Fitch doubles up Darien, 4-2, in baseball season-opener
The Fitch Falcons defeated the Darien Blue Wave 4-2 in the baseball season opener on Saturday in Darien.
Darien got on the board first in the first inning. After Henry Williams lined a two-out single to center field, Harry Rayhill doubled to center to bring home Williams and put the Wave up 1-0.
The Falcons tied the game in the second inning and took the lead for good in the fifth as the Wave fell by two.
“It’s the first game,” said Darien head coach Mike Scott. “We made a couple first game mistakes. Things that we will correct and get right for the next one,” said Scott.
The Falcons were led by Giovanni Valentine offensively (3-for-4, 2 RBIs and a run scored) and Thomas Taber on the mound (7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts).
“He (Taber) is not a hard thrower but he got outs,” said Fitch head coach Brian McGugan. “He’s not overpowering, he’s a pitcher though. He worked the corners. He worked his off-speed. He worked inside when he had to. He got the job done.”
McGugan, who picked of his first win as a varsity head coach, credits his team for the victory.
“Obviously, I give all the credit to these guys for just stepping up with the bats. Just mentally being ready,” said McGugan.
“Our offense was in a lull from basically the first inning to the last inning. We really didn’t have many chances,” said Darien head coach Mike Scott, whose team left five men on base for the game. “Their pitcher did a nice job but I think we let him off the hook a little bit.”
Fitch got the run back in the top of the second. Tyler Nelli singled to center to lead off the inning. He then stole second base. After a strikeout, a groundout to second moved Nelli to third. He then came in to score on a wild pitch to tie the game at one.
Henry Williams, despite taking the loss, was strong on the mound for the Blue Wave. In 4.2 innings he allowed two runs on five hits while striking out 10 and walking one.
“He was great,” Scott said. “He was challenging the hitters. They got a couple seeing-eye hits, one which wound up biting us a little bit. For his first outing, he kept us right in it to give the offense a chance.”
The Falcons took the lead in the fifth and never looked back. After Williams struck out the first two batters, Taber and Manish Rane-Castrodad each signed to put runners on the corners. A walk by Tyler Cady loaded the bases. Valentine singled to right to bring home Taber.
That would be the end of the day for Williams on the mound as Jackson Vaught would come out of the bullpen and get out of the jam without further damage.
The Blue Wave put two runners on with two outs in the sixth but couldn’t get the tying run across the plate.
“We made the plays when we had to and got out of some tough jams,” said McGugan.
In the top of the seventh, Fitch tacked on to their lead. Rane-Castrodad singled to lead off the inning. Two batters later he came in to score on Valentine’s RBI double off the wall in left field.
“That was huge. Valentine came up big all day,” said McGugan.
Valentine would then go to third on a wild pitch and come in to score on a pickoff throw from the catcher that went down the left field line to but the Falcons up 4-1.
Darien tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh. Justin Van de Graaf and Arthur Xanthos each singled and Nick Conte hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Van de Graaf to cut the deficit to 4-2. The Blue Wave could get no closer as a Taber induced a pop up to end the game.
“In the end there they got some baserunners on and got the bats going a little bit. We expected them to make contact but we made plays,” said McGugan.
Darien was without senior catcher Sean O’Malley, who was dealing with a hamstring injury that occurred in the preseason.
“We can’t wait to get him back in the lineup. At the same time we have to go with what we’ve got. He’s one of the best hitters in league. Obviously it will be an advantage when we get him back,” said Scott. “At the same time we have a good enough team here to be better than we were today.”
The Blue Wave will be back in action when they host New Fairfield on Tuesday at 4:15.
“Overall the game was well played. We had two miscues which cost us. Things that are correctable,” said Scott. “They took advantage for two runs and that was the difference today.”