CHESHIRE — In his previous two outings this summer Brendan Duffy threw back-to-back no-hitters for the Stratford Senior Legion team. The Cheshire coaching staff was well aware of this fact ahead of Saturday afternoon’s state tournament Pod F opener — but they didn’t exactly go out of their way to publicize it to their players.
“The coaches knew, but we didn’t tell the kids,” Cheshire manager John Escoto said after his team won 10-0 in six innings at Cheshire High School.
Aware or not, it didn’t take long for Cheshire to snap Duffy’s hitless run. Cheshire (23-9) loaded the bases in the bottom of the first on a hit-by-pitch and two walks. With one out, Cole Escoto laced a sharp single the opposite way past first base to score a pair.
Duffy escaped further damage on the scoreboard, but Cheshire ran up his pitch count and he left the game with two outs in the second and the score 5-0. Duffy struck out two, walked three and allowed five runs (three earned) before giving way to Alex Koletar.
“I just didn’t have it. It was one of those games,” Duffy said. “They worked the count.”
Meanwhile Cheshire starter Ben Shadeck shut down the Stratford bats in quick order. The lefty was perfect through the first three and didn’t allow a hit until Zach Fedak’s single to left in the fifth. Shadeck went the distance, allowing one hit with four strikeouts and two walks on 77 pitches.
Cheshire’s defense took care of the rest, highlighted by Ben Schena pair of throws from deep short in the fifth that helped stifle Stratford’s comeback hopes.
“I have to give it to the guys for making nice plays,” said Shadeck, who threw mostly fastballs and changeups.
Shadeck remained focused and didn’t realize he was in the midst of a no-hitter, either.
“You could get five hits, you could get one hit, you could get zero hits,” he said. “It doesn’t go through my head.”
Ian Battipaglia’s RBI double in the fourth swelled Cheshire’s lead to 7-0, while Eli Battipaglia’s single to deep left with two outs in the sixth scored Escoto from third to end the game.
Shadeck also helped himself out at the plate, driving in a pair of runs.
“(Shadeck) shut us right down,” Stratford manager Mike Della Vecchia said. “We have to come out hitting. We can’t expect anything if we don’t hit. If we don’t put any pressure on them the game is one-sided.”
Both teams will be in action again on Sunday playing against either Wilton or Waterbury in Pod F play.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
BEN SHADECK, Cheshire: The lefty allowed one hit over six shutout innings and also drove in two runs.
Cheshire stole eight bases. “We’re an aggressive team,” manager John Escoto said.
“They were tired coming off the end of the season but they really bounced back today,”
— Escoto on his team’s 10-0 win over Stratford.
Cheshire 10, Stratford 0
STRATFORD 000 000—0 1 7
CHESHIRE 230 212—10 9 0
Batteries: S—Brendan Duffy (L), Alex Koletar (2), Tom Fernandez (6) and Ryan Duffy; C—Ben Shadeck (W) and Cole Escoto; Records: Stratford 13-9; Cheshire 26-3.