Home field advantage did the Wilton High baseball team no favors Tuesday afternoon.
A high blue sky, a stiff breeze, and retina-scorching sunlight in left and center field wreaked havoc on the Warrior outfielders, who misplayed and misjudged some fly balls while allowing others to land sight unseen.
Of course, the main problem was that Staples hitters were blasting the ball out there, so much so that the Wreckers walked off the field after five innings with a 16-2 run-rule drubbing of Wilton.
It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors (5-1), who were overwhelmed in the three major phases of the game: Offense, defense, and pitching.
Seventeen Staples hits — six for extra bases, including Drew Rogers’ two-run homer — gave Harry Azadian (3-0) more than ample run support. Azadian pitched the requisite five innings, yielding two runs (one earned) on five singles while striking out six batters and walking none.
Meanwhile, Azadian’s counterparts – Wilton pitchers Ethan Leinberger, Chris Drummond, Eric Lebek, Nick Sheehan, and Lucas Uriarte — suffered through a Staples hitting spree that produced at least one run in every inning and included a pair of five-run rallies.
Leinberger (2-1) took the loss, lasting an inning and two-thirds and allowing seven runs (six earned) on five hits (three doubles). He walked three batters and struck out two.
Chris Drummond relieved Leinberger in the top of the second and yielded two run-scoring hits as the Wreckers opened an 8-0 lead.
Wilton got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the second. John Walsh and John McMahon had back-to-back singles, advanced on Chris Tienken’s sacrifice fly, and scored on Parker Ward’s two-out single.
Drummond limited Staples (7-1) to one run in the top of the third, but Azadian kept the Warriors scoreless in the bottom of the inning. One of his pitches hit Walsh in the face, forcing the tall first baseman out of the game.
Any revived Wilton spirit took a header in the fourth when Staples sent 10 men to the plate, collecting five runs on six hits (highlighted by Rogers’ two-run shot), a walk, and a wild pitch. Lebek got a rude welcome in his first varsity appearance, giving up the five runs before Nick Sheehan came on to get the final out.
Uriarte allowed two runs in the Staples fifth, and Azadian then closed out the game, retiring the Warriors in order in the bottom of the inning to end the abbreviated contest.
“We have a young team and we’ve known all along they would be up and down,” said Wilton head coach Tim Eagen. “We had a bad day. It was our home field and the Staples outfielders made the plays we should have been able to make. We have to look ahead to St. Joe’s on Thursday and hope we can bounce back the way I know this team can.”
Notes: Staples senior Chad Knight, a prime candidate for FCIAC Player of the Year honors, went 4-for-5 with a double, scored three runs, and collected three RBIs. Teammate Zach Zobel was 4-for-4 with four RBIs.