WEST HAVEN >> The last time the Notre Dame-West Haven and Amity baseball teams squared off about one month ago, the Spartans were looking to right the ship and the Green Knights were beginning to play well just a handful of games into the season.
What a difference four weeks can make.
The Green Knights fell in that game, but have since gone 13-2, including a 10-game winning streak.
Winners of two of their last three coming into the game, the Green Knights got timely hitting and were able to wiggle out of some jams in a 4-2 victory over the Spartans at Quigley Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
With the victory, the Green Knights head into the postseason with a 16-4 record, including a torrid stretch in the final 15 contests to end the regular season.
“We were 10-10 during that as well,” Notre Dame coach Lou Kessler said. “We beat a good Amity team. They beat us early on. They are vastly improved since we played them, like most teams do as the season goes on.
“We went back to the lineup we had. We have some guys who have to perform for us to be successful. Some guys were not performing and we moved things around.”
For the Spartans, plenty has come to fruition since starting the season with three straight losses.
The earlier win over the Green Knights got them going in the right direction, including a run that saw Amity win 12 of 15 games entering Wednesday’s contest.
“We love our team,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said after his team fell to 12-7. “We have improved our pitching. We have Mike Appel back and he is 3-0 since his return from an ankle injury. We feel like if we get the pitching and play good defense, we can beat anybody.
“We have struggled with consistency in every aspect of the game. We are slowly starting to put it all together. It has taken a while. We want to get the pitching, defense and hitting and we want to run the bases aggressively.”
Something had to give with both teams playing well and it did as the Green Knights took an early 2-0 lead, then scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
With the game even at 2in the bottom of the fourth, the Green Knights took advantage of some Amity miscues to pull ahead.
Evan Lumpinski started the winning rally when he reached on catcher’s interference, Lou DeGennaro reached on a one-out error, and Andrew Natale doubled to left to score Lumpinski for a 3-2 lead.
While the Green Knights did not capitalize further in the inning as Amity senior pitcher Nick Fusco got a foul out and strikeout to end the inning, Notre Dame took a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning after Amity squandered an opportunity in the top of the inning.
Notre Dame’s Drew Arciuolo and Dylan Reynolds opened the fifth inning with singles to put runners on the corners. Zack Balabon made the two hits count when his grounder to short scored Arciuolo for a two-run lead.
“One thing we talked about after the East Haven game is we have to go out there and win the game ourselves,” Kessler said. “We have to get the hits. We can’t expect other teams to win the games for us. I thought we got some big hits and made the plays we had to make.”
The Spartans had two chances to take the lead before Notre Dame did its damage, but Amity couldn’t convert.
In the fourth inning, Josh Sabitsky and Sebastian DiMauro opened with singles, but Jake Russo hit into a double play and Anthony Capozziello grounded out to end the threat.
“The double play was key,” Kessler said.
In the fifth, Chris Winkel opened with a walk and was on third with two outs. Again, Notre Dame’s Anthony Rovasio got out of the inning when he got Devin Belenski on a fly out to left field to end another threat.
The Spartans got another runner in scoring position in the sixth and Kyle Mattei singled with two outs in the seventh, but Amity did not get a clutch hit either time.
“They seemed to have more energy than us,” Coppola said. “They got the clutch hits and we did not. We did not make the plays.
“It was an interesting game. We hit the ball hard early on and I thought we were one or two batters away from knocking him out. But, we let him off the hook.”
Notre Dame started the scoring in the second inning with a pair of runs as Lumpinski opened with a double and moved to third on Mike Corso’s single. Natale came up big as his sacrifice fly scored Lumpinski and Corso scored the second run when Zach Ardito doubled to right.
Amity evened the game in the third. Russo reached on an error, moved to third on Capozziello’s double and Winkel singled to score Russo to get within 2-1. After Capozziello was out at the plate, Winkel scored on a single by Matt Ronai to even the game at 2.
“We made a couple of errors and we ran ourselves out of another situation,” Coppola said.
Fusco pitched well for Amity, going five innings, allowing four runs and striking out two.
Rovasio pitched a complete game for Notre Dame, allowing nine hits and two runs, while walking three and striking out three.
Natale led Notre Dame with two hits and two RBIs, while Capozziello and DiMauro each had two hits for Amity.