Jordan and Darien baseball blank NFA Wildcats, 1-0
It still doesn’t feel like April, and the steady wind made conditions feel even colder for the Darien baseball team’s annual match-up with Norwich Free Academy. Even with the chill in the air, however, it was really pitcher Justin Jordan who kept the NFA bats on ice.
Jordan fired darts for five innings and made the Wave’s one run in the fifth hold up, as Darien edged the NFA Wildcats, 1-0, Thursday at DHS. The Wave senior co-captain struck out six, walked none, and allowed just one single en route to the victory.
“It was a little cold out here, so I had to put my long sleeves on to start, but I just threw it over the plate,” Jordan said, “I had my defense behind me and that’s really all I could ask for today.”
“He was spectacular,” head coach Mike Scott said. “It was what we count on him to do: Come in, throw strikes, keep the ball down, and let the defense works. Today, he had those guys reaching, out in front and he was just awesome today.”
Darien’s, and the game’s, only run came in the bottom of the fifth, when Henry Williams singled home pinch-runner Nicky Briganti.
The win evened Darien’s record at 1-1 after a 4-2 loss to Fitch in the opener last Saturday, while NFA was playing its first game of the season.
Neither team was able to collect many hits, as NFA had one hit against Jordan and reliever Henry Williams, and the Wave had just four against Wildcats’ starter Tyler Briggs, who will play for UConn next year, and two relievers.
Jordan got through five innings unscathed, and with no threats to speak of. In the second, he hit the leadoff hitter, but the Wildcats’ Ryan King hit a line drive at Darien first baseman Harry Rayhill, who turned it into an unassisted double play.
Jordan then struck out the side in the third and retired the Wildcats in order in the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, King led off and dropped a single down the line in right for NFA’s only hit, but Jordan retired the next three hitters on a strikeout and two grounders.
Briggs pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out six, but the Blue Wave hitters worked his pitch count well, and drew five walks, knocking him out after four frames.
“We ran up against a good one,” Scott said of Briggs. “He was a hard thrower on a windy day, which isn’t a very good combination as a hitter. That kid was good, so our approach was to try and make him work, run his pitch count up a little bit, get some guys on base and hopefully make the most of an opportunity. We didn’t get it done versus him, but the next guy, we figured out a way to break through.”
The scoreless duel helped Jordan stay on point.
“I usually stay focused, but that puts a little more fire under my butt,” Jordan said. “I needed to keep going out there and pounding the zone. Then I let my defense go to work and they were great today.”
Facing lefty reliever Grafton Angevine, Wave catcher Arthur Xanthos led off Darien’s half of the fifth with a walk and was replaced on the basepaths by Briganti. Jordan followed with another walk and the two runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Mac McLean.
Williams then lined a 1-2 pitch the opposite way to right, plating Briganti for a 1-0 lead.
“That was clutch,” Scott said. “It was exactly what we needed at that point. You come up in that situation with runners on base in a 0-0 ballgame, somebody’s got to come through. He’s our No. 3 hitter right now, and he stepped up and delivered for us.”
Angevine escaped with two strikeouts, but the damage was done.
Williams came on in relief and retired six straight batters, including three via strikeout, to get the save.
“He was amazing,” Jordan said of Williams. “It’s nice to have someone behind you like that who’s able to shut them down.”
It was a solid performance, especially since the Wave has had a disjointed week due to the weather. They played their opener last Saturday, but had postponements throughout this week and at one point couldn’t even get onto their field for practice.
Thursday’s win hopefully puts things back on track.
“It’s been a challenge,” Scott said. “We’ve been stuck inside and we don’t normally go inside but with snow on the field, we couldn’t get out here. We got a couple of extra swings in the cages and then yesterday, we were able to get out here later on in the afternoon. We’re just trying to keep them focused. I’m proud of the way they responded today.”