BASEBALL: Masuk upsets No. 1 Staples
WESTPORT— The Masuk and Staples baseball teams have been playing early in the season for a decade now, building a nice little FCIAC-SWC rivalry in the process.
This season, with Staples entering the game as the No. 1 ranked team in the state, the game took on more importance for the visitors.
Masuk got two home runs in the fifth, breaking a tie and going on to defeat the top dogs in the state 4-2 Saturday afternoon in Westport.
After Josh Wittenberger homered leading off the fifth, senior Enzo Merlonghi blasted a two-run home run over the giant fence in left field, giving his team a 3-run cushion.
“That was a high, outside pitch and I probably should have gone the other way but I got ahead of it a little bit. I got a lot of the barrel on it and it just went,” Merlonghi said. “We came in to today with all of our confidence. We were all about the energy today and I loved it.”
Staples scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded and threatened for more but Wittenberger, pitching in relief, escaped the jam by inducing a groundball back to him for the last out with the potential winning run on base.
Wittenberger closed out the seventh with two straight strikeouts.
Masuk struck first with a run in the top of the first on a single to right by Chris Nicolia, scoring Nick Carusso.
Staples tied it in the fourth when Matt Stone drove in Chris Drbal with a single to left after Drbal reached on a fielding error.
That and the run in the sixth would be all sophomore Matt McGovern would give up in five innings of work before being lifted in the sixth for Wittenberger.
“He was crafty and he was good today,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said of McGovern. “It was his first start but he kept us off balance a little bit. He pitched a great game. Looks like (Masuk) found another pitcher, so, that’s good for him.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt McGovern, Masuk. Making his first varsity start, McGovern kept the Wreckers at bay with a quality mix of pitches, striking out six in five innings while only allowing three hits.
“(McGovern) was able to command three pitches,” Masuk coach Ralph Franco said. “We made a couple nice plays right off the bat to keep us there. Then we had a couple nice home runs to keep the pressure on them. Once you put pressure on the other team, you can change things around.”
In the top of the second, Staples’ Stone laced a line drive deep to left but Masuk left fielder Jared Smith fully dove for it, snagging it before it landed in front of the fence.
MASUK 4, STAPLES 2
MASUK 100 030 0—4 5 1
STAPLES 000 101 0—2 3 1
Records: M—4-5; S—6-2
Batteries: M—Matt McGovern (W), Josh Wittenberger (6) and Enzo Merlonghi; S—Sam Robin, Alex Deutsch (L), Alex Cheema (6) Chad Knight (7) and Matt Stone.