DARIEN -- Although time is seemingly running out, the Norwalk High baseball team is still holding out hope a strong late-season push can translate into another postseason appearance.
In order to complete that surprising turnaround and fully erase the sting of an 0-7 start to the season, the Bears will certainly need more performances like the one they put together on Friday afternoon.
Fueled by some clutch two-out hitting and a strong outing on the pitcher's mound from junior Lukas LaBry, Norwalk continued its gradual climb back up the standings with a 7-2 road victory over Darien.
"We're just trying to do whatever we can to get into states. We've just got to stay hot," said catcher Matt Ederle, who contributed to Norwalk's 12-hit day by going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Seven of the Bears' hits came in the first two innings as they jumped on Darien right-hander Dillion Duncan's pitches early and built a 4-1 lead.
After both teams plated runs on sacrifice flies in the first inning, the Bears broke it open in the second by scoring three runs--all with two outs. Third baseman Mike Parlanti hit an RBI single to make it 2-1. Ederle followed with an RBI infield hit, and a Darien throwing error on the play allowed another run to score.
That was more than enough support for LaBry, who cruised through the Blue Wave lineup despite working with what he felt wasn't his "best stuff." The Bears' right-hander allowed six hits and walked just one in a complete-game effort.
"On days where you don't have all your stuff, the defense made plays, I got ground balls, fly balls and we hit," LaBry said.
"He was able to just relax as the game went on," Norwalk assistant coach Nick Pia said. "We were calling one or two curveballs an inning just to show it, but that was a total team effort. We hit the ball well, we ran the bases well and played defense really, really well."
Center fielder Bryan Previte accounted for most of Darien's offense as he doubled twice and drove in both runs. Previte's two-out double in the third inning made it 5-2 but LaBry bounced back to retire eight out of the next nine batters.
"We've had games where we've showed up with the bats and games where we haven't. Today was one of the days where we just didn't get the job done at the plate," said Darien head coach Mike Scott, whose team fell to 5-10 on the season.
Norwalk fared much better at the plate as all nine starters recorded at least one hit. Left fielder Tyler Burns went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored to lead the attack.
"I go up there every at-bat thinking single and hoping I get a single and I'm sure all of us do the same," Burns said. "We're just all ready to hit."
The mood has suddenly shifted for the Bears, who are now 4-3 since their seven-game losing streak.
"We were knocking on the door and we're walking through the door now. That's a tribute to these kids. They could've packed it in three or four weeks ago. But they didn't," Pia said. "They came and battled every day and now success is starting to bounce their way."
Up 5-2 in the seventh inning, Norwalk tacked on a pair of insurance runs against Darien reliever Jonathon Dehlin. Burns recorded a run-scoring single and center fielder Richard Liscio hit a sacrifice fly.
Since the loss to Norwalk, Darien dropped a 2-0 road contest against Wilton.
Darien also played at Stamford on Thursday, but the result was not available at press time. Darien travels to take on Fairfield Warde at 3:45 this afternoon.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-330-6289; twitter.com/DougBonjour
NORWALK 7, DARIEN 2
NORWALK 131 000 2--7 12 0
DARIEN 101 000 0--2 6 1
Records: Norwalk 4-10, 4-8; Darien 5-10, 4-9.
Batteries: N--Lukas LaBry (W) and Matt Ederle. D--Dillion Duncan (L), Jonathon Dehlin (7) and Sam Gillespie.
Doubles: N--Steve Curran. D--Bryan Previte 2.