Conard rallied late in the game to beat rival Hall in the annual ‘Strike Out Cancer’ baseball game between the two West Hartford schools.
By David Heuschkel. Photos by Ronni Newton
In terms of drama, the annual “Strike Out Cancer” baseball game between host Conard and visiting Hall was a home run. An unlikely hero even emerged in the late innings.
Conard senior Jay Falvey made his mother Sarah, a cancer survivor, proud when he delivered the biggest hit of the afternoon in the bottom of the sixth.
With his team trailing by a run, Falvey drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a double and the Chieftains, wearing neon pink jerseys, went on to beat the Warriors 11-9 on Wednesday, May 1, at Conard High School.
Falvey said it was the top moment of his high school hardball career. A backup catcher, he started the game on the bench and replaced senior Dylan Mallinson behind the plate in the top of the sixth when Hall scored two runs to take a 9-7 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Conard responded with four runs off Hall relievers Andrew Skwiot, Ean Tyler and Carl Nicklas.
The rally started when Skwiot walked Sean Gueverra, the No. 9 hitter. He stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it a one-run game.
With one out, Chris Maglio singled and moved to second when Tyler’s pick-off throw to first wound up in foul territory. Tyler then walked Jeff LaRosa, bringing Falvey to the plate and sending Hall manager Nick Marsh to the mound to make another pitching change.
With Nicklas summoned to face Falvey, Conard got aggressive on the bases as Maglio and LaRosa executed a double steal. Both runners scored easily when Falvey, with his mother videotaping his at-bat, drove the next pitch from Nicklas to deep left for a two-run double that gave the Chieftains a 10-9 lead. Falvey moved to third on a groundout, then scampered home on a wild pitch.
“I was just focused on getting the ball in the air to the outfield to get the sac fly,” said Falvey, who was sidelined most of his junior year with a shoulder injury.
“A great way for him to pay respect to the fact that we’re fighting cancer and his mom’s a cancer survivor,” Conard coach Sanjay Rambhia said. “Congratulations to him. He’s a worker. He really cares about the team. All these guys fought.”
LaRosa’s solo home run in the first inning was the first of 11 hits by the Chieftains. The Warriors, who had 12 hits, scored three runs in the second and added three more in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead.
But the Chieftains erased that deficit by scoring five runs in their half of the fourth. With the bases loaded and one out, Jon Perez drove in two runs with an opposite field double and Gueverra followed with an RBI double to make it 6-4.
Ryan Farley hit a shallow fly to center that dropped for a single, scoring Perez to make it a one-run game and sending Gueverra to third. With Maglio at the plate, Farley took off for second and slid in safely as the throw bounced behind second base. Gueverra scored on the errant throw to tie it.
Hall regained the lead in the fifth on a double by Bryan Renker (2-for-3, sac fly) and an RBI single by Dan Hussey (2-for-3, sac fly). Conard tied it in the bottom half when Jack Brennan, who drew a two-out walk, scored on a wild pitch.
Hall grabbed the lead right back, scoring two in the sixth on a RBI single by Will Fox and Renker’s sac fly that made it 9-7, only to watch the Chieftains stage the decisive four-run rally in the bottom of the inning.
“We both kind of went back and forth at each other,” said Marsh, in his second year as Hall coach. “I’d have to go back and look, but I’d be willing to bet that they made one or two less mistakes than we did. No matter what level you’re playing at, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will more than likely end up winning.”
Conard improved to 9-3 with their seventh win in eight games. Hall dropped to 3-9.
“I felt like we showed up a little more intense than we showed up for some of our other games. I like that, but that means we’re not showing up with intensity for some games,” Marsh said. “Something is going to have to change. They’re all big games. You only play 20. You only get 60 at-bats in a season. You might only throw 20 innings all season. There’s no time to take any [games] off.”
Proceeds from sales of a program, baked goods, and other items at the game will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
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