Legionnaires playing the game right

There is nothing in the way the Fairfield Post 74 American Legion Senior baseball team plays the game to suggest that the locals are going anywhere but forward in Zone IV this summer.

Coach John Servilla’s club took on zone-leading Greenwich and gave Post 29 all it could handle before falling 7-5 at Kiwanis Field on Saturday morning.

“We hit a rough patch early, which is to be expected with final exams and graduation [exercises],” said Servilla, now in his third year with the program after working with the Junior team the past two summers.

“The last two or three games have seen us come around.”

Fairfield (3-7) will host Trumbull (6-3) for a pair of games at Tunxis Hill on Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m., and will visit Post 141 at Trumbull High on Monday at 5:45.

Greenwich took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second off Fairfield starter Tim Moran.

The left-hander allowed a pair of walks before Ryan Hardin delivered the run with a single.

Moran had a two-out single off Post 29 ace Dave Berdoff in the home second to no avail, but in the third Post 74 unleashed its bunting game.

Sam Kivell opened the four-run rally with a one-out single to right.

With two runners aboard Dario Pugliano slapped a solid single to center to load the bases.

Steve Brunetti worked Berdoff for a run-scoring walk to tie the game.

That brought Peter Detrik to the plate, who promptly surprised everyone with a squeeze bunt up the first-base line to give Fairfield the lead.

“Bunting is a big part of baseball and we spent an hour and a half at our last practice going through drills,” said Servilla, a Fairfield Ludlowe graduate who just finished his junior season at Sacred Heart University. “The last half hour we went over pickoffs.”

That pickoff drill would prove valuable later, but for now Fairfield led 2-1 and had runners on second and third.

Steven Zadravec doubled the run total with a two-run single to left. He stole second base, before Berdoff retired Moran on a grounder to short.

Greenwich fired back in the top of the fourth to score four times

Three straight hits made it 4-2. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk loaded the bases, Dylan Callahan doubled into the corner in left to tie things.

Zadravec made the defensive play of the game here, with a full-out dive to spear Berdoff’s drive down the left-field line. Instead of a two-run triple and a man on third, Zadravec scrambled to his feet and returned the ball to the infield. Greenwich had to settle for a sacrifice fly and a 5-4 lead.

Moran got the last out on a pop up to Pugliano at short.

Matt Lilly walked and Ryan Mulligan bunted him up a base in the home fourth, but he was stranded.

Greenwich made it 6-4 with two outs on a walk and an error in the fifth.

Fairfield drew that run back in the bottom of the frame, and this is where pickoff moves came into play.

Pugliano launched a double inside the third-base line and stole third.

Berdoff looked to pick him off, but Pugliano showed off the skill that earned him a berth on the Class L All-State team, as the Fairfield Warde graduate broke for home on the throw and scored when the relay to the plate hit him in the back.

Greenwich tacked on an unearned run in the sixth, with the right-handed Lance Kreizer on in relief.

Fairfield tried to rally one more time.

Kivell hustled out an infield single to short to open the seventh, but Berdoff retired the next two batters.

Brunetti kept the dream alive with a single, before Berdoff enticed a comebacker to the mound.

“Pitching and defense will win you games,” Servilla said. “Swinging with wooden bats, for some of the players for the first time, can cripple you.

“If you are going to win, you absolutely have to pitch well and play defense.”

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