Wilton tops Norwalk in seven-homer slugfest

A surging air current can capture a baseball and escort a routine, maybe slightly deep, fly ball over the  fence and out of the park.

On Wednesday afternoon in Norwalk, the air current turned into a jet stream.

In a contest that featured seven home runs, the Wilton High baseball team outlasted Norwalk, 11-9, to win its fourth straight game and stay unbeaten (4-0) this season.

Seven home runs good for 14 runs soared through that left-field wind tunnel in an offensive bonanza that saw Norwalk bang out 15 hits and Wilton 16. The irony? Despite the hitting pyrotechnics, defense made the difference: Five Norwalk errors gifted Wilton five unearned runs and the ball game. 

Warrior lead-off batter Drew Phillips gave an indication of things to come when he homered in the game’s initial at-bat. As Wilton's starting pitcher, Phillips got a taste of how Norwalk would respond when the Bears tied the score in the bottom of the first and then took the lead on Kyle Gordon’s two-run blast in the second. 

The Warriors crept a run closer in the top of the third on Luca Wentzel’s double and Cole Judelson’s RBI single. Norwalk’s response was swift and emphatic as Jake Dumas ripped a two-run homer to left, putting the Bears ahead 5-2.

Wilton made it 5-3 in the top of the fourth when Chris Tienken reached third on a two-base infield throwing error and came home on Phillips’ single. Phillips was then ruled out at the plate on a controversial call that foreshadowed some late game umpire decision-making. 

For the third straight inning, Norwalk got a twofer, as Gavin Kee smashed the first of his two, two-run homers in the bottom of the fourth, putting the hosts in front, 7-3. 

But by time the Bears returned to bat, they were trailing 9-7.

Tienken's first varsity homer, a three-run shot, cut Norwalk's lead to 7-6 in the top of the fifth. Phillips followed with a two-run homer that put Wilton ahead, and a walk to Wentzel and two infield errors made it a six-run rally and a 9-7 lead. 

Chris Drummond, the Warriors’ third pitcher of the day, kept Norwalk off the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. He got help on an inning-ending double play when Phillips, now playing second base, snagged Gordon’s line shot and flipped to second, catching the runner off base. 

Wilton wasted a scoring opportunity in the sixth when a runner at third left the base too early, transforming a sacrifice fly and a run into a double play.

Now it was the Bears’ turn to play catch-up and they looked to Gee for help. He didn’t disappoint, launching his second two-run homer to left center for a 9-9 tie. John McMahon came on in relief for Wilton and retired the next two batters, setting the stage for a tumultuous final inning. 

Hard-throwing Mike Boyian took the mound for Norwalk in the top of the seventh and buzzed through the first batter he faced on three strikes. But Judelson worked a walk and John Walsh made Boyian throw 13 pitches before striking out. That at-bat took its toll on Boyian, who walked McMahon and then heaved a wild pitch, moving runners into scoring position. 

Sam Strazza came to the plate and grounded a slow but still routine ball to second base. Even after a bobble by the Norwalk infielder, there was time to make a play. But Strazza raced down the line, dove for the bag, and was declared safe by the umpire, allowing Judelson to score the go-ahead run. Norwalk head coach Pete Tucci loudly protested the questionable call to no avail, and Lucas Uriarte then lined a single through the right side, knocking in McMahon to give Wilton an 11-9 lead.

A two-run margin in this game was certainly no cushion, and when James Nuzzo led off the bottom of the seventh with a hard single to right Norwalk looked ready for another rally.

Following a fly out, Jack Arnold’s single to left put the tying runs on base. A force play at second produced the second out and left runners at the corners. McMahon then retired Brendan Edvarsen on a solid line drive to Will Holmquist in right field for the game-ending out.

“What a game,” said Wilton head coach Tim Eagan. “We did make a lot of mental errors on the base paths and at the plate but these guys are learning and they’re getting better every day.” 

Notes: Phillips finished with three hits (two homers) and four RBIs, and Tienken had three hits and three RBIs. Uriarte also collected three hits, including his RBI single in the seventh inning.