HAMDEN – With a big series against Hamden Post 88 on the table, the Stratford American Legion baseball team picked a good time to get its offense going. Scoring in the first four innings, including four times in the fourth, Stratford rolled past Hamden 10-1 Tuesday evening at Rochford Field in Hamden.
The win, which was the team’s seventh in a row, puts Stratford on top of Zone II with a 12-1 record, while Hamden fell to fourth place at 8-5.
“This was a real solid win for us tonight,” Stratford coach Mike DellaVecchia said. “We hit the ball well up and down the lineup. This was probably our best hitting game all year. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit.”
After allowing Hamden to get within 2-1 with a run in the second inning, Stratford responded and took a 3-1 lead in the third when Zach Piroh led off with a double and scored two batters later when Anthony Herman delivered a run-scoring double.
Stratford then put the game away in the fourth inning with four runs for a 7-1 advantage. Adam Wojenski led off with a single, stole second, and scored on Brian Valeriano’s triple.
Connor Anstis followed with a walk and Piroh reached on a fielder’s choice. After Jack Duffy singled, Herman then had the big hit of the inning with a two-run single to give Stratford a six-run lead.
“They were 15-for-31 at the plate and we were 6-for-27,” Hamden coach Ray Guarino said. “That says it all. My starter (Andrew Kirschenbaum) was making his first start of the year. I thought he did okay.
“They scored a run in each of the first three innings, then four in the fourth. At 3-1 we are still in it. At 3-1, I can still bunt and steal. 7-1 is a totally different game. We are going station to station. We are trying to get guys on base, which we did not do.”
Stratford put the game away with three runs in the sixth. Valeriano led off with a walk, stole second and scored on a single by Piroh. Duffy also singled and two runs scored on a single by Jon Brooks for a 10-1 lead.
“It feels great,” DellaVecchia said. “We know we can’t take anything for granted. We played a very tough team tonight. The score was not indicative of the team they are. They are well-coached. It was just our night tonight. We got a really good pitching performance from Jon Brooks. He pitched ahead in the count all night. He did not get behind. He pitched well and our defense played well.”
Stratford struck quickly in the contest as Valeriano led off the game with a triple and scored on a single by Anstis. The guests increased the lead to 2-0 in the second when Rich Starkey hit a one-out single and scored when Dan DeCilio and Valeriano followed with singles, with Valeriano’s driving in the second Stratford run of the contest.
“Every game is important,” DellaVecchia said. “There is no distance between any of the teams. We are not looking ahead. There is a lot of baseball left. We are looking towards tomorrow night. We want to win each series. Getting the first game is huge for us. It is a momentum builder. We will try to keep it going.”
Hamden cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second when Austin Defilippo led off with a walk and scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Kirschenbaum.
“We did not play well,” Guarino said. “But, they also hit the ball very well tonight.”
Brooks pitched well for Stratford, allowing five hits, while striking out five and walking three. Valeriano reached base all four times for Stratford with two triples, a single and a walk, while also scoring twice and driving in a pair.
Piroh had two hits, scored three times, and drove in a run, while Duffy had three hits and two runs scored, and Herman had a pair of hits and drove in two.