BETHEL — The New Milford High School baseball team likes to follow a simple formula for putting runs on the board: score early, score often.
Of course, it also helps when the pitchers throw a shutout.
The Green Wave certainly scored early Wednesday, and it scored often enough to chalk up a 5-0 non-conference victory over South-West Conference rival Bethel. Tim Cianciolo started on the mound and scattered five hits and two walks over six solid innings, and reliever Connor Gannon tossed a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the victory as the unbeaten Wave improved to 4-0.
“He’s a bulldog,” New Milford coach Ryan Johnson said of Cianciolo, who struck out four. “He goes out there and throws strikes, keeps us in games and gives us opportunities to win. He doesn’t just throw, he actually pitches. He sets guys up with his pitches.”
Jon Luc Dumas had two singles and a walk and drove in two runs to lead the Wave offense, which did all its damage in the first three innings. Austin Swanson and Colin Lindner each drove in a run, Zachary Prahach had two singles and Ben Silver had a double. Speedy leadoff batter Kendall Greene drew two walks. The Wave led 2-0 after one inning.
“We got out in front in the first inning, which allowed me to settle down and get into it,” Cianciolo said.
For Bethel (2-2), Jaxon Millet had two singles, Jack Carraturo singled and walked and Pietro Baia chipped in with a double.
“At one point, I tallied it up, and we gave them 11 free base-runners,” Bethel coach Ray Turek said. “With a lineup like that, you’re asking for trouble. Their pitcher consistently pounded the strike zone, and they made some great plays today.”
New Milford led 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Baia set the table for Bethel with a double to center field with one out. That gave Bethel a golden opportunity to break through, especially with the top of the order coming up. It looked momentarily as if the Wildcats would break through when the next batter up, Tyler Davis launched a deep shot to left field, all the way out by the tennis courts. Greene got a good jump on the ball off the bat and somehow managed to track it down, making a sensational running catch for the second out. He took away at least a run-scoring double away from Davis, who just two days earlier had provided a walk-off, game-winning triple in a victory over Newtown.
“There are not too many people in the state who can run that down like that, and Kendall went and got it,” Johnson said. “That’s a dynamic part of our team to have him lead off and create things on the bases and in the outfield defensively.”
MORE DEFENSIVE GEMS
The Green Wave worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth when Lindner turned a 6-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning.
Bethel second baseman Andy Ridzik ended the sixth inning with a nifty play of his own, making a diving stab of a sharp, one-hop grounder and firing a quick throw to first for the out, taking away what looked like a certain base hit for Lindner.
NEW MILFORD 5, BETHEL 0
NEW MILFORD212 000 0 — 5 7 1
BETHEL000 000 0 — 0 5 3
Records: New Milford 4-0; Bethel 2-2. Batteries: NM—Tim Cianciolo (W), Connor Gannon (7) and Derek Profita; Be—Noah Jensen (L), Stefano DiMeglio (4) and Brian Ridzik.