GREENWICH — Westhill junior right-hander James Gerard made the most of his first start of the season on Wednesday.
Normally one of the Vikings’ closers, Gerard was asked to start against host Greenwich and he certainly answered the call in a big way.
Allowing three runs over seven strong innings, Gerard sparked Westhill on the mound, while senior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak ignited his squad at the plate, hitting two home runs in the Vikings’ 7-3 win over Greenwich.
The victory upped the Vikings’ record to 10-4 overall and 6-4 in FCIAC play. Greenwich dropped to 3-10 overall with its second straight loss and 2-6 in the conference.
Effectively mixing his fastball and slider, Gerard allowed six hits and pitched to contact, striking out two batters.
“I tried to do what I do at the end of the game, but start at the beginning,” Gerard said. “I tried to work ahead in the count and get outs — that was the key. I thought I could have got a few more strikeouts, but we played a great game defensively.”
Leading 2-0, Westhill added three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 5-0 advantage. Senior outfielder Sammy Spingola delivered a base hit to center field with the bases loaded, bringing home a run and giving the visitors a 3-0 lead. Greenwich right-hander Alex Roath, who started, pitched four solid innings, before running into some trouble in the fifth inning.
Luc Thiebault relieved Roath with one out in the fifth inning. Junior outfielder George Psicopaidas drew a bases-loaded walk, putting Westhill on top, 4-0. An error on a pickoff throw to second base brought in another Westhill run in the inning.
After throwing four scoreless innings, Gerard yielded three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Junior outfielder Danny Perez hit a two-run double down the right field line and senior outfielder Jackson Blanchard hit a sacrifice fly, cutting the Vikings’ lead to 5-3. Nick Alonzi started by laying down a bunt toward third for a base hit and Stephen Bennett reached on an infield error. Sean Pratley also reached on a bunt single to load the bases.
“When they rallied in that inning, I knew I had to keep getting outs no matter what the score was and keep bearing down,” Gerard said.
Greenwich lefty Zach Karson pitched a scoreless sixth inning, before Westhill tallied two runs in the seventh. Zmarzlak hit a two-run home run over the center field fence off GHS sophomore right-hander Zach Alza, making it 7-3. One of the Vikings’ captains, Zmarzlak led of the first inning with a home run off Roath, giving the visitors a quick 1-0 edge.
“The first one, I was just trying to stay with it,” Zmarzlak said. “It was a curve ball and I got under it a little bit, but thankfully, it went out. The second one, I was just trying to stick to my approach.”
Zmarzlak added a solo homer earlier in the game for the victors. Gerard retired the Cardinals in the seventh inning without allowing a run to seal the win and earn his first victory as a starter on the mound this season.
“We hurt ourselves with our at-bats, but give their pitcher credit,” GHS coach Mike Mora said. “He mixed it up, he threw strikes and he kept us in check early in the game. We hit too many fly balls. We are not a power hitting team, we have to hit line drives and go to the opposite field.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Gerard came through for the Vikings with a strong start.
“He has been our go-to guy in a tight spot,” Westhill coach DJ Mulvany said. “He throws three pitches for strikes, he hammers the zone and he doesn’t walk a lot of guys. We were very confident in him today. I was very happy with the quality start from him.”
Zmarzlak smashed two homers, setting the tone early with a solo shot to start the game.
“We had some losses early in the season, but I feel like we are rolling now,” Zmarzlak said.
WESTHILL 7, GREENWICH 3
WESTHILL 110 030 2 — 7 9 1
GREENWICH 000 030 0 — 3 6 1
Batteries: W — James Gerard (WP) and O’Connor; G — Alex Roath, Luc Thiebeault, Zach Karson, Zack Alza and Hunter Gruenstrass.