STAMFORD -- After giving up four runs in the opening three innings on a chilly Friday afternoon, Stamford High pitcher Tom McIntosh could have packed it in and gotten himself a hot chocolate.
Instead, after the Black Knights evened the score, he set down Brien McMahon in order in the fourth, got out of a two-out jam in the fifth, and nearly escaped the sixth after a leadoff double -- striking out the next two hitters before a lazy grounder to second base turned into an error bringing home the winning run.
"Tommy has the intestinal fortitude to be one of the best pitchers in the league," said Stamford head coach Fred Kelley after the Black Knights fell 6-4 to McMahon in their home opener. "Even when the guys behind him didn't make a play, he never turned around and gave them any looks. He is a real class act."
With temperatures hovering in the mid-40's throughout the game, McMahon, an FCIAC preseason favorite, which opened its season with a 16-5 win over Fairfield Ludlowe earlier last week, picked up where it left off with two runs in the first inning and one run in each of the next two.
"We've really been hitting well in the first couple of innings, but we have to make sure to keep pounding away so we don't let teams back in the game," said McMahon starting pitcher and No. 3 hitter Aleko Petridis, who went 2-for-3 with a first-inning RBI and a run. "But it's better to get these experiences early so we've seen it already later in the season."
After going hitless in the first two innings, Stamford scored three runs in the third thanks to production from the bottom of the lineup. After leadoff singles by Jeff Cooper and Bryan Polonia, who combined to go 4-for-6 with two runs and an RBI out of the eight and nine slots, Stamford got the clutch hit from shortstop Brandon Docimo, whose line drive double off the left field fence brought in two runs. Catcher Mike Beldotti followed with a sacrifice fly to halve the deficit before Stamford equalized the next inning.
"Hey, we faced one of the best pitchers in the league (Petridis) and we battled," Kelley said. "I'm proud of what we did. Would I like to be 0-2 right now? Of course not. But this team works hard on their hitting and minus a couple of mistakes in the field, which we will iron out, we could have won this game."
After stranding a McMahon runner at third base in the fifth, McIntosh nearly pulled off a miracle in the sixth. With McMahon first baseman Joe Cox on second after a leadoff double, McIntosh struck out the next two batters -- the second after falling into a 3-0 hole. Then, after getting ahead 0-2 on Jamie Restivo, McIntosh forced a soft grounder to second base that was thrown away.
"I was thinking to myself, `Yes, I'm going to get out of this, no harm done, now lets get the bats going and take the lead,'" said McIntosh, who allowed only two hits after the third. "Even after that and the one they scored in the seventh, I still believed we'd get a couple of runs and come back, but that's not what happened."