Quiet at the plate for five innings, the Staples High baseball team solved Newtown's Brandon Marks before it was too late.
Down five runs with six outs to go in Wednesday's season opener, the Wreckers erupted for six runs -- all off the ace right-hander -- to notch a dramatic 7-6 win over the Nighthawks.
Staples (1-0) collected five hits in the sixth, nearly matching their total from the previous five innings combined.
Marks, who limited the Wreckers to six hits -- five singles -- through the first five innings, departed with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. Newtown led 6-4 at the time.
"One thing about this program is the kids aren't going to quit," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "They feel like, when we play at home, we have a good chance. We're going to use all our outs."
Left fielder Matt Smith hit a ball off reliever Patrick Rowley that was misplayed in center to make it 6-5 in the sixth. Matt Campbell's bases-loaded walk tied it and designated hitter Frank Vartuli's groundout plated the go-ahead run for Staples.
"It was a game of adjustments, really, by our hitters," McFarland said. "That kid was throwing a good game, but we saw a lot of his pitches. By the fifth, sixth inning, we were starting to figure him out a little bit."
After stranding seven runners through five innings, Marks got into trouble early in the sixth. Vartuli led off with a double and second baseman Nick Vega bunted for a hit, bringing up Noah Yokoi. The Wreckers' catcher doubled to make it 6-2. Alex Ludel and James Frusciante followed with run-scoring singles to cut the deficit to two runs.
Marks walked only one and struck out seven over five-plus innings.
"The kid was a little bit of a puzzle with his curveball. He was throwing a nice game," McFarland said. "Our second and third time around, our kids made in-game adjustments at the plate. It really made a difference.
"Some kids had some awful at-bats the first couple innings."
Newtown coach Matt Memoli described Marks outing as "absolutely gutsy."
"He was an animal today," Memoli said. "When I took him out, the first thing I said was `There was not one other thing I could've asked.'"
Staples right-hander Greg Salamone, who recorded six saves in 2012, closed out the game with a perfect seventh inning.
"Last year he broke the (school) record for saves. He's cool out there. He knows how to close a game out," McFarland said.
Newtown, the defending South-West Conference champion, collected 10 hits.
The Nighthawks took a 3-1 lead in the third inning on designated hitter Julian Dunn's two-run single off left-hander Chris Speer. They tacked on a run in the fifth on a double by left fielder JP Blanco and two more in the sixth. Blanco went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Speer, a senior, allowed three runs on four hits over four innings for Staples. He departed down 4-1.
"He gave us what we wanted. I wanted him to throw about 70 pitches today,"McFarland said. "It's a cold day, it's a long season. I think anything more than that in this kind of weather is crazy."
Right-hander Justin Gallanty tossed two innings in relief for Staples and earned the win. He allowed three runs.
Newtown stranded seven runners in the loss.
"Against a team like this, you need everything you could get," Memoli said. "We just didn't get it done."
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STAPLES 7, NEWTOWN 6
NEWTOWN 012 012 0 -- 6 10 3
STAPLES 100 006 -- 7 11 0
Records: Newtown 0-1; Staples 1-0.