NORWALK — As a pitcher, Danbury’s Ryan Solimine knows his team is always behind him.
Now he knows it was a base runner, too.
After Solimine was picked off at second base with nobody out in the top of the ninth, the Hatters found a way to manufacture a run to pull out a 2-1 win over Norwalk at the Callahan Athletic Complex on Wednesday.
“I don’t know. I was just sleeping,” Solimine said. “I didn’t know it was coming, but my teammates back me up.”
Solimine had thrown eight innings of two-hit baseball, so it would have been easy for the Hatters to let him off the hook anyway.
Still, after the pickoff Danbury responded. With Alex Rodrigues on first via a walk, Javon Hernandez laid down a bunt single with two outs.
A Norwalk error on a ground ball then allowed Rodrigues to scamper home from second with the go-ahead run, giving Danbury its seventh win of the season against eight losses.
“High school baseball is about admitting you’re going to make mistakes, because you’re going to make mistakes,” Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford said. “It’s about learning from it and moving on.”
On Tuesday, Danbury had a 4-2 lead in the seventh against Fairfield Warde, but a couple of miscues turned into a 6-4 loss.
Against Norwalk, the Hatters learned from it — playing error-free ball for all nine innings — and gave the ball to Solimine on the hill.
“Ryan gives us a chance every time he pitches,” Ratchford said. “He works quickly and attacks the strike zone and we made the defensive plays behind him.”
Solimine said the secret was putting Tuesday’s loss behind the them.
“I just forgot about it,” he said. “I didn’t even think about it when I was on the mound. I just thought about throwing strikes and picking the team up.”
Solimine, who threw 100 pitches, struck out nine and walked one while giving up just one earned run to the Bears.
Solimine also had two hits for the Hatters, as did Javon Hernandez, who had a double. Justin Hope had an RBI, driving home an unearned run in the first inning and staking Danbury to a 1-0 lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The final out.
With the tying run on third base (Norwalk’s Randy Mateo had doubled and moved to third on a groundout), the Bears’ Brendan Edvardsen hit a sky-high pop-up in the infield.
Rodrigues, Danbury’s second baseman, called for it, but had to make an awkward, sprawled-out, diving catch to end the game.
“When the ball was hit, I was right under it,” Rodrigues said. “Then a gust of wind blew the ball in and I made the catch. If we had played grass, I wouldn’t have gotten it, but I slid across the turf. I’m at a loss for words.”
THE NORWALK NIGHTMARE
The Bears got a great pitching performance from starter Joey Benincaso, who pitched eight innings and scattered four hits with seven strikeouts and four walks.
Norwalk’s defense, however, had as many errors as the Bears’ offense had hits: three.
“If we were writing a book on how to lose baseball games, it’d be a best-seller,” Norwalk coach Pete Tucci said. “We’re finding ways to lose games that would embarrass Little League kids. But that’s who we are; that’s our record.”
The Bears, who slipped to 4-10 and must win four of their last six to qualify for the state tournament, got two hits from Mateo and a base knock from Jake Dumas.
Mateo plated Marco Monteiro in the fourth inning to tie the game.
DANBURY 2, NORWALK 1 (9)
DANBURY 100 000 001—2 6 0
NORWALK 000 100 000—1 3 3
Records: Danbury 7-8, Norwalk 4-10; Batteries: D—Ryan Solimine, Justin Hope (9) and Jacob Matson; N—Joey Benincaso, David Chuba (9), Jack Letizia (9) and Marco Monteiro; WP—Hope, LP—Chuba.