The Shelton High baseball team ran out of chances on Monday night in a tough 4-3 loss to Foran High.
The Gaels squandered early opportunities, but with the game hanging in the balance they had what appeared to be the perfect scenario.
Matt Silverstein drew a walk and Frank DeMarco reached on an error with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Shelton head coach Scott Gura sent in pinch runners Dale Lesko and Nick Walsh, representing the tying and winning runs on base.
Will Ciccone stepped to the plate with two outs.
Ciccone had battled for six innings on the hill and this was his chance to help decide the outcome.
The count went full and Ciccone fouled off three straight pitches before drawing a walk to load the bases.
That sent up leadoff hitter Chris Kanios, who already had three hits and one RBI.
The battle ensued and the count went full again.
With the bases loaded, two outs and a 3-2 count on the batter, Foran’s T.J. Stuart got a pitch to ride the rails for a called strike three to end the game.
“I don’t want to have anyone else in that at bat except Chris Kanios,” Gura said. “He battled it to a full count. Now it’s 50-50 (chance) and it just didn’t go our way.
“It’s been tough. We are too inconsistent offensively and we strike out way too much. But we didn’t fall asleep down 4-0. We battled back. Anytime you are in a situation to win the game in your last at bat that’s what you are looking for — a chance to win and we got that.”
Foran jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when Bryan Firmender launched a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer to left field.
Ciccone came back to get the final out in the first inning and then scattered six hits through six innings to keep Shelton in the game.
The Lions tacked on two more runs in the third, aided by two walks and a hit batter. Brian Wydra then cracked a two-run single to give Foran a 4-0 advantage.
Shelton kicked away countless opportunities, leaving Kanios at third base in the first and third inning.
The Foran defense chipped in to help starting pitcher Drew Corsi strand DeMarco and Ryan Murphy at second and third in the third inning (along with DeMarco and Silverstein at second and third in the fourth inning).
“Will is only a sophomore and did a good job for us,” Gura said. “He battled and gave us a chance in only his second time on the hill. He showed us what he can bring to the varsity over the next couple of years.”
Shelton got on the board in the fifth to make it a 4-1 deficit.
Kanios singled, and with one out David Wells popped a ball to right field.
The flare fell in for a hit but Kanios had to hold and was forced out.
Matt Hunyadi belted a double in the gap to score Wells. Craig McNamara flew out to right field, but the Gaels were showing signs of breaking out and putting runs on the board.
In the bottom of the sixth, Shelton opened the door to victory a little wider.
Silverstein singled and DeMarco sent one back to the box.
In his exuberance to make the play, Foran pitcher Nick Hartley threw the double play ball into centerfield
Ciccone singled to load the bases and Kanios singled in a run.
Wells worked out a bases loaded walk to chase in another run and cut the gap at 4-3.
Ciccone came on to pitch the top of the seventh and gave up a single to the first batter. Kanios came on in relief and proceeded to strikeout the side.
Then came the final chance to pull out the win, but Foran was able to hold on.
Shelton fell to 10-9 on the year and have now lost four games by one run.
The Gaels wrap up the regular season on Tuesday hosting Lyman Hall at 4 p.m.