Callahan, Greenwich outduel Stamford
The first time he laid eyes on his team's schedule, Stamford baseball coach Fred Kelley had a feeling what his hitters were in for.
Not only would the Black Knights be dealing with the National Federation of State High Schools’ switch to wood-simulated BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) certified bats, but being that it was the season-opener, they would also be going up against Greenwich ace Dylan Callahan, one of the premier pitcher in the FCIAC.
"I looked at the schedule and immediately thought 'Oh my God' we've got (Callahan) on opening day," Kelley said. "He's as good as it gets in this league, and he showed that today."
Callahan, a senior, is primed for a sublime season and delivered in a big way on Wednesday, firing a four-hit shutout while also scoring a run to lead Greenwich past Stamford 2-0 in a well-played season-opener.
The right-hander struck out four batters and didn't walk any in an 81-pitch gem that saw him allow the tying runs to reach base in the top of the seventh before bearing down to get the final two outs of the game.
"I was really psyched about getting the ball on opening day, that's always a big deal and you want to set the tone for the season," Callahan said. "My defense really supported me, and to get the shutout against a quality team means a lot. We're excited to get that first win out of the way."
It wasn't easy -- it never is in the FCIAC -- and the hard-throwing Callahan had to outduel fellow senior righty Luis Lopez, who was nearly equal to the task.
After allowing three hits in the first inning -- including an RBI double to left by cleanup batter Casey Gaynor that scored Taylor Olmstead -- Lopez settled down and didn't yield another run until the sixth when Callahan led off with a bunt single and came home on a sacrifice fly by David Berdoff.
"Luis did a stellar job," Kelley said. "He was able to locate his fastball and rode it from the letters up, while having confidence in his curveball. Defense was kind of our Achilles heel last season, but we played great in the field today. We played with a lot of intensity. I don't like to lose, but if we had to it might as well be to a program like Greenwich. I have a lot of respect for Mike (Mora) and his team."
Second baseman Chandler Foster made several sparkling plays at second base for the Black Knights, while Chris DiPietro threw out two would-be base stealers.
Greenwich catcher Ricky Okazaki also had a superb game behind the plate, gunning down two Stamford base-runners to help preserve the shutout.
Down to their last at-bats, the Black Knights threatened in the seventh with three consecutive hard hit balls in the infield to start the inning. But the Cardinals caught a break when a grounder by Lopez caromed off third baseman Max Barefoot and over to shortstop Vincent Ferraro, who threw to Matt Pruner for the out on a close play at second.
Nick Palumbo then reached on an infield single to give the Black Knights runners at the corners with one out.
With Callahan reaching his pitch limit for the afternoon, Mora toyed with the idea of using his bullpen, but ultimately it was Callahan's game to complete. And that he did, inducing a fly out to center and then a game-ending pop out to Ferraro in shallow center.
"We had our leader on the mound and he showed both teams what he's all about today," Mora said. "This was a very good high school baseball game, and a great start to the season for us. Sure a few more hits would have been nice (Greenwich had five) but all things considered, we couldn't have scripted it any better."