MIDDLETOWN >> Pitching and defense wins a lot of games.
So it was Monday evening as Rocky Hill’s Jess Greenspan, with a big assist from her defense, outdueled Middletown’s Sam Pizzonia, 2-0, in a Central Connecticut Conference South Division game at the Moody School’s Ray Jacobs Field.
“That was one of my pitcher’s best games of the season,” Rocky Hill coach Tyler Catlin said. “She hit her spots all game and we played great defense behind her.”
The best play of the game came in the seventh inning when center fielder Julie Sevingny made an over-the-shoulder, back-to-the-plate catch of Rachel Thompson’s drive. Rocky Hill catcher Arianna Genovese also made two on-the-money throws to nail Middletown runners attempting to steal to end MHS threats in the fourth and fifth.
Middletown also played solid defense behind Pizzonia, but the story of the game was a simple one. Rocky Hill got three leadoff hitters on and two of them scored, while Middletown got three leadoff hitters on and could do nothing with them.
“The other night [against Coginchaug] we got clutch hits,” Middletown coach Scott Ahlers said. “Tonight we couldn’t get the big hit. Pizzonia did a great job holding that team to just two runs, but we lost because of missed opportunities.”
Rocky Hill (17-1) got the leadoff hitter — Greenspan — on with a single in the first and she eventually scored on Riley Pickett’s (2-for-3) base hit. The Terriers built their lead to 2-0 in the fourth on a leadoff single by Britany Moore, a hit batter, a double steal and a sacrifice fly to center by Julie Sevigny.
Middletown, which outhit Rocky Hill 7-5, got leadoff hitter Kelsey White (2-for-3) on with a base hit in the second inning, but she stayed at first as the Blue Dragons couldn’t get the bunt down to move her up.
After missing the bunt try, Domiqiue Highsmith struck out and Greenspan got the next two hitters.
It was the same story in the third. Shannon Noetzel opened with single, but this time Maddy Connelly didn’t get the bunt down and fanned. Alex Giardina 2-for-3) followed with a base hit, but the next two hitters made out.
The Dragons ran that tape again in the fourth when White opened with a hit. She moved to second on an infield out.
With two out, Thompson got an infield single when her little pop fly ticked off the glove of diving third baseman Pickett for a hit. But Ahlers had Thompson attempt a steal on the first pitch and she was an easy out.
Giardina got a two-out single in the fifth — Middletown had runners on in every inning except the first and seventh — but she was also an easy out attempting to steal.
“I thought the MIddletown pitcher pitched a much better game than when we first saw her,” Catlin said. “She had a great changeup and she is really a very good player.”
Pizzonia struck out five and walked three. Greenspan fanned five and didn’t walk a batter. There were no errors in the game.
The upcoming state tournament was on both coaches’ minds.
“We are just taking it one day at time,” Catlin said. “We have Newington next [Thursday], then we get ready for the state [Class M] tournament.”
Ahlers thought about the missed bunts and said, “That gives us something to work on as we prepare for the state [Class LL] tournament.”
Middletown (13-6) winds up its regular season at New Britain this evening at 7 at Martha Hart Park. The Dragons will likely host a first round tournament game next week.