Baseball: Gaels rebound against Cross

Shelton’s Will Ciccone tags a Wilbur Cross runner attempting to take third on a pitch in the dirt. — Andy Hutchison photo

Shelton High’s baseball team bounced back from a 9-4 loss at North Haven on Sunday with a 9-4 win of its own, a triumph over visiting Wilbur Cross the next afternoon.

The Gaels did a good job of situational hitting, ran the bases well and capitalized on chances to put together their highest offensive outburst of the season. They improved to 4-5 overall and Wilbur Cross fell to 2-6.

Shelton jumped out to a 4-0 lead over North Haven but, thanks in part to five errors, saw the opposition come back.

“It was a nice win today to come back after a tough loss,” said Shelton coach Scott Gura, adding that Wilbur Cross is a better team than its record indicates. “That team is gritty.”

As was Shelton starting pitcher Carl Kopf, who surrendered four runs in the first three innings then settled down to toss consecutive one-two-three frames. He pitched around one hit in the sixth, thanks to catcher Jason DeSio nabbing a would-be base stealer with a throw to third baseman Will Ciccone after blocking a pitch in the dirt.

Kopf left after six innings. He recorded four strikeouts, allowed seven hits, six of which came in the first three innings, and walked four— all in the first three frames.

“He started a little slow but as a senior, two-year starter for us we had a long leash for him,” Gura said. “I was happy with his performance after the beginning.”

Justin Hafele made his first varsity appearance and worked around two hits to pitch the seventh. Hafele made a diving catch on a bunted ball in front of the mound for his first out and ended the game with a strikeout.

The Gaels plated two runs in each of the first four innings and tacked on another in the fifth.

Leadoff hitter David Wells had three singles and two runs scored. No. 2 hitter Ciccone had three singles, two RBI and two runs scored; third batter Matt Hunyadi had a pair of singles and a run scored, cleanup batter Francis DeMarco walked, singled, stole a base, and drove in a run; Kopf walked twice, singled and scored in the fifth spot in the order; and No. 6 batter Ryan Murphy had a single and an RBI groundout.

The bottom third of the batting order was as productive as the top and middle of the lineup. Joe Zoppi had a triple and run scored, Matt Silverstein walked, and Mike Kennedy doubled twice and drove in three runs.

Ciccone tied the game with a first-inning single and an error gave the Gaels their first lead.

Down 3-2 in the second, the Gaels reclaimed the advantage as Zoppi tripled and scored on Kennedy’s first two-bagger, and Ciccone collected another RBI single.

Wilbur Cross tied things in the top of the third. In the bottom half, the see-saw contest continued with Kennedy providing a two-run double for a 6-4 Shelton lead.

In the last of the fourth, the Gaels doubled their lead. DeMarco attempted to sacrifice two runners with a bunt, but with two strikes had to swing away and delivered an opposite-field, hit-and-run single to produce another run. Murphy’s grounder made it 8-4.

Wells used his speed to help manufacture a run in the fifth, as he singled and went all the way to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Ciccone’s single — a bouncer through the drawn in infield on the left side.

Gura is encouraged by how his team is playing and wants to see the Gaels continue to put in a solid effort.

“We’re a team that needs to work in practice and in games to be successful,” the coach said. “We’ve just got to learn how to win.”

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