Darien's Williams fires two-hit shutout at New Canaan in rivalry baseball game
NEW CANAAN — If hitting is your cup of tea in baseball, New Canaan’s Mead Park was not the place to be on Friday afternoon.
Darien’s Henry Williams and New Canaan’s Frank Ramppen put on a show, with Williams out-dueling his pitching counterpart with a two-hit shutout as the Blue Wave scored a 1-0 victory in the latest rivalry game.
The final out was one of the hardest hit balls off of Williams, as New Canaan’s Zack Ramppen hit a shot in the right-center gap with a runner on first base. The ball was run down by Darien’s Aaron Sears, briefly popping out of the glove before Sears finally put it away to end the game.
Being in a pitchers’ duel pushed Williams to one of his best performances of the season.
“It makes you go out there every inning and compete, knowing that one mistake and you’re losing the game,” Williams said. “Even on that last pitch, if he gets a little more barrel on that, the game’s over and they’re winning 2-1. I love the pitchers’ duel and I loved the energy from both teams today.”
“It was a good back-and-forth,” Darien head coach Mike Scott said. “Henry was just dominant today. He was mixing his pitches, "hitting his spots, and really challenging those guys. He got a lot of swings and misses, and the defense was ready to make plays behind him.”
While Darien improved to 10-5 overall and 9-3 in the FCIAC, New Canaan fell to 5-11 for the season and had its state playoff chances take a hit. Still, as a team which started 2-8 and has now split its last six games, the Rams have been playing solid baseball.
“We faced a Division I pitcher today and lost 1-0,” New Canaan head coach Anthony Bloss said. “You just have to tip your cap. But I’m super proud of them today. We’ve been stressing that you leave everything out on the field. You give everything you have and that’s all we can ask for.”
Both hits Williams allowed were doubles — first to Jack DeFrancesco in the second and then to Jack Lisecky leading off the third. After that second hit, Williams retired the next 14 hitters. He issued no walks and struck out 13, and the defense was perfect behind him.
“A lot of pitching is just trusting the defense, because if you don’t trust them, you’re not going to trust your spots,” Williams said. “I wanted New Canaan to hit the ball to my defense and lower the pitch count. I trust my defense.”
The only run scored after Mac McLean blasted a triple to deep centerfield leading off the top of the fourth. Two batters later, McLaughlin hit a sacrifice fly to right.
“We took a chance to send him to third with no outs and luckily we snuck him in there,” Scott said. “Then Liam delivered with a nice at-bat and a sac fly. It’s just execution right there. You’ve got to find a way to get the run in and Liam put a good swing on the ball and got the job done.”
For the Rams, Frank Ramppen allowed only four hits while walking one and striking out three. He fielded his position brilliantly, starting three double plays.
In the top of the fifth, Glen Fay singled and Ben Olson doubled to put two on with one out for Darien. The Rams gave James Louis a free pass to load the bases, and Alec Stephens chopped the next pitch back to Frank Ramppen, who started a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
In the sixth, McLean reached on an error and Williams doubled, but McLaughlin hit a line drive at Frank Ramppen, who gloved the ball and threw to third to double off McLean.
“He’s extremely athletic,” Bloss said of Ramppen. “He’s a baseball player and he’s very, very comfortable on the field and that’s evident in how he played today. He fields the position well and he’s a tremendous defensive outfielder as well.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Henry Williams, Darien: The Duke-bound senior lived up to the ace billing with a two-hit shutout and 13 strikeouts. After allowing a double to leadoff the third, Williams retired the next 14 batters.
“Regardless of what they’re doing or what we’re doing, it’s Darien-New Canaan and it’s always a good game like this. Last year, we played a 3-2 game and the year before they won on an 11-10 walkoff. It’s always fun and having the opportunity to pitch against them as a senior is awesome.” — Darien’s Henry Williams
DARIEN 1, NEW CANAAN 0
Darien 000 100 0 — 1 3 0
New Canaan 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Batteries: Darien: Henry Williams (W) and Ben Olson; New Canaan: Frank Ramppen (L) and Zack Ramppen
Highlights: Darien: Henry Williams pitched a two-hit shutout, walked none and struck out 13; Mac McLean was 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored; Liam McLaughlin drove in the game’s only run with a sac fly; New Canaan: Frank Ramppen pitched a complete game, allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out three; Jack DeFrancesco and Jack Lisecky each doubled.
Records: Darien 10-5 overall, 9-3 FCIAC; New Canaan 5-11, 4-8