Post 141 cruises past Westport
Trumbull American Legion coach Brett Connor likes to refer to them as his “igniters.”
A recent adjustment to the top of the lineup has given Trumbull the lift it needed, as Post 141 won its fourth straight game and improved to 17-6 last Friday night with a 13-3 win over Westport in a game shortened to six innings by the mercy rule at Trumbull High.
Led by clean-up hitter Luke Waldek’s two-run, wind-aided home run in the six-run third inning, the winners banged out 10 hits and used seven walks to capitalize on its victory.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this season,” said Connor, an assistant coach to soon-retiring Quinnipiac University head baseball coach Dan Gooley. “In between, we’ve relied on our pitching and defense to carry us.
“But four games ago, we shook up the lineup. We needed to put our quicker players (five) near the top of our lineup. It’s made a tremendous difference.”
Waldek, a left-handed swinging shortstop and recent Trumbull High graduate, hit a ball to left field which, at first, he didn’t think would make it all the way to and eventually over the fence.
“I thought I had a sacrifice fly to start out,” said Waldek, who will attend Mankato State University in Minnesota this fall. “Then it got up in the wind and went all the way. This was a win we needed.
“We had good pitching and have had solid defense all year long. Now our hitting is kicking back in again.”
Both Simon Whiteman and Tyler Graziano (the first and second hitters) reached base the first three times they batted. They totaled six runs between them.
Westport scored three runs in the opening inning for a quick lead off of Trumbull starter Tim Keckler.
“We did exactly what we needed to do,” Westport coach Wayne Randozzo said. “Our hitters jumped on them early. Then we needed a shutdown inning which we didn’t get.
“We let them right back in the game in that first inning.”
Trumbull exploded for four first-inning runs before adding two in the second and six more in the third.
Whiteman and designated hitter Ryan Fritz led the assault with a pair of hits each. Brendon Moore, Waldek and Carl Johnson drove in two runs each.
Connor went to Evan Nair (62 pitches) in the second inning after Keckler (55 pitches) walked his fourth batter. Keckler did strike out three in the first inning, despite giving up three runs and walking a total of four batters.
“Tim struggled tonight,” Connor said.
“He tried to hit spots, but his control wasn’t as good as its’ been in the past.”
Nair retired the first three batters that he faced; two on strikeouts and went the rest of the way to earn the win.
“What Evan did was to get them to make contact and our defense did the rest,” Connor said.
Nair faced 18 batters while allowing four hits and no runs. He didn’t get another strikeout, while yielding one walk.
The defense behind him turned two double plays.
“We’re in the hunt in our Zone (Zone IV),” Connor said. “We have Stamford and Greenwich in front of us and we meet both of them next week.
“This was a must-win game for us tonight if we want to stay in the Zone chase and make the state tournament.”
The loss dropped Westport to 9-10 overall.
Trumbull went on to defeat Easton (14-0), Darien (6-1) and Zone leader Stamford (6-0), to improve to 20-6.
Post 141 hosted Greenwich (20-6) last night in both squads’ regular-season finale.