If the St. Joseph baseball team ends up earning a home game for the first round of the FCIAC playoffs, they'll have senior right-hander Nick Williams to thank for it.
That, and some less-than-stellar defense by New Canaan.
Williams out-dueled New Canaan lefty Alex Lapolice and St. Joseph took advantage of a few costly fielding miscues by the Rams to post a 6-3 victory Tuesday afternoon in a game between evenly-matched playoff hopefuls at Shea Field.
Lapolice, New Canaan's starting centerfielder forced to make his second start of the season due to an injury to David Giusti, had a perfect game through three innings. He was helped, ironically enough, by some spectacular defense by shortstop Matt Toth.
But St. Joseph (9-6 overall, 9-4 FCIAC) scored two runs on just one hit and one big error in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead then tacked on four in the fifth on two hits, one walk, one hit batter and two more errors.
New Canaan (11-5, 9-5) responded with three runs in the sixth to pull to within 6-3, but Williams closed the door in the seventh to finish off a solid complete-game victory.
St. Joseph won despite collecting just three hits off Lapolice and reliever Clark Newlove.
"I thought it was a big game. We want to get a home game in the FCIAC playoffs, so I thought this was a must-have game," said St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves, whose team will play its third game in three days Wednesday against Trinity Catholic. "With the standings packed in the way they are, you get a couple losses here and there and you could drop right back to the pack like everyone else."
Williams (4-2), a Union College-bound senior who pitched the Cadets to victory in the Class M state championship last season, kept the game scoreless over the first five innings, matching LaPolice as he was mowing St. Joseph down in order.
Williams allowed just two hits through five innings before giving up three runs on two hits and one error in the sixth.
Williams struck out five and walked two in his 120-pitch effort, working himself out of a few tough jams in the middle innings.
"That was huge because we were definitely not getting good swings out of Lapolice early in the game," Chaves said. "For Nick to be able to match zero for zero with him for that long until we got to him, it was big for the team."
Mike Rotundo walked to lead off the fourth for St. Joseph and Dave Capela followed with a bunt. Lapolice had the out at first, but decided to go to second and threw the ball into centerfield. Both runners ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by catcher Ishmael Herrera and a two-out double by Williams, St. Joseph's first hit of the game.
New Canaan committed two more fielding errors in the fifth after a leadoff double by Jake Amoroso and the Cadets made it hurt, busting the game open on a two-run single by Herrera.
Newlove, recently up from the junior varsity, got the final two outs of the fifth and pitched a perfect sixth for the Rams.
Dan Rajkowski went 2-for-2 with a walk and one run scored while Nick Cascione doubled and scored a run in the sixth for New Canaan, which has now dropped four of its last seven games.
The Rams play at rival Darien on Wednesday in a pivitol game.
"We just haven't been able to string it together," New Canaan coach Micth Hoffman said. "I hope it doesn't get strung together when it's too late. (Wednesday)'s a good day to do something."
St. Joseph 6, New Canaan 3
NEW CANNAN 000 003 0--3 5 3
ST. JOSEPH 000 240 X--6 3 1
Records: NC-11-5 overall, 9-5 FCIAC; SJ-9-6 overall, 9-5 FCIAC.
Batteries: NC-Alex Lapolice (L, 1-1), Clark Newlove and Zack Smith; SJ-Nick Williams (4-2) and Ishmael Herrera.