Staples baseball upends West Haven
For a team expecting to have punch from the top to the bottom of its batting order, Staples High ran into a problem this year where putting up crooked innings was a rarity, instead of the norm.
The Wreckers, however, delivered for a change on Wednesday.
Behind a four-run third inning and three-run sixth, No. 17 Staples knocked off No. 16 West Haven 7-4 in its LL state baseball tournament opener.
The game began on Tuesday, but was suspended after a scoreless first inning because of rain.
Second baseman Nick Vega's three-RBI day spurred on the Wreckers, who scored three runs or fewer in four of their previous five games.
"I think one of our problems was that we've kind of been over-confident just thinking that it's going to happen naturally," Vega said, referring to the offense. "I think we just took pride in each of our at-bats today and just did the best that we could."
Staples (13-8) will play top-seeded Xavier in the second round on Thursday (after Westport News deadline) in Middletown. The Falcons (19-1) had a first-round bye.
Scoreless in the third inning, Staples jumped on West Haven for four runs on four hits, with all of those runs charged to West Haven ace Nick Price.
Price, who came into the day with five wins and a sub-1.00 ERA, lasted just 2 1/3 innings. The right-hander exited after allowing an RBI single to Vega. Cameron Stone entered in relief and served up a two-out, two-run double to James Frusciante two batters later to make it 4-0.
"He just didn't have it -- the first time," West Haven coach Mike Anquillare said of Price.
After West Haven (12-9) tacked on three runs in the fifth inning against left-hander Chris Speer to cut it to 4-3, the Wreckers responded.
Frank Vartuli's bases-loaded walk with two outs made it 5-3 Staples in the sixth. Vega followed with a two-run single through the right side to push it to 7-3.
"West Haven is great team. We knew they have a real good pitcher," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "It took real good focus and understanding of the strike zone to do the damage we needed to do today."
Speer, who like Price pitched a scoreless inning on Tuesday, earned the win. The southpaw was charged with three runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"He threw as many (pitches) as he could. He started losing it a little bit, but he just gutted it out," McFarland said.
"He shut us down on the mound," Anquillare added. "I thought he threw real well. ... He came back strong today."
After West Haven's Tyler Gambardella singled to cut it to 4-2 in the fifth, Alec Johnson came on in relief for Staples and limited the damage. The right-hander allowed an inherited runner to score in the fifth, but pitched the final 2 2/3 innings.
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STAPLES 7, WEST HAVEN 4
STAPLES 004 003 0 -- 7 7 0
WEST HAVEN 000 030 1 -- 4 6 1
Records: Staples 13-8; West Haven 12-9.
Batteries: S -- Chris Speer (W), Alec Johnson (5) and Noah Yokoi. WH -- Nick Price (L), Cameron Stone (3), Matthew Carter (6) and Rick Balzano.
Highlights: S -- James Frusciante hit a two-run double. Nick Vega had three RBI. Matt Smith drove in a run with a double. WH -- Balzano hit an RBI double. Michael Brand drove in two runs with a single and sacrifice fly. Tyler Gambardella had an RBI single.