Staples sophomore pitcher Ben Casparius made his first career varsity start a year ago as a freshman against New Canaan and said he was looking forward to the rematch more than any game on the schedule this season feeling the teams bring out the best in each other.

Casparius was right about that, doing all he could both offensively and defensively to lead Staples to a hard-fought 5-2 win over visiting New Canaan.

"I pitched against them last year and it is always fun," Casparius said. "It is actually more fun than any other game, I think. We got a good win today."

Casparius went the distance on the mound, striking out eight and allowing just four hits in picking up the victory.

Casparius was able work backwards, establishing his breaking pitches early in counts, keeping the Rams off balance.

"I established my curveball a lot better this game," Casparius said. "I think it is a great go-to pitch and even down in the count, I was 2-1 on a couple of hitters, and I was able to go curveball, curveball again and then the fastball or change. They have a great top of the order and they hit the ball off me pretty well so I had to be selective today."

New Canaan (11-3, 10-2 FCIAC) began the day in second place, but fell back to the pack of playoff contenders with the loss. Staples (10-4, 8-4) meanwhile gave itself a big boost in the standings with two weeks to play.

After the Rams stranded a runner at third in the top of the first, Nate Panzer greeted New Canaan starter David Giusti with a line-drive single and then Casparius hit a home run over the high fence in left field known as the "Blue Monster" making it 2-0.

Giusti then got into a groove himself, allowing just one more hit on the afternoon, going the distance while striking out nine.

Unfortunately for the Rams, the other hit was a two-out, 3-run home run by Eric Hawes in the fourth inning after two men walked earlier in the inning.

"He pitched a three hitter but two of them left a small park but the kid pitched his heart out," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "He kept them off balance, we out hit them but we just didn't get the hits at the right time. You chalk it up as a good learning experience."

New Canaan got to Casparius in the fifth with Kyle Levasseur plating two runs with a double to left center field. However, a sharp line drive by Zack Smith was right at the right fielder, ending the rally.

Staples coach Jack McFarland said the home runs were big, but the at bats players had ahead of them was what made the difference in the game.

"Big swings but really big at bats before that with kids working two-out walks," McFarland said. "With two great pitchers going the hitters are going to be locked in and they had a couple good swings but the ball stayed down. That was a high-level baseball game you just saw right there."

Scott.Ericson@scni.com; @EricsonSports

Staples 5, New Canaan 2

NEW CANAAN 000 020 0--2 4 0

STAPLES 200 300 X--5 3 1

Records: S 10-4, 8-4 FCIAC; NC 11-3, 10-2 FCIAC

Batteries: S--Ben Casparius (W 3-0) and Phil McGovern; NC--David Giusti (L) and Zack Smith

Highlights: S--Casparius 8 Ks; 2-run HR; Eric Hawes 3-run HR; NC--Giusti 9 Ks; Kyle Levasseur double, 2 RBI