WEST HAVEN — Notre Dame-West Haven senior pitcher John Amendola didn’t feel he had his best fastball Monday afternoon. He adjusted.
Mixing a vast array of off-speed pitches with his trademark fastball, Amendola stifled cross-town rival West Haven in a 5-0 victory at Quigley Stadium. The right-hander tossed a complete-game three-hitter, striking out four as the Green Knights improved to 3-1.
“From the beginning of the game, I knew I did not have my best fastball,” Amendola said. “I knew I needed to get my off-speed pitches working. For my second game, I was very happy.
“The defense was great today. They were making plays from the beginning of the game.”
After Joe Sette led off the game with a single to center for West Haven, Amendola got into a rhythm that included setting down the next 15 Westies in order. By the time West Haven got its next base runner, a leadoff single by Matt Carter in the sixth inning, Notre Dame had a commanding 5-0 lead.
“You know he is going to keep you in every game,” Notre Dame coach Lou Kessler said of Amendola. “He was able to get that curveball going. West Haven was loading up for that first-pitch fastball. He keeps you in the game. We were able to play some defense behind him as well.”
While Amendola and the Notre Dame defense cruised throughout the contest, it was opposite for West Haven.
The Westies committed a pair of errors, were unable to play two bunts and did not turn double plays at crucial moments of the game.
“The bottom line is the defense has failed us the last two games,” West Haven coach Mike Anquillare said after his team fell to 2-2. “We pride ourselves on that and three of our four games it has not been good. I can tell you we will get it corrected.”
West Haven’s troubles started in the first inning when Sette walked leadoff batter Zach Ardito, then threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Drew Arciuolo’s bunt attempt was played into a single when no one from West Haven got to the ball in time, putting runners on the corners, where Ardito scored on Mike Corso’s grounder to short.
With the way Amendola was throwing, the Green Knights put the game away with three runs in the third inning. Poor coverage of a Notre Dame bunt again played a role in the Green Knights’ rally.
Lou DeGennaro and Ardito opened the inning with singles before Arciuolo’s bunt attempt was turned into a single for the second time to load the bases with no one out.
Corso singled to right to score DeGennaro, and after Sette got the next two outs, Dylan Reynolds doubled to center to score Ardito and Arciuolo for a 4-0 lead.
“We talked about it after the Fairfield Prep game,” Kessler said. “We have pretty good speed and watching how Fairfield Prep used the bunts, we talked about not being afraid to bunt for hits. We felt with the wind blowing in, there were not going to be a lot of runs scored.”
The Green Knights added an insurance run and knocked Sette from the game in the fifth inning. Arciuolo again was in the middle of the rally when he led off with a single.
Evan Lumpinski singled with one out and Zack Balabon walked to load the bases, ending Sette’s day. Angel Gonzalez got the next out for the Westies, but Chris Stankiewicz drove in a run with an infield single for a 5-0 lead.
West Haven’s last threat in the sixth inning when Carter led off with a single and Sette got his second hit one out later. After Rick Balzano reached on an error to load the bases, Amendola helped himself when he started an inning-ending double play off the bat of Mike Brand.
“We had a couple of chances,” Anquillare said. “You are not going to get many with him. We did not make plays. We missed a pickoff, we missed double plays and we made errors. There are their five runs.”
Arciuolo led Notre Dame with three hits and one run scored. Ardito added two hits for the Green Knights and Reynolds drove in a pair.
Sette had two of West Haven’s three hits and also pitched 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits.