WEST HAVEN >> After West Haven pitcher Nick Price showed signs of tiring at the midseason point, coach Mike Anquillare decided to shut him down for a week. On Friday, a well-rested Price stepped back on the mound, and it didn’t take him long to get comfortable.
“It felt like home,” Price said.
Price kept North Haven off the scoreboard and tossed a complete-game shutout in a 6-0 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision victory at Whitey Piurek Field.
“That’s what you expect from seniors,” Anquillare said. “He stepped up.”
With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 8-9 and clinched a spot in the state playoffs. The Westies entered the week needing two wins to clinch a berth, but lost on Monday to Fairfield Prep and on Tuesday to Hand. However, Wednesday’s victory over Cheshire changed everything.
“I saw a little bit of confidence start to come up, little by little,” Anquillare said. “We brought it right into this game.”
Meanwhile, the Indians have lost seven of 10 games to drop to 6-11. North Haven closes the season with Notre Dame-West Haven, Xavier and Shelton, needing two more wins to clinch their own spot.
The Indians will need to avoid the big inning, something they did not do against West Haven. North Haven gave up five runs in the first inning, with an error and passed ball not helping matters.
“Seems like that’s a consistent thing we’ve been doing throughout the year,” said North Haven coach Muchie Dagliere. “Having one bad inning in the game and it dictates the rest of the game.”
West Haven capitalized as Ricky Balzano had an RBI single to score Joe Sette and then Gary Donovan drove in Matt Carter and Jake Kelly with a double. Balzano scored on the error and Mike Savino scored on the passed ball.
Price was steady the rest of the way. He got out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the third, and after giving up a leadoff single to Richie DePalma in the fourth, Price did not allow another hit.
“I got comfortable in the second inning and then they started hitting it,” Price said. “So then I started bringing back the fire.”
The Blue Devils look to finish strong with Career, Platt Tech and Hand left on the schedule.
“Everyone’s doing their job and it shows on the field,” Price said.
And the Indians are trying to keep the mood light as they attempt to clinch a state playoff spot.
“Everyday I remind these guys it’s a game and you’ve got to have fun. Ignore the score.” Dagliere said. “You can’t deny that these kids are playing hard. They’re working their tails off.”