WEST HAVEN — Notre Dame sophomore Dylan Reynolds is well aware of the history between Notre Dame and West Haven. He was more than willing to thrust himself into the longtime rivalry.
In control from start to finish and getting stronger as the game went on, Reynolds tossed a complete-game five-hitter as Notre Dame won its eighth straight game with a 4-1 decision over the Westies at Piurek Field Monday afternoon.
“I just wanted to get ahead in the counts,” Reynolds said. “I did not want to fall behind. It is fun pitching against them. We want to beat them and they want to beat us. It is always a battle.”
Notre Dame, which swept the season series from the Westies allowing just one run combined in both games, came into the game short on pitching with a pair of victories Friday and Saturday, including one over then No. 2 Fairfield Prep. Reynolds gave Notre Dame coach Lou Kessler all he could have hoped for.
“We used up our pitching staff Friday and Saturday with our games,” Kessler said. “We were looking for somebody to step up and he (Reynolds) did a nice job.
“He was ahead in the counts and he used his curve and change. We needed him to throw strikes and that is what he did. That was big for us.”
The game was a nail-biter throughout until the Green Knights (11-2) iced the contest with a pair of runs in the seventh inning off West Haven reliever Frank Johnson.
Drew Arciuolo led off with a triple and immediately scored on Reynolds’ single to center. After Reynolds moved to second on a sacrifice by Mike Corso, Evan Lumpinski singled to left to score Reynolds for a 4-1 lead.
The insurance runs were big as Kessler had thoughts of bringing ace John Amendola out for the seventh. Instead, Amendola got a rest, Reynolds quickly retired the side in the bottom of the seventh and the Green Knights kept rolling along.
“Those two runs were huge, no question about it,” Kessler said. “I probably would have gone with Amendola in the last inning. But, Dylan did a great job. Our defense played really well also.”
The Westies had limited scoring opportunities in the game, but two came back to haunt them. In the second, Nick Price led off with a single and moved to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. With two outs, Matt Carter grounded out to end the inning.
West Haven’s best opportunity to even the game came in the fifth. Trailing 2-0, West Haven’s Rick Balzano led off with a single, Mike Savino reached on an error and Carter’s attempted sacrifice went for a bunt single to load the bases with no one out.
Gary Donovan brought in Balzano with a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to 2-1, but West Haven never added another run. Reynolds got Jake Kelly on a fly ball to center and Jesse Tejero on a grounder to third to end the inning.
“We hung in there with them,” West Haven coach Mike Anquillare said after his team dropped its fourth straight and fifth in its last six games to fall to 4-8. “What hurt was having the bases loaded with no outs and only coming away with one run. That was not enough.”
Notre Dame got the only runs it needed in the second, scoring twice off Savino. Zack Balabon led off with a single, Zach Ardito reached on a bunt single and each advanced on Lou DeGennaro’s sacrifice. Andrew Natale tripled down the line in right to score Balabon and Ardito for a 2-0 lead.
“That was a big hit right there,” Kessler said.
Savino danced in and out of trouble for West Haven through four innings, but allowed just the two runs. Johnson entered in the fifth and held Notre Dame scoreless until the seventh.
“We hung in there with two guys with zero varsity innings,” Anquillare said. “We were looking for our pitchers to keep us in the game today and they did. We just could not come up with that clutch hit.”
Joe Sette led West Haven with a pair of hits.