Baseball: Wilton looks to extend win streak

Inclement weather was the name of the game as the Wilton High varsity baseball squad marched to a pair of victories during a week that supposedly would see the team play four games.

The Warriors won both contests, improving their record to 5-2 overall (3-2 FCIAC) and upping a modest winning streak to four.

They will try to extend the streak to five on Friday when they travel to Trinity Catholic in Stamford. Today's scheduled game at St. Joseph has been postponed to May 4.

There was little if any sunshine for the game against Fairfield Warde on Monday, but the day seemed mild in comparison to the team's previous game in Enfield. Wilton played well behind the effective pitching of Ryan Gabriele (2-0), stymying the Mustangs, 5-1, at Wilton’s Varsity Field.

After Will Mitola’s two-out RBI base hit scored Ryan Donnelly, who led the game off with a walk, Gabriele shut out Warde (2-8, 2-4 FCIAC) through the sixth inning. In total he allowed just the one run on three hits, walked four and struck out four.

Bill Black pitched the seventh, yielding no runs and a pair of hits.

“I thought Ryan pitched well,” head coach Tim Eagen said. “He had to battle through some innings and he did. He had a lot of 3-2 counts and that drove his pitch count (94) higher than what we would have liked. But that’s something that we can work on and improve — getting our pitchers to be more efficient with their pitches.”

The Warriors rebounded promptly to tie the game in the bottom of the first when Matt D’Elisa drove in Henry Strmecki with a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop. Wilton went ahead for good in the second when Kyle Phillips led off with a double, raced to third on Jack DiNanno’s base hit and came home when Cole Judelson bounced into a force play at second base.

In the third, D’Elisa and Phillips belted run-producing base hits, but a blown double play opportunity that would have taken the Mustangs out of the inning appeared to inflict the most damage. In the fourth, a double steal by Drew Connolly and Strmecki, with Connolly scoring on an errant catcher's throw, brought the Warriors their final run.

“Their pitcher threw a pretty good game,” said Eagen of Warde's Zach McKay (1-2), who gave up five runs, of which four were unearned. He allowed seven hits, walked two, struck out two and slung a wild pitch. Jacob Vonderlinden relieved him throwing a scoreless inning and allowing a hit.

“Overall, I think our team is getting better,” said Eagen. “I like what I’m seeing now but we need to make sure we focus and play good baseball for seven innings. We’ve got to get better every day. We need to know, really know that when it comes down to each game, you take it from your opponents. They don’t take it from you.”
‘Adverse’ didn’t do the weather conditions justice last Wednesday (April 19) at Enfield. They were atrocious. Five miles south of the Massachusetts border, the 40-degree, wind-whipped rain penetrated everything and everybody with an unsparing rawness.

Though the playing field held up remarkably well, lack of dugouts left the baseball players from both Enfield and Wilton fair game for the unkind elements. Thankfully the umpires in their wisdom and mercy called the game after five innings, thus making official the Warriors' 13-1 victory.

Ben Rusin (1-1) went the distance for Wilton, giving up an unearned run on four hits, walking three and striking out six. He got strong support from his team both at the plate and in the field as the Warriors battered four Eagles pitchers for 12 hits and committed just one error.

An eight-run fourth inning broke the game open and after that it was just a question if the game would be suspended before completion of the requisite five innings.

Strmecki got the offense rolling. On the second pitch of the game he bludgeoned a triple to centerfield. Collin Kahal brought him in with a sac fly to left and the Warriors jumped ahead by a run.

In the second, Jack Dooley singled to left, Phillips moved him to second with a sacrifice and DiNanno singled him to third. Judelson’s fielder's choice ground ball got the run home.

Strmecki led off the third with an infield hit and eventually scored on a wild pitch after reaching third on Kahal’s perfectly-executed hit-and-run single.

The Eagles (1-2) got that run back when Jake Timme walked, stole second, reached third on an infield error and scored on a wild pitch. But the fourth inning was all Wilton as the Warriors sent 12 men to the plate. Three walks, two hit batsmen and two errors greatly enhanced the three Wilton hits (RBI double by Connolly, another hit-and-run single by Kahal, DiNanno’s second RBI base hit) and Dooley’s sacrifice fly.

The Warriors tacked on their final runs after two were out in the fifth. Kahal’s double, a triple by Dillon Lifrieri and D’Elisa’s single did the trick.

“I thought Ben Rusin did a great job, especially under the conditions,” coach Eagen said. “We hit the ball well and played good defense.”

Kahal led the offense, going 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and a pair of runs scored. Strmecki, Lifrieri and DiNanno also collected two hits each, with Strmecki scoring three times and DiNanno knocking in two runs.