NEWTOWN — It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.
The Newtown baseball team finished Monday night’s SWC showdown with Weston a lot stronger than it started, pulling out a 10-5 win at Fairfield Hills.
“We have a resilient bunch,” Newtown coach Ian Thoesen said. “We don’t get down. We’ve been scoring runs all season. I’m proud of my guys. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Starting pitcher Orlando Swift fell behind 3-0 but seemed to get stronger as the game went on while Luke Melillo plated three of his four RBIs with a bases-loaded double in the sixth as the Nighthawks improved to 12-4 with the win.
Melillo was 2-for-4 in the game while Jack Miller also had two hits for Newtown. Ben Harrison also drove in two runs.
After trailing 3-0 in the first and 5-4 in the fifth, Newtown battled back time and time again as the Nighthawks found their second wind and finishing kick.
Melillo tied the game with a single to center field in the fifth inning, advancing to third on a throwing error by the Trojans.
He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Robert Murray, giving Newtown a 6-5 lead.
“We kept fighting and kept our mentality up,” Melillo said. “Our dugout stayed up, we got some hits and kept it going.”
A SWIFT RESPONSE
Once Newtown had the lead again, Swift got stronger.
Despite throwing more than 100 pitches entering the sixth inning, Swift mowed down Weston’s 1-2-3 hitters with three straight strikeouts.
“Hat’s off to that kid in the sixth inning,” Weston coach Frank Fedeli said. “He came out with more than 100 pitches and just blew us away with fastballs. Our three best hitters and he threw it past us.”
Added Thoesen: “They hit him early, but he settled down. He looked a little stronger toward the end.”
Swift gave up 10 hits and five earned runs, but struck out 13 and walked three.
In the home half of the inning, the Nighthawks blew the game open with Melillo providing the big hit with a bases-loaded double.
“It was a curve ball, actually, and I just took it to right field,” Melillo said. “It felt great.”
It was the second straight game Weston had let slip away in a loss.
“I’ve told (my team), I’m at a loss,” Fedeli said. “We run into a strikeout double play. We can’t get a bunt down. We’re not backing up. We make errors. It’s all stupid little mistakes we’re making. It’s frustrating. I’m at a loss.”
The Trojans jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Will Bonkoci had an RBI single before Daniel Olins plated two runs with a base hit.
Newtown, however, stormed back to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third with Harrison’s two-run single putting the hosts ahead.
Weston responded with two more runs in the fourth, taking a 5-4 lead when Olins plated two more runs with a base hit.
Olins aided his own cause by going 3-for-3 with four RBIs. Will Vallela added two hits for the Trojans, who slipped to 6-10.
“We won SWCs last year and we want to do that again,” said Thoesen, Newtown’s second-year head coach. “But we also want to make a run at states. From the time pitchers and catchers reported, that’s been our goal.”
NEWTOWN 10, WESTON 5
WESTON 300 200 0—5 10 1
NEWTOWN 013 024 x—10 9 2
Records: Newtown 12-4, Weston 6-10; Batteries: W—Daniel Olins and J. Cavicchiia; N—Orlando Swift, Josh Taylor (7) and Ben Harrison.