STRATFORD >> Stratford’s Spencer Bassett and his friends have been playing together since they were youngsters. Off to play travel ball over the past few summers, the circle of friends has not been together much during the summer season.
With one last chance to play together before college, the group has gotten together to form a solid nucleus for Stratford’s American Legion baseball team. That nucleus has found immediate success.
Behind the eight-hit pitching of Bassett, along with his three-run triple, Stratford rolled to a 7-2 victory over East Haven Post 89 Sunday morning at Penders Field. The win allowed Stratford to take two of three this weekend from East Haven and improve to 6-2.
“We have gotten a lot of the old high school guys to play one more time,” Bassett said. “We have played since we were 10 or 11. We wanted to come back and play Legion.”
Stratford made the most of its opportunities early against East Haven pitcher Antonio Cancel, scoring three times in the first inning and adding four more in the second to take a commanding 7-0 lead. The rest was up to Bassett, who mixed a knuckleball, fastball and change to keep East Haven off stride throughout the game.
“I used my knuckleball more,” Bassett said after striking out two and walking three. “I was going fastball, knuckle, change. I mixed it in. It was good to use it.”
Stratford took a 3-0 lead in the first off Cancel as Cameron Belliveau singled, stole second and scored on a single by Jack Duffy. After Shawn Blake walked and Bassett sacrificed both into scoring position, a wild pitch scored Duffy and a grounder to second by Sam Breiner scored Blake for a 3-0 edge.
“Every guy squares the ball up,” Stratford coach Mike DellaVecchia said. “We can hit from top to bottom. We are deep there as well.”
After East Haven’s Matt Wynne was stranded on third after a mammoth triple in the top of the second, Stratford put the game away with four more runs in the second.
Darek Wojenski singled to open the inning, Kevin Bortnick walked and Joe Marsan’s bunt attempt went for a single to load the bases. Duffy picked up a one-out singe to score Wojenski and Barrett followed with a long triple to right to clear the bases for a 7-0 lead.
“I’m not usually a fast runner,” Barrett said with a laugh regarding the triple. “It helps with the turf. We got some big hits today.”
East Haven (5-3) had its share of opportunities, but didn’t capitalize until the fourth inning. Bryon Kucharski hit a one-out double in the fourth, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an error.
The 89ers got as close as 7-2 in the fifth when Chris Affinito walked and scored on Kucharski’s double to right. The inning ended on the same play when Kucharski over ran second and was tagged out.
“The first two innings set the tone,” East Haven coach Joe Pelliccia said. “We hit some balls good, but they were right at them. Plus, they hit the ball hard today.
“Five and three is a good start for us. We always want to be better. The zone is very competitive. Stratford is very good and you have Branford and Orange. It will be very competitive. I do not see anyone running away with it.”
East Haven had one last threat in the sixth as Joe Criscuolo singled and Peter Grippo walked, but Wynne’s hard hit ball was snared by Duffy at third and turned into a double play.
“I am really excited,” DellaVecchia said. “These kids really want to play. They swing the bats pretty well and they like each other. The character says a lot. I couldn’t be happier.”
Duffy and Bassett led Stratford with two hits apiece, with Bassett knocking in three runs and Duffy delivering two. Kucharski and Affinito each had a pair of hits for East Haven in the loss.