Another Foran-Law classic
Every Foran High player, coach and fan knew what was at stake when Joe Zanghi came on in relief and toed the rubber after the Lions’ 5-0 lead over Jonathan Law had shrunk to 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning at Harbor Yard on Saturday night.
The Lawmen had runners on second and third with two outs to work with, and Foran was coming off three-straight games decided by one run, including a pair of last at-bat losses to Xavier-Middletown and Cheshire High.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, even with five runs and Anthony (Alicki) pitching great,” Foran coach Garrett Walker said after Zanghi pitched out of trouble to secure the Lions’ 5-4 victory in the first game of a twinbill to support the Wounded Warrior Project.
“Baseball players live for that kind of moment,” said Zanghi, who stranded two runners in the sixth inning in relief of Alicki and then left two more Lawmen on base in the seventh. “It was fun and why you play the game.”
Foran is 7-6 on the season and Law is 6-9, including a 5-0 victory over Foran on April 9.
Law’s Dillon Rocha, Jake Rouse and Dave DeRubeis worked the count and drew walks after Alicki opened the sixth with his third strikeout of the game.
Richie Dow singled to right to drive in a run for Law’s second hit of the game off the hard-throwing Alicki.
Matt Taylor ripped a two-run single inside the first-base bag to make it 5-3 before Drew DeRubeis slugged a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center to score Dow and move pinch runner Dave Pingarron to third.
Zanghi and Alicki switched positions here, with Alicki donning catcher’s gear.
With runners on the corners, Rob Griswold looked to bunt the tying run across, but Alicki made a diving catch of his foul pop and Gabe Ciccaglione handled Nolan Rourke’s bouncer to second to retire the side.
Rouse walked and Kevin Johnson singled to right with two out in the home seventh, before Zanghi struck out his second batter of the inning to notch the save.
“We have great respect for Law and its program. We played well today and they played well today. This was a classic Foran-Law game,” Walker said.
“I wouldn’t say we gave them chances, but they took advantage of any chance they did have. This is what Milford baseball is.”
Jonathan Law coach Greg Simler was as confident his Lawmen would come back, as Walker was his club could hold on.
“We are a second half of the game type of team and hang our hat on that and always know we have that in our back pocket when we are behind,” Simler said.
“I told the players we had a big inning coming and we finally got one. That shows the character of these players.”
Foran scored runs in the first and fourth innings and added three more in the fifth.
Christian Malave worked a one-out walk off Law starter Kevin Johnson with one out in the first, and after Alicki also drew a free pass, Casey McCone lined a two-out RBI single to right-center.
Dillon Brown walked to load the bases before Johnson, author of the shutout win in the first meeting, notched the first of his five strikeouts in five innings of pitching.
Foran threatened in the second after a two-out single by Chris Yee, but he was out at home trying to score on Malave’s misplayed hit to the left side of the infield, with Drew DeRubeis blocking the plate and making the tag.
Alicki singled and Zanghi was hit by a pitch to open the Foran third, but Rouse turned McCone’s grounder over the bag at third into a 5-5-3 double play and Drew DeRubeis threw him out trying to advance on a short wild pitch.
Rourke and Rocha walked around a strikeout in the home third before Alicki handled a comebacker to end the threat.
Foran made it 2-0 in the fourth when Joe Radecki singled, Tyler Chacho hit a ground-rule double to left and R.J. Jackson singled off Dow’s glove at first and into right field. Rouse threw out Chacho at home on Yee’s grounder and Rocha tracked down Malave’s stinger to center.
Dow singled for Law in the fourth, before Malave started a 6-4-3 double play turned by Yee on Taylor’s grounder.
Foran seemingly broke the game open in the fifth. Alicki singled for his third hit and Zanghi doubled into the corner in left field. McCone added two more RBIs with a single to left for a 4-0 lead and Chacho scored a run with a sacrifice fly.
Drew DeRubeis walked to open the Law fifth, but McCone started a 5-5-3 double play and the Lawmen had to wait until the sixth to begin their rally in earnest.