NEW CANAAN -- It looked like the New Canaan Rams had things under control after a five-run first inning on Monday.

The Danbury Hatters had other ideas, though, as they battled back to within a run. In the end, the Rams were able to hold on for a slim 5-4 victory in a key FCIAC matchup at Orchard Field in New Canaan.

Strong pitching performances by both sides led to three at-bats for each team in which the batting order was retired 1-2-3.

New Canaan junior Ali Reilly was particularly strong on the mound, notching 12 strikeouts. Her counterpart, Danbury senior Kara Orr, was equally impressive, throwing five shutout innings. Each pitcher matched the other in giving up nine hits and one walk.

"I am disappointed that we gave up five runs in the first inning," Danbury coach Harry Trohalis said. "We're usually a pretty good defensive team, and I didn't mind losing, I just didn't like the way we gave away the first."

Back to back doubles by New Canaan's Cydney Ventura and Courtney Rogers keyed the five-run first frame for the Rams. Costly errors by the Hatters combined with a seven-hit barrage in the inning were all New Canaan needed to seal the deal.

After that, Orr found her groove and had little trouble silencing the Rams' offense. For the remainder of the game, only two New Canaan runners would make it on base. In the fourth inning, it took her only six pitches to retire the side.

"I think they were a little over anxious; they weren't going deep in the count," New Canaan coach Danielle Simoneau said of her team's performance at the plate after the first. "We need to be more selective and make their pitcher work as hard as our pitcher worked."

The Hatters chipped away at New Canaan's lead by scoring single runs in the first, third, and sixth innings. Then, in the seventh inning things got interesting.

"A bit too interesting," Rogers said.

In the top of the seventh, the Hatters' Whitney Dyer got the party started by pulling a leadoff triple to right field. Kristy Trotta then drew Danbury's first walk of the game. Up next, Orr went down on strikes.

With two runners on and one out, Noelle Daly connected for a single to bring home Dyer. After Dyer stole second, the Hatters were knocking on the door with two runners in scoring position and only one out. Reilly recovered to strike out the next two batters to seal the victory.

"I was a little nervous (in the seventh) but I think it is important to keep your composure," Reilly said. "We all stood our ground and did what we could to get it done."

Trohalis was impressed.

"(Reilly) just blew it by us and was clutch when she had to be," he said.

"Danbury is an excellent hitting team, and Ali did well," Simoneau said. "She has great movement on the ball."

New Canaan co-captain Courtney Rogers said the win is a big morale boost for her team.

"We had a strong start to the season and then some bumps in the road, so this is going to give us some good positive energy," Rogers said. "Everybody hit, everybody swung the bat, no one took third strike pitches. It was an improvement," Rogers said.

New Canaan 5, Danbury 4

Danbury: 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 - 4

New Canaan: 5 0 0 0 0 0 X - 5

Records: New Canaan 5-2, 4-1 FCIAC, Danbury 5-1, 4-1 FCIAC

Batteries: NC: Ali Reilly and Jordan Ventura; Danbury: Kara Orr and M. Jones. Doubles: NC--Rogers, C. Ventura; Danbury -- Trotta. Triples: Danbury -- Dyer.

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