MIDDLETOWN >> Vinal Tech baseball coach Tyler LaMontagne knows how important it is to win close games. The Hawks suffered their third one-run loss of the season Monday, falling short against Bullard Havens Tech, 5-4, at the Thomas Serra Sports Complex and LaMontagne is hoping these kind of defeats won’t become a trend.
“We’re not going to win every one,” LaMontagne said. “But this was our fifth one-run ball game out of eight and what makes or breaks a season are those games. So hopefully this doesn’t break our season and we keep moving forward.”
For Bullard Havens (Bridgeport), it was a victory that could define their season.
“We’ve been playing really well but we haven’t been able to get over the hump,” said Tigers first-year coach Kevin Bellenot. “I think with this win we did that. I was handed a nice team from Coach (Mark) Mooney and I’m just trying to keep it together.”
The Tigers (5-4) built a 5-0 lead behind the sensational pitching of junior Christian Padro and the hitting of Kavon Ruffin (2-for-2).
Ruffin’s long two-run triple keyed a four-run uprising in the fourth against Hawks starter Josh Mollica. Ruffin, who also doubled and stole three bases, then scored on an RBI single from Brandon Ortiz.
Giovanni Rodriguez added an RBI single in the sixth off Hawks reliever Sean Paradis, giving the Tigers a 5-0 cushion.
Padro had blanked Vinal through the first five innings, allowing just two hits, a double by Ryan Fazzino and a Justin Clark single.
But the Hawks (5-3) rallied in the sixth, getting base hits from Fazzino (2-for-3) and Paradis, and an RBI groundout from Mike Greco. The Hawks also scored a pair of runs on a Tigers infield miscue.
“We woke up and that’s when we started coming back and making things happen,” added LaMontagne. “But they out hit us and we didn’t capitalize off of their mistakes as well as we should have.”
Padro, a crafty righthander, earned the complete game win by setting the Hawks down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
“(Padro) is phenomenal,” said Bellenot. “He’s got a couple of different pitches so it’s not just the curveball that he’s throwing. He knows his counts and he gets ahead of hitters and that’s what makes it easy for our defense. I’m happy with the way they came out today because they responded.”