BRISTOL - The St. Paul baseball team sailed through round one of the CIAC Class S Baseball tournament Tuesday afternoon, blanking Housatonic 14-0.
The Falcons did not hesitate to put a run on the board. Julian Thayer started his two-RBI game with a solo home run to left center field.
“Scoring that early in a game gave the team a jolt. It got everyone up in the dugout” Falcons coach Victor Rinaldi said.
Falcons starting pitcher Ethan Rembish put on a show, striking out six, walking two, and only allowing one hit through five innings.
Three of Remblish’s strikeouts came in the fourth inning, striking out the heart of the Mountaineer lineup in order - all while staying under 70 pitches.
Remblish was St. Paul’s ace throughout the season, dominating with a 7-1 record.
“Ethan’s been a bulldog all year for us. We were lucky to keep him under 70 pitches,” Rinaldi said.
St. Paul’s first big rally came in the third inning. Batting through the order, the Falcons scored six runs. The frame was highlighted by a bases-clearing double from Ryan Greene and a dramatic play on bloop single from Shaun Remillard.
Remilard’s hit one-hopped into Housatonic right fielder Nicholas Winburn’s glove. Winburn sailed the ball to the cutoff man, who then fired the ball to third base, attempting to catch Falcons runner Christopher Mills out in the open. The throw was wild and Mills scored from third on the error.
The Falcons had another big rally in the sixth inning, when Ryan Greene hit a towering home run to left center field. By the end of the sixth inning, the score was 14-0.
St. Paul’s fans were elated with the team’s approach to the game.
“It’s great to see the team working together. They are really doing good,” said Ryan Budd, a seminarian who works alongside the school’s chaplain.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Falcons coach made a move he had been waiting a long time to make. He brought in setup man Dylan Gagnon, who trotted out to the rubber in front of family and friends, for what would be his first outing in over two years.
Gagnon, now a junior, injured his throwing arm during his freshman season. He was forced to get season-ending Tommy John surgery and had been recovering since. He was on St. Paul’s state championship team of 2016.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” said Dylan. “My family and team were very supportive throughout the process. I just wanted to keep cool.”
Gagnon had spent the past two years working out and getting back into the shape he had been in prior to his injury. Gagnon struck out two batters in his one inning of relief, allowing just one hit.
“It’s been a long road for Dylan. His velocity was down, but he had good poise,” Rinaldi said.
During the first play of the game, Housatonic’s Connor Toffey popped a ball up, which resulted in a controversial call made by one of the side umpires. The Housatonic fan section was furious with the call, claiming the ball bounced out of the glove of the Falcons’ left fielder. The umpires convened, ultimately resulting in the call standing.
With the shutout victory, St. Paul advances to the second round of the Class S state tournament and will host No. 19-seed St. Bernard (11-10) today at 3:30 p.m.