NEW CANAAN -- Wednesday afternoon was a far cry from the Rams usual formula of success, but New Canaan couldn't be any more pleased with the effort.

The No. 10 Rams jumped out to an eight-run lead through two innings against 23rd-seeded Stratford before putting it in cruise control, eventually winning 11-2 in the first round of the Class L state playoffs.

"It was great, I got to relax a little bit," said Rams coach Mitch Hoffman, who has sweat out many a late-inning rally this season. "It was a lot better to play like we did today and chill out a little bit as opposed to what's gone on in the past."

New Canaan will now hit the road Thursday to face No. 7 Windsor, a 5-0 winner over Guilford.

"Windsor is a very good baseball team, and there's a lot of intangibles" Hoffman said. "We have to get on a bus and go two hours, there's a lot of things that can creep up on you."

The Rams, however, will have the services ace David Giusti, who started Wednesday's contest and struck out five, but was pulled after just two innings of work with his team well ahead.

Following Giusti's exit sophomore Mike Pelli came in and worked three innings, allowing one unearned run to keep his team comfortably in front.

"The pressure was off because we went up 8-0," said Pelli, a sophomore. "Coach told me to just go throw strikes and that's what I did."

First baseman Robby Jones helped Pelli's cause in the bottom of the fifth when he crushed a three-run homer to right-center field.

"His approach the first two at bats weren't great but he's been hitting the ball hard coming into today," Hoffman said of Jones. "So we told him see the ball deep and swing like you know how--and he obviously did."

For Stratford, which finishes the season at 10-10, this year was a building block in what coach Mickey Buckmir hopes will be an eventual culture of success at his school. The Red Devils won one SWC playoff game before being eliminated by New Canaan.

"We improved a little over last year, we're going through a little growing pains as a program but I'm determined to take us to the next level," Buckmir said. "I would call our season a success because we made the SWCs and made the states."

Hoffman is hopeful his team's 11-run, 14-hit effort carries over to Thursday where he will again have the luxury of putting his ace on the mound.

"We have to play our game," Hedburg said. "If we can rattle off half the amount of hits we had today and give David a few runs I think we have a good chance; but baseball's a funny game."

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

New Canaan 11, Stratford 2

STRATFORD 000 100 1--2 5 2

NEW CANAAN 530 030 X--11 14 2

Batteries: S--Tom Leveen (4.1 L), Matt Canapetti and Sam Breiner; NC--David Giusti (2), Mike Pelli (3,W), Nicholas Woodard and Zachary Smith. Highlights: S--Connor Antsis and Richard Starkey scored runs for the Red Devils. NC--Mike Pelli pitched three innings of relief, picking up the win and only allowing one earned run. Robby Jones hit a three-run homer in the fifth.