Darien-New Canaan squander opportunities in loss to Westport

By Eliot Schickler

The Westport Senior Legion baseball team ended its seven-game losing streak Thursday with a 2-1 home victory over Darien-New Canaan.

Westport raised its record to 2-8 and coincidentally, its other win was also a 2-1 home verdict over Darien (2-9) at Staples High. In its first win over Darien, Westport pulled out the victory in extra innings. All three runs in the rematch were scored in the first inning.

Darien right-hander Peter Meadows and Westport lefthander Chris Speer shut down the opposition after the first inning, and right-hander Ryder Chasin turned in a command performance in relief of Speer. Meadows allowed only four hits, none after the second inning, walked one and struck out five. Both runs Meadows allowed were unearned, and he hit three batters.

Speer allowed one run on four hits, walked two and struck out 11. Chasin allowed a hit, walked one and struck out five in two innings.

"I had my stuff working today, which was helpful, and I threw at both sides of the plate, which I'm working on," Speer said.

Chasin said, "I'm more than happy. It's my first good game pitching in senior legion. Catcher Doug Bonenfant called a great game, and my curveball was working."

Thomas Carruthers led off the game for Darien with a single to left and took second on an error. Carruthers eventually scored on Matt Sammarco's sacrifice fly.

Alex Ludel hit a single in the bottom of the first and advanced to third on Matt Smith's two-out single. Smith entered the game hitting .433 and dealt with inside pitches. He was hit in the bottom of the third and struck out in the fifth to finish 1-2.

"I got hit once, and he pitched inside to me, which is the name of the game," Smith said. "I look for the high pitch. I got him in the first inning, and he got me in the fifth."

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Ludel scored when Frank Vartuli reached on Carruthers' error at shortstop, and Julian Clarke plated Smith for what turned out to be the game-winning run, with a double to right-center.

"It was in the first inning, and I did not know it would turn out to be the game-winning hit at the time," Clarke said. "I was happy because it was our second win against Darien, and it was our second win of the season. We have to beat other teams."

Spencer Carr led off the bottom of the second with a single for Westport. Anthony Amaru followed with a walk, but Meadows was lights out after that except for the three hit batsmen in the latter innings.

Ludel was hit to lead off the fifth. Westport then attempted a hit and run and James Frusciante lined a bullet, but third baseman Mike Stovall snagged it to rub Frusciante of hit. Stovall then threw it to first baseman Andrew Maley to complete the double play.

Darien mounted threats in the third and fourth innings. Speer walked Kevin Love to lead off the inning, and Carruthers and Tommy Forese hit back-to-back singles with one out to load the bases. However, Darien's station-to-station running proved costly.

Sammarco hit a fly ball to Smith in right, which he caught. Smith held Love on third to preserve the lead. Speer then struck out Stovall swinging to escape the inning unscathed.

In the top of the fourth, Carl Stowell led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch. Speer bounced back to strike out Tom Farren swinging. Stowell took third on a wild pitch, but Speer bounced back to strike out Maley and Love to escape the inning unscathed.

"I gave up a couple of walks [and wild pitches], and I'm not happy about it," Speer said. "I just threw strikes when I had too, and when I had the opportunity, I threw them off-speed stuff."

Darien coach John Miceli said, "The other pitcher pitched well and kept us off-balance. We didn't get the key hits. Their pitcher bore down when he needed too."

Stovall singled and stole second in the sixth off Chasin and Farren walked with two outs, but Chasen had the upper hand with three strikeouts in the inning, one looking.