Staples baseball out-dueled by Fairfield Warde, 1-0
Published 6:19 am, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Heading into the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon, both teams were still scoreless. Burns had allowed just four hits, Natoli only one.
The game in Fairfield was going to come down to who would made a mistake.
And it was Burns that left a breaking ball in the zone and Zach Weinstein slapped one-out a RBI single to right in the bottom of the seventh to give the unbeaten Mustangs an emotional 1-0 win over the Wreckers Tuesday.
"We had the feeling that if we could continue to put pressure on them, eventually we'd come through," Warde coach Mark Caron said. "And Zach has been one of our most clutch hitters so far."
Designated hitter Zavier Espinel drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh and pinch-runner Quinn Hermann -- who arrived in the fifth inning after playing in the JV game -- went to second on a Burns' wild pitch (he threw four in the game). Natoli sacrificed Hermann to third and then Staples intentionally walked Reece Maniscalco to get to Weinstein, Warde's No. 9 hitter.
On a 1-2 pitch, Weinstein punched a liner past Staples first baseman Ross Poulley into right field for the game-winning hit. For his heroics, Weinstein was given a Gatorade bath by his teammates while being interviewed by a local TV station.
"It was a great moment," Natoli said. "Zach's been clutch for us all year and he came through again."
But no one was more clutch than Natoli, who threw 98 pitches in going the distance. He gave up just two hits, striking out 11 and only allowing two Staples runners advance as far as second base.
"I don't think too many people know about John Natoli, but he worked harder than anybody in the off-season harder than anyone I've ever coached," Caron said. "He worked on his mechanics, he committed himself on getting stronger. His location ... he had the curveball working, change-up working. He really dominated tonight."
"It's always good to go against the best," Natoli said of his battle against Burns, who will be playing at Columbia this fall. "We both competed really well today. Everything was on. I was throwing the ball well and hitting my spots. I went right after them."
As did Burns. Maybe a little too aggressively.
"You have to see what's happening in the game and sometimes you have to think, `OK, I have to shut them out.' That's it. That's always been my mentality," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "If there's a guy on first and they're bunting and they're giving an out and you want to throw a curveball in the dirt and give them second base ... game over."
Burns allowed five hits and struck out eight and had to get out of jams in the fourth and the sixth when the Mustangs had runners on second and third.
"They made more plays. They played smarter and they won the game," McFarland said. "Give credit to their pitcher (Natoli), he threw the ball well. I was little disappointed in our offense, I wish we could have gotten a couple more hits. It was a pitchers' duel."
Staples threatened in the top of the seventh when shortstop Ben Casparius doubled to lead off the inning. But Natoli struck out Noah Yokoi and Poulley and got Marco Latella to fly out to center to end the inning.
"Noah is the best hitter in the FCIAC, he's never going to bunt," McFarland said. "They got the timely hit in the seventh, that's how it went down."
Warde improved to 7-0, 5-0 FCIAC with a game Wednesday at Darien. Staples fell to 4-2 overall, 2-2 in the FCIAC and heads to Greenwich on Wednesday.
"This was so important. One more win and we qualify for states," Weinstein said. "I think this is our best start in school history, we just have to keep rolling."
STAPLES 000 000 0 --0 2 1
WARDE 000 000 1-- 1 5 0
Records: Warde 7-0, 5-0 FCIAC; Staples 4-2, 2-2. Batteries: W--John Natoli (W, 1-0) and Dan DeBartolomeo; S--Ian Burns (L, 2-1) and Phil McGovern. Highlights: W--Zach Weinstein had the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. Natoli struck out 11 and allowed just two hits. Bobby Lazar had a double. S--Ben Casparius had a double. Burns struck out eight.