DARIEN — Monday was essentially a play-in game for the St. Joseph baseball team, and the Cadets played like it.
Needing a win to clinch an FCIAC tournament berth, St. Joseph used a five-run seventh inning to down Darien 8-4 on the road.
“We needed to win to get in,” said Cadets coach Jim Chaves, whose team now sits at fourth in the conference with Staples on the docket for Tuesday’s regular-season finale. “Going into tomorrow we control our own destiny having a home game. The kids are juiced up for the playoff-type atmosphere and that’s what they got here today.”
St. Joseph leadoff hitter Stephen Paolini started the game with a single and a stolen base and came around to score on a Jimmy Evans single to grab a quick 1-0 lead for the Cadets (13-6, 10-5 FCIAC) .
Darien (13-6, 10-5) would tie it in the second when Max Gasvoda doubled off the wall in left and Nick Conte singled him in.
The teams played scoreless ball for the next three innings as the pitchers settled in.
St. Joseph starter Hadyn Gourley went six innings, allowing three runs and Darien’s Justin Jordan (2 1/3innings, one run, three strikeouts) and Henry Williams (2 2/3 innings, no runs, five strikeouts) showed their top-of-the-rotation stuff.
It could have been tempting to keep either pitcher in for Darien, especially with the way Williams was dealing, but the Blue Wave used the game as a tune-up for the duo having already clinched a spot in the playoffs.
“We did some unconventional things today and that’s by design,” Darien coach Mike Scott said. “We wanted to win this game, but at the same time we need to have guys at the end of the week. We can’t get caught up in the moment in a tight ballgame and lose one of those guys for Friday.”
Finn Batson walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth and eventually scored on Henry Williams’ fielder’s choice to stake Darien to a 2-1 lead.
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ST. JOSEPH 8, DARIEN 4
ST. JOSEPH 1 0 0 0 0 2 5—8 8 2
DARIEN 0 1 0 0 1 1 1—4 8 3
Records: St. Joseph 13-6, 10-5 FCIAC; Darien 13-6, 10-5. Batteries: SJ—Hadyn Gourley (W), Trent Price (7, S) and Aaron Kirby; D—Justin Jordan, Henry Williams (3), Jackson Vaught (6, L) and Arthur Xanthos. Highlights: SJ—Hadyn Gourley went six innings on the mound, allowing three runs and striking out four. Charlie Pagliarini hit a two-run home run. D—Henry Williams went 2.1 innings in relief, striking out five.