Norwalk baseball blanks Darien
Published 8:27 pm, Thursday, May 9, 2013
DARIEN -- Norwalk baseball coach Pete Tucci has seen his squad struggle down the stretch towards a possible absence of any postseason play for the second year and a row.
The Bears showed fight Thursday, and, buoyed by the return of one of their best hitters, kept their state tournament aspirations alive with a solid performance in all three phases of the game.
Tristan Opdahl marked his return to the starting lineup with a 3-for-3 performance that included a home run as Norwalk ended its six-game losing skid with a 6-0 win over Darien that put a serious dent in the Blue Wave's FCIAC playoff hopes.
"That's how I think we are capable of playing," Tucci said. "We just haven't played that well this year. We threw some games away; this game we played today was pretty solid. Our defense was good; no errors. When you have a high school game with no errors and only one or two walks you have a chance to win."
Opdahl, who missed most of the last month due to injury, drilled the second pitch he saw from Darien's Andrew Nault far over the left field fence to give the Bears a 2-0, first-inning lead. He also singled with runners on the corners during a fifth-inning rally that help seal just the second win in 12 games for Norwalk.
"I felt pretty good today," Opdahl said. "I was just seeing (the ball). I don't know what it was to be honest; it was a nice first game back. It stinks to lose and sometimes you get used to it, which is a very bad feeling, but after today I feel like we are going to win out. We feel like we can't be stopped."
Norwalk put the game away in the fifth with five straight singles to open the inning. Ricky Liscio plated two with his base hit, as did Opdahl when his shot was mishandled in the outfield. Darien tried to answer in the top half of the sixth, but Nick Pettit hit the ball hard into a double play and the Blue Wave were caught on a double steal attempt to end the threat.
"We didn't execute pitches early in the game," Darien coach Mike Scott said. "We certainly gave away too many at-bats early in the game, we gave away too many outs on the base paths. We just made too many errors all around in every area of the game."
Nate Cutting was solid on the mound for the Bears. The junior allowed three hits while walking two and striking out three. He also hit a pair of batters in six innings of work.
"(Cutting) was fine today," Tucci said. "He's been good on the mound for us all year. He throws strikes, he doesn't overpower you but is a smart kid that knows how to pitch and field his spot."
Although Norwalk was slated as the home team, the game was played at Darien because the Blue Wave have a turf field that was saved from the wet conditions Thursday. The Bears must win their final three games in order to qualify for the state tournament.
Darien dropped to 10th in the FCIAC, a game behind Staples with four to play. The Blue Wave must rebound quickly if they want to end their four-year conference playoff drought.
"It's one game and we're still in the thick of things for the FCIAC race and for state seeding," Scott said. "The challenge for these guys is to want something more. We've shown we can come back before; we've gotten beat before and we know what it feels like. We have to come back tomorrow and take it to a good (Fairfield) Warde team."
Norwalk 6, Darien 0
DARIEN 000 000 0--0 3 1
NORWALK 200 040 X--6 9 0
Records: Norwalk 5-12, 4-11 FCIAC; Darien 8-8, 7-7.
Batteries: N--Nate Cutting (W), Sean Butler and Ryan Evans; D--Andrew Nault (L), Matt Morr and Jack Travers. Highlights: N--Tristan Opdahl went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Ricky Liscio went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.