With another big game just two days away, Shelton head baseball coach Scott Gura didn’t need to tell his team about the importance of its Monday afternoon, home opener against undefeated Hamden (7-0).
And his players, starting with lead-off hitter Chris Kanios, were prepared to send an early message to the Green Dragons.
Kanios’ triple to straight away center field on the game’s first at-bat set the tone.
One wild pitch later, from Hamden’s Andy Sitro (2-0) and the Gaels had a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Starter Craig McNamara then went the distance, not allowing a run until the seventh in a 5-1 SCC victory over what had been the sixth-ranked team (New Haven Register poll) in the state.
“I wanted to stay on top of things today,” McNamara said. “I had my outside and inside pitches working. And when you have your infielders playing like they did today, you begin believing you can do just about anything.”
Shelton played host to No. 1-ranked and unbeaten (9-0) Amity Regional on Wednesday.
Shelton opened its season back on April 11 losing to the Spartans, 1-0.
The Gaels, who evened their won-lost record at 3-3, pushed across three runs in the third on just two hits, taking advantage of two Hamden errors.
Kanios was the catalyst again. He drove in a run with a single up the middle and eventually came around to score.
“I was just trying to get on top of something early,” said Kanios, one of only three seniors on this year’s team. “I knew we needed a spark on offense. It was nice to get back home after playing our first five games on the road. Hopefully, this will be a momentum builder for us.”
Ryan Murphy, who opened up the frame with a base hit, also scored, as did Carl Kopf. McNamara’s sacrifice fly produced a run.
Taking a 4-0 lead into the fifth, the Gaels used precise execution to earn a fifth run.
Matt Silverstein, the No. 9 hitter, laced a ball down the left-field line, winding up on second with a double.
Kanios, a right-handed hitter, drove the ball the other way and was out at first with Silverstein advancing to third.
Gura then called for the suicide squeeze. Silverstein broke for the plate and Carl Kopf dropped down the bunt. Sitro’s only play was to first as Silverstein scored Shelton’s fifth and final run.
Hamden got its only run in the seventh off McNamara, who improved his record to 2-0 while giving up only four hits. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter until the seventh.
Andy Kirscheinbauer led off the inning with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a Shelton error.
“I talk about it all the time to these kids that in this league there are no days off,” said Hamden coach Chris Borelli, a former Green Dragon who played his college baseball at Southern Connecticut.
“We’re on the road meeting a team with a 2-3 record and that didn’t mean anything. Now we need to see what we can do. We have Notre Dame (the Green Dragons already have a victory over the Green Knights) on Wednesday. We need to recover.”
With a win over one well-ranked team in the books, the Gaels appeared ready for another showdown on Wednesday.
“We gain a little confidence when we score early,” Gura said. “We’re such a young team that to execute like we did today, it’s a good sign. These kids are learning every day. I think we have six guys who between them had played only six varsity games coming into this season.”