They say that speed kills.
And for the Darien-New Canaan Junior Legion baseball team, it was speed, by way of one measly passed ball, that ultimately closed the book on its 2014 campaign.
Kyle Dewalt knocked two infield hits and scored once on a misplayed curveball to push first-place Trumbull (24-2) past Darien-New Canaan 1-0 Saturday in each squad's regular season finale. Starting pitcher Charlie Sealy tossed a complete six-inning game and scattered five hits around one strikeout and zero walks. The loss capped Darien-New Canaan's losing streak at 10 games, after it opened the season 12-5.
"We're losing one-run, two-run games and a lot of it is we just can't get a big hit at the right time. And that's what we lacked today," Darien-New Canaan coach Michael Patrona said. "Otherwise, we're playing solid baseball. Wilton, Stamford and Trumbull, who are all tops in our zone, we've played them really hard ... and right down to the wire in the last inning."
Offensively, centerfielder Tyler Grant reached base in his every at-bat, tallying two of Darien-New Canaan's three hits and taking ball four during his final plate appearance. Shortstop Chris Drake, who combined with Grant for back-to-back singles in the first inning, mustered the only other Darien-New Canaan hit of the game. Otherwise, right fielder Zach Dimonekas earned a pair of four-pitch walks.
For the day belonged to Trumbull starter Peter Rousso, who threw seven shutout innings and picked up half a dozen strikeouts.
After putting three batters aboard in the opening two frames, Ruosso settled in nicely, surrendering the same number of baserunners over the remainder of the game. While Sealy went toe-to-toe with his pitching counterpart in nearly every inning, he did fall victim to a one-out Dewalt bunt single in the third. Next, the Trumbull speedster swiped second base, moved over to third on a grounder to the right side and scored moments later when a breaking ball escaped catcher Liam Gallagher.
"We were trying to make (the batter) put the ball in play in a position where we could get the out and not let (Dewalt) score," Sealy said of the fateful pitch. "We didn't want anything to come down to a close play at home. We were trying to get a groundball."
Despite allowing consecutive one-out base hits in the fourth, Sealy kept a lid on the Trumbull offense via a groundball to third and a pop-out back to the mound. However, his efforts only gave way to a 1-2-3 inning from the Darien-New Canaan bats in the fifth. Then, when Dewalt was declared safe on another infield hit and stole his second bag during the home half of the inning, Sealy went back to his groundout/pop-up combination to end the threat.
One runner managed to reach base in each of the subsequent three half-innings, but none advanced past first, as Ruosso polished off his shutout with a harmless groundball to third.
Looking ahead, both Darien-New Canaan players and coaches were hopeful for a most positive ending to next season, given most of the team should return.
"We're a young team, and we're looking to get almost everybody back next year and take another run at it," Patrona said.
His star starting pitcher couldn't have agreed more.
"I think my control really came together this year," Sealy said. "I think we're going to come back next year even better."
Trumbull 1, Darien-New Canaan 0
Darien-New Canaan 000 000 0--0 3 0
Trumbull 001 000 X--1 5 0
Records: Darien 12-15, Trumbull 24-2. Batteries: D-- Charlie Sealy (L) and Liam Gallagher; T--Peter Rousso (W) and Justin Waldek. Highlights: T-- Rousso threw a complete game three-hitter with six strikeouts. Kyle Dewalt recorded two infield hits and scored a run.