NEW CANAAN -- With most of the preseason talk focusing on Danbury's standout pitcher Corey Brosz, it has been the Hatters other pitcher -- George Bielizna -- who has carried the Hatters on his large shoulders.
Brosz started and won the game against New Canaan Friday at Mead Park, but it was Bielizna pitching the sixth and seventh against the heart of the Rams lineup, picking up the save with two clean frames and giving the Hatters a 5-4 come-from behind victory.
Bielizna's success against the Rams should come as no surprise -- the senior right-hander has not allowed an earned run in 27 innings of work this season following Friday's impressive outing.
Bielizna, who stands well over six-feet tall, was excited to face a team he feels has one of the best lineups in the FCIAC.
"We have just been hyped all season to play another FCIAC contender. We always play close games with them and it's just fun," said Bielizna, who mixes his pitches well, relying mostly on a fastball and curveball. "I know my team is going to help me out in the field so balls on the ground and especially up in the air I know they'll make the plays. Our outfield is just so reliable. I was just trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down."
Trailing 4-3, Danbury (7-4, 5-4 FCIAC) scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning, putting them ahead for good.
Bielizna was even more pleased with how he swung the bat, connecting on a two-run double in the first inning to put the Hatters on the board early.
"I have been working with Coach Ratchford and Coach Reed and we have been cranking the machine up in the cage," Bielizna said. "I have been working on using my hips more and today was a break out game for me because I only have like two hits this year. It was ridiculously big to score early and was the best thing to do when you are on the road."
Heriberto Rodriguez followed up the double with a triple to left centerfield, giving Danbury a 3-0 lead after half an inning.
Seeing the bats get hot early was a welcome sight for Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford, whose team has struggled making contact the last few games.
The Hatters forgot their batting helmets on the bus and had to wear New Canaan's to start the game, leading Ratchford to jokingly say it may have given his team a boost.
"What I liked the most was the first inning. Maybe it was putting on their helmets, but we swung the bat after two games of not swinging," Ratchford said. "We had less than 25 swings in the last game. The nice thing was we swung the bats early which gave the kids a chance to relax. Then we were able to come back, chipping away against a very good team."
New Canaan (8-3, 6-3) scored twice off Brosz in the first inning on a two-RBI single to left by Matt Toth.
The Rams then scored single runs in the third and fourth, taking a 4-3 lead.
New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said the Hatters were able to get a few more balls to drop than his team, but was pleased with how aggressive and successful they were against Brosz.
The Rams picked up nine hits against one of the FCIAC's best arms, something Hoffman will take any day.
"Danbury is always solid but I think a few balls didn't bounce our way," Hoffman said. "We hit. Our approach was great today but a few balls bounced their way as opposed to our way but that's the game of baseball. We chalk this up as a learning experience for the playoffs. I think we battled well and we will go from here."
New Canaan got a runner to third with two outs in the sixth but could not bring him home. The Rams got the leadoff batter on in the seventh before the Hatters turned a 4-6-3 double play to quell the threat.
Danbury 5, New Canaan 4
DANBURY 300 002 0 -- 5 7 4
NEW CANAAN 201 100 0 -- 4 9 3
Records: D -- 7-4, 5-4 FCIAC; NC -- 8-3, 6-3 FCIAC
Batteries: D -- Corey Brosz (W), George Bielinza (6, S) and Mike Schweitzer; NC -- JR Anderson (L), Dan Rajkowski (6) and Zack Smith
Doubles: D -- Bielinza. Triples: D -- Heriberto Rodriguez