SOUTH WINDSOR >> In a close game it usually comes down to execution.
In a top 10 match-up between No. 8 East Catholic and No. 10 South Windsor, that’s exactly what it came down to.
Once leading 4-0, South Windsor surrendered the lead to East Catholic in the fifth. The Bobcats fought back with two in the bottom of the inning, including a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Tyler St. Amand to bring across the would-be winning run at Rotary Field on Friday.
South Windsor defeated East Catholic 6-5.
St. Amand has received limited plate appearances this season. But when he was called upon with the game hanging in the balance, he delivered.
With already a run in in the bottom of the fifth with the score tied at 5, South Windsor had runners on first and third with one out when St. Amand was announced as the pinch hitter. He dug in with the intent of hitting, but at the last moment McDermott gave him the bunt sign and it worked to perfection.
Jake Siracusa scored from third and the Bobcats led 6-5.
“He’s not going to get many at-bats this year,” McDermott said. “And we throw him up in that situation and he executes perfectly.”
East Catholic, which scored four in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead, had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh. Shortstop Jimmy Titus singled with one out, but was later caught stealing before South Windsor starter Will Nowak got Jake Sylvester to pop out to end the game.
Nowak went all seven innings and allowed five runs — four earned — on seven hits while walking five and striking out five.
Something that’s been haunting East Catholic this season is allowing a large number of early runs and that’s what happened again on Friday.
“Tough spot for us is, we can’t spot four runs on basically one hit,” East Catholic coach Martin Fiori said. “When you talk about playing 21 outs, it seems like our kryptonite is the first two innings and once we get through the first two innings then we seem to be like we’re okay.”
The Eagles starting pitcher Jeff Walsh walked four and gave up one hit in the first when South Windsor scored four runs. The hit was a two-RBI triple from Siracusa.
“Jake Siracusa has been hitting the heck out of the ball,” McDermott said. “He’s come up with the big hits the last few games. …That was huge. We jumped on them early and the kids got a little confidence and we held on.”
East Catholic got one back in the fourth, but took the lead in the fifth when it scored four of its own.
Danny Kennedy and Marc Zazzaro started it off with a walks. Titus brought the first run in with a single to right — his second of three hits. The with two outs and the bases loaded, Matt Smith hit a bases clearing triple to give the Eagles a 5-4.
“We swung the bats,” Fiori said. “We can hit the ball. We have guys that do their job. The bottom of the lineup struggled a little bit today putting the ball in play. Might be a little bit different. Strikeouts were tough in certain situations. When we put it in play they didn’t always field the ball, they threw it around, so you can put pressure on them, but they executed and we didn’t.”
East Catholic had pulled its starter for Tyler Flanigan in the third inning and he retired six straight batters before Tom Sand led off the fifth with an infield single. Siracusa followed with a walk and then with one out Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with a single to center to tie it up before St. Amand’s squeeze bunt.
“It wasn’t a secret,” Fiori said. “But we have to execute the play that we call and when we don’t, they get to execute theirs and we don’t get to execute ours. That’s the difference.”
South Windsor 6, East Catholic 5
East Catholic: 000 140 0 — 5 7 2
South Windsor: 400 020 x — 6 5 2
(at Rotary Field, South Windsor)
Batteries: EC — Jeff Walsh, Tyler Flanigan (3/L) and Evan Kastauskas; SW — Will Nowak (W) and Alex Rodriguez.
2B: SW — Will Nowak.
3B: EC — Matt Smith; SW — Jake Siracusa.
RBI: EC — Matt Smith (3), Jimmy Titus, Justin Moreau; SW — Jake Siracusa (2), Alex Rodriguez, Tyler St. Amand.
SB: EC — Danny Glendon; SW — Ben Custer (2), Alex Rodriguez (2).
CS: EC — Jimmy Titus.
Team records: East Catholic 8-2; South Windsor 9-1.