For the second time in 24 hours, the Wilton High baseball team rallied for a victory.
And for the second straight time, it was John Walsh who sparked the Warrior offense.
Walsh, a junior first baseman, drove in four runs as host Wilton came from behind to beat Weston, 5-4, on Thursday. Walsh had an RBI single and a three-run triple as the Warriors improved to 2-0.
“I feel comfortable in the batter’s box,” said Walsh, who was 4-for-4 with two RBIs in Wilton’s 9-7 road win over Joel Barlow on Wednesday. “When I feel that way, I see more pitches that I like and can hit.”
With an attack that was more strategic than robust (five hits), Wilton had to make high-percentage use of available opportunities against Weston. It did so in the fifth and sixth innings by cashing in on both hits and walks.
Trailing 2-0 and facing Weston’s Andrew Weinbrum (who had not yielded a hit over the previous three innings), Wilton began the top of the fifth with a productive plate appearance from Sam Strazza. In his second varsity at-bat, the sophomore lefty drilled a 3-2 pitch over the right fielder’s head for a triple.
Strazza scored on a wild pitch, and John McMahon drew a walk. Cole Judelson’s infield groundout moved McMahon over to second, and Walsh singled to center to drive in McMahon with the tying run.
In the sixth, Strazza, McMahon, and Judelson all reached base on two-out walks, leaving Walsh to deliver the game’s pivotal hit. Walsh crushed a drive to the outfield fence in left center for his three-run triple and a 5-2 Wilton lead.
Weston came back with a rally of its own in the bottom of the seventh. Myles Lehrman led off by hitting Drew Phillips’ first pitch to left for a single, and McMahon (who had shut down Barlow in the final inning on Wednesday) came on in relief.
Things did not go as smoothly for him this time around. A single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly brought in one run, and McMahon hit the next batter to reload the bases. A force play at second got the second out but a run scored on the play, leaving Weston runners at the corners.
Clinging to a one-run lead, McMahon ran the count full and then delivered a called third strike to end the game.
“Even with all the runners on base, I felt pretty confident,” said McMahon. “I focused on throwing strikes and getting people out, and when I do that I don’t think about the people on base.”
McMahon’s relief effort followed an impressive start by Phillips. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking one batter and striking out three.
“My curveball was working for me today,” Phillips said. “I was able to locate it and use it at different speeds. And it helped me set up my fastball.”
Wilton head coach Tim Eagen was both pleased and relieved with the win.
“We are having trouble making basic plays and we can’t do that at this level and expect to win,” he said. “But one thing I do know is that these kids are battlers. I have a whole team of them and what we need to do is just get better every day.”
Notes: Wilton has one more non-conference game Saturday against Daniel Hand at Wilton.
The FCIAC regular season kicks off Monday with the Warriors traveling to New Canaan for a 4:15 start at Mead Park