Baseball: Warriors aim to rebound in states

It’s the scenario any high school athlete dreams of: A win-and-you’re-in game on Senior Night in front of a large home crowd.

Such was the stage for the members of the Wilton High baseball team last Thursday.

Sitting in the eighth and final spot for the FCIAC playoffs with a 10-7 conference record, Wilton needed a win against New Canaan in the regular-season finale to finish ahead of Staples and qualify for the conference post-season.

Staples entered the day one game behind Wilton with a 9-8 record, but the Wreckers owned the tiebreaker for having beaten Wilton earlier in the season and were almost guaranteed a win in their finale against struggling Bassick.

Wilton’s opponent, New Canaan, however, was at the opposite end of the conference spectrum. The Rams came into last Thursday’s contest with a 13-4 FCIAC mark and had already secured a playoff berth.

And with the stage set for Wilton, New Canaan pulled the curtains down early.

The Rams took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and then added single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings on the way to a 6-0 win over the host Warriors.

The loss, coupled with Staples’ resounding 19-0 triumph over Bassick, vaulted the Wreckers past Wilton and into the final FCIAC playoff spot.

“I’m disappointed because we played extremely hard in each game, and our record just doesn't show our effort,” said senior co-captain Ryan Reuther. “I hope this tough ending will help spark us to stay focused and win states.”

“Obviously, it’s frustrating not making FCIACs. For the seniors, we would have loved to win on Senior Night, but we cannot dwell over that loss,” said Jordon Prince. “Life moves on, and we need to clear our heads and lead this team to a state championship.”

Wilton’s regular season was littered with close games that could have gone either way, as 11 of its contests were decided by one or two runs.

“The FCIAC is such a talented league from top to bottom that on any given day, anybody can beat each other,” said senior co-captain Andrew Jacobson. “We had such a good mix of seniors and underclassmen, but we have to put this behind us and look forward to states, where our position in the standings can really enable us to make a run at a title.”

The injury bug has definitely caught up to the Warriors this season, as multiple key players have been sidelined. Case in point: Since Reuther’s season-opening no-hitter against Weston, followed by a complete game win at Ridgefield, he has not stepped foot on the mound due to shoulder issues.

While the injuries may have played a part in taking away an FCIAC spot, senior co-captain Will Bruschi recognizes the value of rest.

“It’s definitely frustrating not making FCIACs, especially because we lost it in the last game,” said Bruschi. “However, the rest period is much needed for states because we have so many injuries and sore arms.”

Wilton finished the season with a 12-8 overall record, which should bode well for them once the Class L state bracket is released. And for a talented team with a group of seniors eager to rebound and make a post-season run, no opponent should be looking forward to drawing the Warriors in round one.