DARIEN — Somewhat surprisingly, the Fitch and Darien baseball teams played an almost mistake-free game in what was the season opener for both on Saturday.
What that meant however, was that any miscue was magnified.
It took just two by Darien, a wild pitch and a botched-pickoff attempt, to make the difference in a 4-2 Fitch road victory.
“I thought overall it was well played, we had two miscues that cost us,” Blue Wave coach Mike Scott said. “Things that are correctable, and a lot of what high school baseball comes down to is which team doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot.”
The teams traded runs early on as Darien’s Harry Rayhill doubled in Henry Williams with two outs in the first. Fitch responded in the second when Tyler Nelli came home on a wild pitch after singling to lead off the inning.
From there, both starters settled in.
Fitch junior Thomas Taber pitched all seven innings, keeping the Darien bats off-balance for the duration.
“I can’t say enough about him,” said Fitch manager Brian McGugan, who notched his first career win on Saturday. “He’s not a hard thrower, but he’s just a pitcher.”
Williams went 4 2/3 innings for the Wave, allowing two runs and striking out 10.
“He was great,” Scott said. “He was challenging the hitters, they had a couple little seeing-eye hits, one wound up biting us a little bit, but I thought for his first outing he kept us right where we need to be.”
Giovanni Valentine singled home the go-ahead run in the fifth, and again was in the middle of the action when the Falcons needed some insurance in their final at bat.
The sophomore doubled in a run, and eventually came home to score on an errant pickoff throw at third base.
The Darien bats finally woke up in the seventh, getting runners on the corners with one out. A sacrifice fly from Nick Conte scored Justin van de Graaf, but the Wave would get no closer.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Valentine, Fitch. The sophomore No. 2 hitter went 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored in the win.
“That was huge,” McGugan said of Valentine’s performance. “He’s had a good beginning of the season in our scrimmages really stepping up as a young guy and obviously came through today with the bat.”
ONE WAY TO DO IT
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth, Fitch’s Nicholas Helbig dribbled a ball to third and was thrown out. Only, Helbig didn’t run, arguing that the ball had been fouled off his leg. McGugan pleaded the same case, but to no avail and Darien escaped the jam.
Darien slugger Sean O’Malley missed Saturday’s opener with a hamstring issue, something Scott hopes is resolved sooner than later.
“We can’t wait to get him back in the lineup,” Scott said. “We hope he gets some clearance on Monday…he’s one of the best hitters in the league, it’ll be an advantage when we get him back. At the same time, we have enough here to be better than we were today.”
FITCH 4, DARIEN 2
FITCH 010 010 2—4 9 0
DARIEN 100 000 1—2 5 1
Records: Fitch 1-0; Darien 0-1. Batteries: F—Thomas Taber (W) and Tyler Nelli; D—Henry Williams (L), Jackson Vaught (5), Justin van de Graf (7) and Arthur Xanthos.