HAMDEN >> With two teams struggling to score runs early in the season, something had to give when Ansonia and Hamden squared off Wednesday evening. Scoring single runs in the second and third innings, Hamden Post 88 rode the pitching of Ronald Grant to a 2-0 Zone II victory over Ansonia at Legion Field in Hamden.
Grant mixed his pitches effectively, allowing just five hits, while striking out 12 and walking two. The Hamden lefty kept Ansonia off balanced throughout, leading Hamden to its initial victory of the season.
“It was definitely my fastball tonight,” Grant said after his team improved to 1-3. “I kept it under control. I have been working on my arm angle. I was in control of my fastball and I was hitting my spots.”
Hamden gave Grant all the run support he needed early in the contest. With two outs in the second inning, Matt Barnett, who singled and scored, was followed by another single by Sam Kirschenbaum and an error on a ball hit by Eli Camner to produce the first run.
In the third inning, Christian Colon reached on an error with one out, before Paul Wetmore reached on another error and Marc Masciantonio singled. Barnett also singled, but Post 88 was only able to plate the one run in the inning.
“It feels really good to get that first win,” Hamden coach Ray Guarino said. “We have been hitting balls right at people. Our problem has been leaving guys on base. Tonight we left ten guys on base.”
With the two-run lead, the rest was up to Grant, who retired seven in a row before Sean Bonaparte opened the fourth with a single. With runners on the corners and two outs, Grant got out of the inning by striking out Ansonia pitcher Michael Rhodes.
Jared Venson walked with two outs in the fifth for Ansonia, but was nailed trying to steal second by Colon for the final out of the inning.
“We have a lot of young kids,” Ansonia general manager Dave Rhodes said after his team fell to 0-7. “Half of them are new this year. You get into a wood bat league against a quality pitch and it is going to be tough. Five teams in our zone got to the quarterfinals in the high school playoffs. This is the toughest zone in New England.”
Ansonia, which has scored just five runs this season and has been shut out three times, had a two-out rally in the sixth after Darwin Elias and Jayden Tinney singled, but Grant got a ground out to end the frame.
Rhodes reached on an error to lead off the seventh, but Grant capped the game by striking out two of the last three batters to end the contest.
“He was great today,” Guarino said of Grant. “He got ahead of 20 of the batters he faced. He was able to get ahead, then do what he wanted. He was able to throw what he wanted. His fastball was good today. It had a little life.”
Hamden had one last rally in the sixth as Masciantonio and Khaleb Cyril opened the inning with walks and Barnett hit an infield single to load the bases.
Ansonia’s Rhodes escaped without any damage as he got Kirschenbaum on a liner to center and forced Camner to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Bonaparte led Ansonia with two hits, while Barnett had three hits and a run scored for Hamden.