One bad hop was all it took to lift Staples to victory in the FCIAC baseball quarterfinals and erase memories of last season's early exit. A two-out error in the third by New Canaan first baseman Will Karl allowed Ben Lipper to reach base. That was followed by three straight hits, including a two-run double into the right-center gap by Colin McCarthy.
Rob Gau did the rest on the mound. The Wreckers' ace did not have his most dominant stuff, but got the outs when he needed them. Gau kept his fastball low in the zone all day, leading to 10 groundouts and two key double plays. The big lefty clinched the 3-0 victory for Staples by picking off Matt Samarco to end the game.
"I think we set [last year] aside at the beginning of the season and today we came out trying to avenge the loss from earlier this season," Gau said. "I'm used to my guys making plays on the ground. They all did great today to pick me up."
If Karl had made the play at first, the game likely would have gone scoreless into the eighth. New Canaan starter Alex Farina had an even more dominant afternoon, despite the loss. The big righty struck out 10, including five strikeouts looking, in a complete-game effort. Farina issued his only walk of the day in the sixth inning.
Staples was held to only five hits, but all they needed were the big three knocks in the third inning. Gau also held New Canaan to five hits, but also walked four. The walks did not hurt Gaueach was followed either by an inning-ending strikeout or a double play.
Brendan Bernstein drove in the game's first run on a hot shot up the middle, scoring Lipper. Mike Scott and Bernstein scored on McCarthy's gap shot.
"It all happened with two outs. Our two-out and two-strike swings have been really good all year," McCarthy said. "[Farina] had a great game and was locating his fastball really well, but it worked out well for us."
Staples moves on to the FCIAC semifinals to take on top-ranked St. Joseph under the lights at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. The Wreckers handed St. Joe's one of its two losses in the regular season on May 13. First pitch for the semifinal game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC sports coverage.
Like The Daily Westport on Facebook .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.