NEW CANAAN -- After seeing its six-game winning streak snapped by Ridgefield on Friday, the New Canaan baseball team bounced back to edge Trinity Catholic 2-1 on a rainy Monday afternoon at Mead Park.
For the Rams, which have had no trouble scoring runs, it was nice to know that they can grind out a low-scoring victory by playing some small ball while relying on pitching and defense.
"It's nice to grind one out and use a bunch of guys. We used a lot of our bench to piece it together," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "It's nice to get this feeling in because when we get into the tournament, you're going to have to know and understand this feeling."
JR Anderson picked up the victory for New Canaan by tossing five-and-a-third innings of one-run, five-hit ball while striking out four and walking four. With his team protecting a 2-1 lead, Anderson was lifted in favor of centerfielder Andrew Casali with one man out and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth.
Casali got out of the sixth by striking out the first batter he faced and educing a groundout to second baseman Brandon Abate.
"Mitch had me start throwing a little, just getting my arm loose. I had a feeling that if JR got in any sort of trouble, I'd be the first person called upon," Casali said. "Obviously, we don't want to make games close like this when they don't need to be, but knowing that we can win a low-scoring game like this is good to know."
Leading off the top of the seventh for Trinity with his team down 2-1, Matt Kashian drew a leadoff walk. Up next, Trinity's Matt Christensen dropped down a bunt, but Casali picked it up and fired to second to get the leadoff man.
"When it's a bunting situation, we need to get those bunts down. When we do get guys in scoring position, we need to find a way to get a run in," Trinity coach Tracy Nichols said. "When you're in a game like this, you're not going to get guys in scoring position often, but when you do, you've got to be able to take advantage of that."
Polonia then flew out to right field, Christensen stole second base to get into scoring position with two outs and Casali got a groundout to second base to slam the door and notch the save.
"I knew it was going to be tight. Polonia is one of the best pitchers in the whole FCIAC. He mixes well and I told our kids it's going to be tough," Hoffman said. "We left too many runners on base, which is uncharacteristic for us, but with a good pitcher like that, it's going to happen."
Trinity stayed within striking distance largely thanks to sophomore pitcher Randy Polonia, who logged six innings of two-run ball, while giving up five hits, striking out six, walking three and hitting a batter.
The Rams, known for their large offensive outputs, instead used some small ball to take an early lead, plating a run in the second and one in the third.
In the second, Erik Jager drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on Nick Cascione's sacrifice bunt. Henry Lavieri and Grady Amrhein walked and singled, respectively, to load the bases with only one out. Next up, Alex LaPolice hit a hard ground ball to second base. The Crusaders got the out at second, but LaPolice beat the return throw to first for the 1-0 lead.
In the third, Matt Toth led off with an opposite-field single. Casali smacked a line drive single to right-center and advanced to second on Trinity's throw to third. Next up, Brian Moran hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Toth. Erik Jager walked and stole second, but Polonia struck out the next two New Canaan batters.
Trinity closed to within 2-1 on Matt Kashian's RBI single in the top of the fifth.
NEW CANAAN 2, TRINITY CATHOLIC 1
TRINITY CATHOLIC.............. 000 010 0--1 5 0
NEW CANAAN......................011 000 X--2 5 0
Records: Trinity Catholic 3-9, 3-8 FCIAC; New Canaan 11-2, 10-2 FCIAC. Batteries: TC--Randy Polonia (L), and Jackson Solis; NC--JR Anderson (W), Andy Casali (S) and Casey Oullette. Highlights: TC--Polonia threw a complete game and struck out six, Matt Kashian had an RBI single and a walk. NC--Anderson threw five-and-a-third innings and struck out four to get the win. Andy Casali got the save and notched a pair of singles.
and a hit by pitch. Grady Amrhein went two-for-three.