EAST HAVEN – After splitting the first ten games of the season, Hand baseball coach Travis LaPointe hoped his team would get hot and enter the postseason with some momentum. It is safe to say LaPointe’s team got the message.
With a 10-6 Southern Connecticut Conference victory over East Haven at East Haven High Thursday afternoon, the Tigers closed the second half of the season by winning eight of their last ten games, including the last three contests of the regular season.
“We started the season 5-5, but we are playing our best baseball right now,” LaPointe said. “We wanted to be playing our best baseball right into the tournament, and that is what we are doing right now. We have been really aggressive.”
Hand (13-7) proved to be opportunistic against the Yellowjackets, capitalizing on three hit batters, nine walks and five East Haven errors to produce the 10 runs.
The Tigers had just one player with multiple hits as James DeGrasse finished with two hits and four runs batted in.
“Our offense has been hitting,” DeGrasse said. “Some of us were in slumps, but we just started looking for singles. We are not trying to think too big. We have been thinking singles and we really have been hitting the ball hard.”
After each team scored once in the first inning and twice more in the second, Hand pulled away for good with three runs in the third and four more in the fourth for a 10-3 lead.
With two runners in scoring position to open the third thanks to a pair of East Haven errors, DeGrasse gave Hand a 5-3 advantage when his double to left scored Cam Fitzgerald and Robert Bordiere. Tom Hobin delivered DeGrasse later in the inning with a sacrifice fly to left for a 6-3 lead.
“He had a big day for us today,” LaPointe said of DeGrasse.”He hit the ball well. We did a nice job hitting today.”
The Tigers sent eight batters to the pate in the fourth, scoring four times to take a 10-3 lead.
Will Reiner opened the inning with a double, Julian Barerji walked and both scored on a double to left by Fitzgerald. DeGrasse plated Fitzgerald later in the inning with a sacrifice fly to left, and Ian Butler doubled to score Mike Elias, who had walked earlier in the inning.
Hand starter Spencer Oliver worked two scoreless inning before East Haven got back in the game with three runs in the fifth.
With one out, Sam Loda singled, Nick Kraszewski doubled to put a pair in scoring position and Jake Ferrara grounded out to score Loda.
Frank Camera followed with a single to score Kraszewski, and Dom Delbasso picked up his third hit of the game with a triple to right to score Camera.
“We have to clean some things up,” LaPointe said. “We came out really aggressive. We were really loose at the plate and we are a really loose group overall.
“We were really aggressive on the bases and at the plate. That’s who we are. We have a ton of respect for East Haven. We knew they were going to keep coming back. At no point did we feel our lead was safe with the way they come back.”
East Haven (12-8) had two innings to get the equalizer, but the Yellowjackets stranded a pair in the sixth, and had a runner picked off in the seventh to end any thoughts of a comeback.
Ferrara and Nate Furino each had two hits and a run batted in for East Haven.