Staples baseball contending in FCIAC
WESTPORT — One league loss isn’t going to prevent the Staples baseball team from getting to where it wants to go.
That’s the attitude the Wreckers are taking following a 7-2 FCIAC loss at the hands of Montana Semmel and the Westhill Vikings on Monday at Staples High.
It was the first conference loss for Staples, which is 8-1 in the FCIAC and 11-2 overall.
“Any time you lose you get more motivated,” said Staples senior tri-captain Chad Knight. “If anything it’s a wake-up call. Sometimes you learn you’re not as good as you think you are and sometimes you learn what your weaknesses are. Those are two really powerful things, especially for a team that wants to make a deep run in the playoffs.
“If we all stick together and we all buy into our coaches plans we’re going to have a really successful season.”
The Wreckers had their eight-game winning streak snapped, but up until Westhill, they had been playing some of their best ball of the season. Pitching and clutch hitting helped Staples to outscore its opponents 77-26 over that eight-game run.
In addition, the Wreckers were winning close games with half coming by one or two runs, but they did have two victories in five innings, which shows they can swing the bats.
“We have a really good team,” said Staples assistant coach Bob Smoler, who was filling in for head coach Jack McFarland against Westhill. “We’re going to fight and beat most clubs and win a lot of close games. We had a couple of blowouts but you have to bring your ‘A’ game if you’re going to beat us. We’re definitely up there with the top five teams in the state.”
Knight has been a beast at the plate, batting .629 from the leadoff spot prior to the loss to the Vikings with seven home runs and he has been at times a dominating presence on the hill.
Senior tri-captain Drew Rogers and junior Zach Zobel have also been bright spots at the dish and on the mound, senior tri-captain Harry Azadian leads a strong stable of arms with a 4-1 record, the lone loss coming to Westhill.
Azadian gave credit to the Viking hitters, who broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning and the Wreckers couldn’t recover.
“This is a game we can bounce back from and learn from,” Azadian said. “That team (Westhill) has got some great hitters and he (Semmel) definitely came here and threw the ball well today. We’ve got two tough games ahead (against Stamford and Ridgefield) this week but if we stay focused and the lineup keeps doing what it does good things will happen.”
Semmel pitched six strong innings to hold the potent Staples attack in check. There were several pro scouts milling around the backstop checking in on him and Knight during the contest.
“It was a lot of fun today, I loved it,” said Knight, who knocked in a run in the loss to account for 18 RBIs on the season. “We want to play against the best and I think Montana really enjoyed competing against us and we really enjoyed competing against him. He came out on top today and we have to applaud him for that.”
Semmel and Westhill won the battle but the war has still yet to be decided.
Staples played at Stamford on Wednesday and hosts Ridgefield on Friday’s Little League Day.