Staples High baseball coach Jack McFarland has been patiently waiting for his lineup to break out and help cure his team's struggles.
New Canaan pitcher Andrew Casali made sure it didn't happen on Wednesday.
The senior right-hander stymied Staples' bats, hurling a complete-game shutout as New Canaan blew past Staples 7-0 on the road.
"Andrew is a tremendous competitor and athlete on the mound. I couldn't give the ball to anyone better," Rams coach Mitch Hoffman said.
Working mainly off a fastball-slider combination, Casali scattered seven hits and walked just one. He retired the side in order just once -- the first inning -- but escaped damage, stranding 10 runners over seven innings.
"We had trouble stringing hits together," said Staples coach Jack McFarland, whose team dropped to 5-5 overall. "We had some good swings, we hit the ball hard. We might've had some hits, but we couldn't put them together. ... Getting two-out hits with runners in scoring position, that's what the game's all about."
New Canaan, winners of six straight to move to 10-1, saw Casali help his cause with the bat. He reached base safely in all four plate appearances (2-for-2 with two walks) and drilled a two-run double off reliever Justin Gallanty to put the Rams up 7-0 in the sixth.
"On the on-deck circle, I saw him throwing a lot of junk, a lot of curveballs. I went up there just looking for a fastball and hoped to get ahead in the count," said Casali, who promptly ripped a heater into the left-field corner.
The Rams jumped on Staples left-hander Chris Speer in the first inning, plating three runs on three hits and a walk. After Brian Moran made it 1-0 with a single, third baseman Erik Jager drove in a pair with a one-out double.
"The first inning was big. We swing the bats aggressive," Hoffman said. "We're going to make you get us out. In this particular case, we hit the ball a little bit harder."
Speer retired the side in order in the second inning, but surrendered two more runs in the third. Alexander LaPolice's double with two outs made it 5-0.
"Give New Canaan credit. They came out swinging," McFarland said. "They got a couple big two-out hits that we didn't get."
Speer allowed five runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out six.
Trailing 7-0 in the sixth inning, Staples put two men on with one out, but had a runner tagged out at home on a fielder's choice. The Wreckers also loaded the bases in the seventh, but ran into another out at home while attempting to score on a wild pitch. Casali did the rest, recording his fourth and final strikeout to end it.
"I think the adrenaline definitely picks up in those pressure situations," Casali said. "You just have to bear down and do a job."
Staples has lost four of its last five games. The Wreckers have totaled 17 runs over that time, but McFarland is confident that his team will soon break out of its slump.
"I like the lineup, I believe in the lineup. I know it's going to hit," McFarland said. "It's going to break out. I was hoping it was going to be today ... but it will happen. We need to go on a little bit of a streak, a little winning streak.
"We've got to play with a little more swagger."
email@example.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour
NEW CANAAN 7, STAPLES 0
NEW CANAAN 302 002 0 -- 7 9 3
STAPLES 000 000 0 -- 0 7 1
Records: New Canaan 10-1; Staples 5-5.
Highlights: NC -- Casali pitched a complete game shutout, allowing seven hits while striking out five. He also batted 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBI. Erik Jager went 1-for-4 with a two-run double. Alexander LaPolice went 1-for-4 with two RBI. S -- James Frusciante went 2-for-4 with a double. Goodness pitched a scoreless inning in relief.