— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) May 16, 2016
WEST HAVEN – With a playoff spot still at stake, the Foran baseball team made sure to capitalize. Scoring twice in the first inning and three more in the second, Foran cruised to a 10-1 win over West Haven in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Piurek Field Monday evening.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Lions and helped the team improve to 7-10. More importantly, the win allowed the Lions to get one step closer to the postseason. The Lions need only a win in their final three games to play in the postseason.
“Winning two out of four sounds like a big task,” Foran coach Garrett Walker said. “Winning one of three does not sound as daunting. It is nice to get the first one out of the way. More important, we came out with a purpose tonight, played our style of play and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Lions took advantage of six West Haven errors and some early scoring to stop a stretch of five losses in six games. With its seventh consecutive loss, West Haven fell to 3-15.
“That is not a 6-8 (10) team,” West Haven coach Ron Luneau said of Foran. “They are a pretty good team. The kid (T.J.) Stuart is going to a Division I school for a reason. He threw very hard.”
The Lions gave T.J. Stuart all the run support he needed in the first inning. With one out, Justin Lanese was hit by a pitch by West Haven starter Sean Jefferson. Brett Huber followed with a single and Brian Wydra doubled with two outs to score both for a 2-0 advantage.
The Lions increased the lead to five runs with three more in the second. Bailey Wheeler reached on an error. After James Mucciaccaro reached on an error attempting to sacrifice, Jonathan Lickteig singled to left to score Wheeler. Colin Firmender followed with a single to right, scoring Mucciaccaro.
“It was nice to get out to a two-run lead,” Walker said of the start. “It was nice to play with a two-run lead. We have had one-run leads, but to see two runs is a big confidence booster.”
A pair of West Haven errors in the fourth helped Foran to a 6-0 lead, before the Lions put the game away with three more runs in the fifth. Lanese drove in a run with a single in the fifth and Bryan Firmender added another with a sacrifice fly off Nick Flammia for a 9-0 advantage.
Despite feeling he did not have his best stuff, Stuart was solid for six innings, allowing just one run on five hits, while striking out five and walking five.
“We have been on a little bit of a slide,” Stuart said after improving to 2-2. “We dropped four competitive games. We had four left and we knew we needed a win against a West Haven team which had played Fairfield Prep and Hamden tough. They were in competitive games. We wanted to jump the gun and we hit the ball well. We got the two runs and we were able to hold them without scoring early.”
West Haven could not capitalize on its opportunities. It left two runners in scoring position in the second when Stuart retired Kalan Morgillo on a grounder to first. With runners on the corners in the fourth, Stuart got Gates on a fly ball to right.
Stuart’s best effort came in the fifth. After Morgillo walked and moved to third on a double by Mario Kiaunis, Stuart struck out the next three batters to end the frame.
“It was a very gutsy performance,” Walker said of Stuart. “He competed with just his fastball and not his best secondary pitches.”
Lanese and Mucciaccaro led Foran with two hits apiece.