Through five innings and a 30-minute storm delay, pitching and defense ruled a scoreless Junior Legion contest at Mead Park Wednesday between top-place teams Darien-New Canaan and Wilton.
Post-delay, it was the exact same story--with one glaring exception.
In the top of the sixth inning, Wilton's Michael Tienken delivered an RBI double to center and simultaneously a 1-0 win for his team, which claimed the first two games of a mid-week set. Wilton starter Collin Kahal pitched six strong innings, scattering six hits as he piled up five strikeouts. Darien's John Ruth knocked three singles and was caught stealing to end the ballgame.
Wilton (14-7) will go for the series sweep today at 7 p.m. outside Wilton High School.
"We hit the ball really hard today. We just hit the ball at people," Darien-New Canaan coach Michael Patrona said. "(I) definitely feel like we hit the ball a lot harder than Wilton did, but they made the plays."
Through the first three innings, Darien-New Canaan (12-7) collected five of the game's six hits, but couldn't score due to some exemplary defense and a self-inflicted baserunning blunder with no outs. Following a first-inning Tyler Grant single to center, Darien-New Canaan leadoff hitter Jack O'Neill came racing around third and got cut down on a perfect relay throw from first baseman Jack Mastrianna. Two innings later, Ruth was nabbed in his retreat back towards second base after he had rounded the bag too far, moved over by a Joe Bonsanti single.
Then, Darien-New Canaan only mustered a single hit in the next two frames, a Ruth infield single that ricocheted off Kahal, who had settled in despite early trouble.
"Once he started getting his curveball over for a strike, we had a much more difficult time," Patrona said. "First three innings, we were hitting him really, really hard."
As Kahal began closing the door, Wilton came alive in the away half of the fourth, loading the bases with one out. Darien-New Canaan starter Charlie Sealy had allowed Mastrianna a free pass to open the inning, before surrendering back-to-back singles to the bottom of the Wilton order. However, he managed to escape unscathed via a strikeout and harmless popout to first.
Catcher Liam Gallagher next threw Sealy a line in the top of the fifth by nailing his second Wilton baserunner of the day. One caught flyball later, the game was delayed for a half-hour due to nearby thunder and lighting.
Once play resumed, Darien-New Canaan failed to move runners over against Kahal and closer Kiernan Ursone, while Tienken put Wilton ahead for good.
"We need timely hits. When we get those timely hits, we win. And when we don't, we lose. That's basically it," Patrona said. "We get people on base all the time. It's just a matter of getting them in."
Twelve of the game's 13 recorded hits were singles. With the win, Wilton now stands a full game ahead of Darien-New Canaan in the standings and 4.5 back of league leader Trumbull.