Nault, Darien blank Westhill
STAMFORD -- The Darien baseball team had no shortage of opportunities to score in its first FCIAC game of the 2013 season.
After stranding five base runners through five innings, the Blue Wave finally broke through in the final two frames with some timely, clutch hitting.
And, given how hot their starting pitcher was, one run was more than enough.
Andrew Nault fired a three-hit shutout as Darien opened its FCIAC schedule with a 3-0 win over host Westhill on Monday afternoon.
"I couldn't ask for anything more from (Nault) today," Darien coach Mike Scott said. "He was in the zone all day; he was getting ahead in the count and pitching to contact. We thought it was a complete team effort on our part."
Nault went the distance, throwing just 79 pitches while walking two without striking out a batter. The junior didn't allow an extra base hit and only one Vikings' batter reached second base.
"I just kept the ball low and our defense came up clutch," Nault said. "Our home field is turf so we are used to easy bounces and this was dirt; sometimes the ball gets on you fast (on dirt). Our defense played well and (Westhill) made a couple of errors and we capitalized on them."
Westhill's Sean Remondino nearly matched Nault pitch-for-pitch, but came undone late on as a result of a few unfortunate bounces and outstanding at-bats by the Blue Wave.
"(Remondino) did a great job, he was cruising through the fifth inning," Westhill coach D.J. Mulvany said. "In the sixth inning he was able to get out of there just giving up one run. Sean had a great performance, the third one in three games."
After the teams traded zeros for five innings, the visitors got on the board in the top of the sixth. Remondino lost the plate for a few batters, walking two and allowing a single to Carl Stowell. With the bases loaded and no one out, George Reed hit an infield single to the third base side to drive in the game's first run.
"We were hitting balls all day and getting chances," Scott said. "We were facing a gutty pitcher on the mound in (Remondino). It was a matter of getting guys on in the right spot and just having that one guy break through."
Westhill escaped the jam without further damage when centerfielder Dante Fargnolli caught a fly ball for the second out and then fired home to catcher Joey DePreta, who tagged a Darien base runner who was trying to score.
Westhill had an opportunity to respond in the bottom of the sixth. Fargnoli led off the inning with a single to left, but was thrown out at second by left fielder Brendan Donahue."
"It was a heads-up play right there," Scott said. "(Fargnoli) was trying to put pressure on us and we just executed right there."
Darien added to its lead in the top of the seventh. With two runners on base, Nick Pettit hit a ball to left for a single that took an awkward bounce over the right fielder and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing both runners to score.
The Vikings are now 0-3 despite giving up seven runs so far this season, thanks to an offense that has yet to match the production of the starting pitching.
"We have to get the offense going," Mulvany said. "Defense and pitching have been there it's just that missing component. In high school baseball you have to score more than what we are scoring. Hopefully we get it turned around quickly because Trumbull is coming to down (Friday) and it won't get any easier."
DARIEN 3, WESTHILL 0
DARIEN 000 001 2--3 10 0
WESTHILL 000 000 0--0 5 2
Records: Darien 2-1, 1-0 FCIAC; Westhill 0-3, 0-2.
Batteries: D--Andrew Nault (W, 1-0) and Jack Travers. W--Sean Remondino (L, 0-1), and Joey DePreta.