Baseball: Rough start dooms Wilton in loss to Westhill

Chris Tienken connects for a hit during the Wilton High baseball team's game last week at home. — J.B. Cozens photo
Chris Tienken connects for a hit during the Wilton High baseball team's game last week at home. — J.B. Cozens photo

“I think what will be important to this team is the way we bounce back from a loss,” said Wilton High baseball senior catcher Jack DiNanno, after last Thursday’s opening-day, 3-0 victory over Weston.

DiNanno and his teammates will get an early season opportunity to test his assessment, after the Warriors ran into a talented Westhill High nine on Monday, losing 7-2 to the Vikings at their home field in Stamford.

Westhill (2-1,1-0 FCIAC) appeared headed for a rout as it sent 12 men to the plate and chalked up seven runs on five hits in the first inning.

Offensively, Wilton could never recover though it did score two runs in the sixth. What the Warriors and particularly their hurler Colin Tietjen (0-1) did was battle. The Vikings, after their first inning barrage, never scored another run as both Tietjen and reliever Brendan Skewis pitched a shutout the rest of the way.

Furthermore, only three of the seven Westhill runs were earned. In that hapless first inning, three errors hurt Wilton, and Tietjen didn’t help himself by issuing a walk and hitting two batters.

Westhill shortstop TJ Wainwright was a force at the plate as he belted two hits — an RBI double and a two-run single. Alex Cordone had the other big hit, whacking a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single to left.

Limited to just three hits by Viking starter John MacDonald (2-0), the Warriors got both their runs in the sixth. Kyle Phillips led off with a walk but was forced at second when an infield pop-up got dropped. Phillips had to stay close to first base and thus was easy pickings as the infielder had plenty of time to pick up the ball and throw to second.

An error on Dillon Lifrieri’s ground ball followed by DiNanno’s second hit, a long single to left center, scored Drew Phillips and put runners at the corners. Cole Judelson’s sac fly to right scored Lifrieri, giving a glimmer of hope for an upset.

When Ryan Gabriele led off the seventh with a base hit, the glimmer began to shimmer. But MacDonald retired the next three batters easily to finish the game, yielding two runs (one earned) on three hits, walking three, striking out six, walking three batters and tossing a wild pitch.

“I told the team that they need to get off the bus ready to play,” head coach Tim Eagen said. “You can’t play the way we did in the first inning. You pay a price if you make mistakes against a team as good as they (Westhill) are.”

He continued, “But right now I’m still trying to find out what I’ve got on this team. One thing I know for sure, and I told them so, they’re fighters. They play hard from beginning to end.”

Tietjen was a case in point. In the fourth inning, with one out, a three-base outfield error looked to jump-start a second wave of Viking offense. A good play by Kyle Phillips at third precipitated the second out with the runner holding at third. Self-inflicted damage — a hit batsman and a walk — left the bases loaded.

But on a 3-2 pitch, Tietjen struck out lead-off batter George Psicopaidos to end his four-inning stint successfully, giving up seven runs (three earned) on seven hits, walking three, striking out two and hitting three batters.

Skewis finished the final two innings, giving up no hits while striking out two.