HAMDEN — Jack Potash admitted he didn’t have much of a curve ball Wednesday, so he had to change speeds all afternoon.
It didn’t matter as the Hopkins junior righthander allowed just one hit and a walk over six innings to lead the Hilltoppers to a 7-0 shutout victory over Hamden Hall in a key Fairchester Athletic Association contest. With the victory, Hopkins gave itself a little more breathing room in the FAA regular season race. The first-place Hilltoppers are now 8-1 in the league, while Hamden Hall fell to 7-3.
“I couldn’t find the curve ball, but I had a lot of faith in my teammates to make the plays,” Potash said. “The fastball was working, and I was locating it, so I stayed with that.”
It was clearly the best start for Potash all spring after coming off a broken thumb he suffered in March.
“He had a slow start and started throwing late,” Hopkins coach Rocco DeMaio said. “He’s only had a few starts and this is the longest he’s gone this year.”
Other than a double by C.J. Kurelias in the fourth inning and a walk by Billy Gioulos, Potash was perfect in his six-inning stint. He retired the first nine batters before Kurelias blasted a double over the head of leftfielder Jordan Shand.
“A kid on my team said you’re throwing a no-hitter,” Potash said. “So I said you jinxed me. They are going to hit a bomb off me next at-bat and that’s exactly what happened.”
Meanwhile, Hopkins was able to get to Hamden Hall sophomore righthander Danny Carbone early. Jack Dove singled, stole second and scored on a Brendan Gollaher single in the top of first inning to make it 1-0.
The Hilltoppers added another in the third inning when singled and went to second on an error. Chris Borter followed with a double up the gap in left center to make it 2-0.
Hopkins continued to hit the ball hard off Carbone in the fourth, but were helped by a key error. Rob Jaques doubled down the left field line and Philip DeLise singled to put runners on the corners to start the inning.
After Potash aided his own cause with a sacrifice fly, Hopkins was able to fill on the bases on walks to Brandon Smith and Collin Gerhardt. It seemed as if Carbone might get out of the inning, but second baseman Joe Liucci muffed a ground ball as two runs scored.
Gollaher added a long homer to leftcenter in the fifth and Smith singled, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to complete the scoring.
“We’re really happy,” DeMaio said. “We’ve been swinging the bats. We had 17 hits Monday against King and so many different guys have stepped up.”
Hamden Hall coach John Slusarz said the Hornet’s performance was disappointing.
“This is a game that’s a rivalry for us,” Slusarz said. “You’d like to see us come out with a little more fight and we came out flat. They hit us with a run early on and we went away from that point on.”
HOPKINS 7, HAMDEN HALL 0
Hamden Hall 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 2
Hopkins 1 0 1 3 1 1 0 — 7 10 0
Batteries: Hamden Hall–Danny Carbone (2-1), Cameron Maldonato (6) and Dennis Gamester; Hopkins–Jack Potash (1-0), Josh Seidner (7) and Brandon Smith
Team records: Hamden Hall (7-3-0); Hopkins (8-1-0)
Comments: Hopkins: Jack Potash allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk in 6 innings pitched and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Jack Dove, 2 singles and scored 2 runs; Brendan Gollaher, RBI single and a solo homer; Rob Jaques, single and a double. Hamden Hall: C.J. Kurelias doubled in the 4th inning for the Hornets’ only hit.