Led by a superb defensive effort – in the outfield and behind the plate – paired with a balanced attack at bat, the Staples baseball team defeated Ridgefield 7-4 to improve to 8-3 and 7-2 in the FCIAC.
“This is the point in the season where you separate yourself,” Staples head coach Jack McFarland said. “Either you’re going to start rising through the standings or drop down with everybody else. And today was the first step.”
The Wreckers are in the middle of a big stretch of baseball as they host Ludlowe Saturday and then travel to New Canaan on Monday. They end next week facing Darien. Friday’s game was a good boost and the right momentum the Wreckers needed.
“It’s nice to be able to give up four runs and still win a game,” McFarland said.
Staples got things going early in the bottom of the second as Adam Dulsky led off with a single and then stole second. The Wreckers loaded the base and with two outs Nick Vega connected on a pitch that was misthrow to first. The Wreckers took advantage of the error as three runs scored. An RBI single followed allowing Vega to score for the 4-0 lead.
“That play in the second inning was the turning point,” Ridgefield head coach Paul Fabbri said. “It’s basically a four-run play and that’s the difference in the game.”
The Staples defense did its job, led by senior catcher Dulsky who was outstanding. He threw down two runners in the first inning, while the outfield, highlighted by centerfielder Nate Panzer, who made a highlight-worth catch and then alertly threw to third base to tag out the runner for the double play.
McFarland said this was Panzer’s first start in center.
“I just like the way he (Panzer) attacks the baseball,” McFarland said.
Staples’ Ross Poulley put Staples up 5-0 with a solo home run in the fourth.
For Ridgefield it was an afternoon of inconsistency. The Tigers did a good job of battling back into the game, scoring three runs in the fifth, but could never quite continue the momentum.
In the fifth and sixth inning Ridgefield had multiple bases occupied and chances to tie and take the lead but couldn’t produce.
“We made base running mistakes in the first two innings, and then in the fifth and the sixth we had opportunities at bats. I thought we lost that game,” Fabbri said.
The Staples offense took over from there, as Topher Brown broke open a 5-3 game in the bottom of the sixth as he lined one to the outfield as two runs scored to give Staples a 7-3 advantage.
Poulley and Brown both went 2 for 2 at the plate, Brown added 2 RBIs and Dulsky went 2 for 3. Poulley scored three runs.
“We had some kids in the bottom of the order come up big for us,” McFarland said.
Ridgefield was led by Wright Lindgren who went 2 for 3 and added a solo home run the seventh to make it 7-4. Teammate John Boscia scored one run.
Ridgefield’s Sam Sarath was credited with the loss for the Tigers.
On the mound, Staples’ Rob Vallone picked up the win as he went 4 and 1/3 innings, giving his best effort not allowing a run to score. Teammate Justin Gallanty came in with the bases loaded and one out and held his own as he finished the game.
“I thought Robby was a bulldog,” McFarland said. “He’s got a bad blister on his finger, and fighting through it, and he went as far as he could. And I thought Justin (Gallanty) came in and moved the game along and threw strikes.”
With the win, Staples sits in second place in the FCIAC.
“I feel like our best baseball is still down the road,” McFarland said. “There’s a high ceiling on this team.”