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Ellinwood's HR gives Staples 8-inning win over New Canaan

Updated 4:25 pm, Thursday, May 8, 2014

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  • Staples high school Topher Brown slides into second safely as New Canaan high school second baseman Brandon Abate jumps to catch to throw during a baseball game played at Mead Park, New Canaan, CT on Monday, May, 5th, 2014. Photo: Mark Conrad / Connecticut Post Freelance
    Staples high school Topher Brown slides into second safely as New Canaan high school second baseman Brandon Abate jumps to catch to throw during a baseball game played at Mead Park, New Canaan, CT on Monday, May, 5th, 2014. Photo: Mark Conrad

 

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If winning nail-biting games is the sign of a team destined for playoff success, teams will not want to lock up with Staples once the postseason rolls around.

Three times Staples has gone to extra innings this season and all three it left with wins, including a 6-5 triumph over New Canaan in eight innings at Mead Park on Monday.

The win keeps Staples (10-3, 9-2 FCIAC) alone in second place, while New Canaan (9-4, 7-4) falls back into the scrum of teams between third and ninth places.

Senior shortstop Sam Ellinwood drove the first pitch he saw in the top of the eighth deep to left field, just keeping it fair for a solo home run, giving his team its third win in extras.

Ellinwood said he wanted to get on base leading off the inning, but the first offering was a pitch up that he liked so he took a crack at it.

"I am determined in that at bat to hit the ball hard somewhere," Ellinwood said. "He left the pitch up and I put a good swing on it, but all I was thinking about was to try and put the ball in play and start something for us."

Ellinwood had a double to go along with his home run, Nathan Panzer had two RBI and Topher Brown went 3-for-4 with a run scored for the Wreckers.

New Canaan got the first two men on in the bottom of the eighth, but Justin Gallanty shut the door, getting three straight outs to pick up the win.

The Rams seemed to be in perfect position to rally with two men on but a sacrifice bunt by Dan Rajkowski hit him as he left the batter's box, making him out and sending the runners back to first and second.

New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman has seen the Rams lose three close games in the last four outings and said his team needs to win these types of games.

"It sucks, that's all," Hoffman said. "Lose on a home run that, I don't know if it hit the tree to stay fair, who knows? It was a great game both ways. It's the third one in a row and I could use a few choice words but hopefully it teaches them to close the door the next time."

Alex LaPolice had two hits and scored two runs, Brandon Abate drove in two runs and scored one and Zack Smith had a RBI double for the Rams.

New Canaan got a run in the first to take an early lead but then each team answered the other with runs in the fourth and fifth.

Staples put up two in the fourth to go up 2-1 but New Canaan quickly tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the inning.

In the fifth, Staples again took the lead 4-2 but New Canaan re-took it 5-4 with three of its own in the bottom of the fifth.

Brian Porter led off the top of the seventh with a single, eventually scoring the tying run on a groundout by Nick Vega, sending the game to extra innings.

With a runner on and no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Staples turned to Gallanty, who pitched Friday but was ready to go according to coach Jack McFarland.

"He is going to move the game along and throw strikes," McFarland said. "If we are going to lose, they are going to have to hit the ball. He's great on bunts and that's why I brought him in. He's a senior and a winner and he pitched Friday, so, he's not 100 percent."

An error allowed another Rams runner on in the seventh, but with two on Gallanty got a pop up to himself and a fly ball to right to end the threat.