DARIEN -- There may never come a day when New Canaan senior captains Matt Toth and Dan Rajkowski earn their titles more than they did Wednesday.
On the road and trailing early to rival Darien, Toth launched a grand slam in the third inning to put his team ahead for good during an eventual 6-2 Rams victory. Rajkowski picked up the win on the hill for New Canaan through five strong innings of work and seven strikeouts. The Blue Wave (12-4, 10-4 FCIAC) fell for the third time in its last four games, despite outhitting the Rams 8-7.
"I feel that Toth carries us, along with Dan," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "Dan also came out and did a great job today and shut them down. They're a great hitting ballclub."
With the win, the Rams essentially bounced back from a tough two-week stretch that saw three close losses to top conference opponents. The day before, St. Joseph had handed New Canaan a 6-3 defeat, which pushed the reigning state champions down closer to the FCIAC pack. However, topping their chief rival seemed to be the perfect remedy for any recent troubles.
"It's been a lot of tight games," Toth said of the Rams' recent stretch. "It just hasn't been going our way recently, but today it did. So, I think that's why it's a big win. And it's Darien, which is always big."
One half-inning after Darien shortstop Bobby Fitzpatrick plated his team's first run with an RBI single, Wave starter Ames Murray loaded the bases in the third via a pair of walks and bunt single. Toth, who had doubled earlier on the first fastball he saw, waited two pitches before striking again.
"It was just a 2-0 count and I was just basically looking for a fastball up that I could drive and he threw it there," Toth said of his grand slam. "So, I got a good swing on that."
Between Murray and reliever Luke Mangan, Darien went on to hand out seven free passes, matching the number of Ram hits on the day. New Canaan maximized its extra opportunities on the base paths by swiping nine bases, led by three from junior Alex LaPolice. Following his inning-opening single to left, LaPolice stole two bags in the fifth and later scored on a wild pitch.
"It's not like they came in and tore the cover off the ball," Wave coach Mike Scott said. "They built the (third) inning with two walks and we can't defend the walk ¦ And they're too good of a hitting team to let that opportunity pass."
The Rams tacked on an addition run in the top of the sixth with a Toth RBI single. Darien then responded with consecutive two-out doubles from Mike O'Malley and Anthony DiMeglio, cutting the deficit to four. New Canaan reliever JR Anderson proceeded to walk the next two batters, before getting lifted for recently called up Clark Newlove. With the bases now loaded, Newlove retired pinch hitter Jake Frasca to effectively seal the win.
New Canaan 6, Darien 2
NEW CANAAN 004 101 0--6 7 0 Read Full Article
DARIEN 010 001 0--2 8 0
Records: New Canaan 12-5, 10-5 FCIAC; Darien 12-4, 10-4 FCIAC. Batteries: NC--Dan Rajkowski, JR Anderson (6), Clark Newlove (6) and Zack Smith; D--Ames Murray, Luke Mangan (3) and Anthony DiMeglio. Highlights: NC--Matt Toth hit a grand slam in the third inning. The Rams stole nine bases, led by three from Alex LaPolice. Starter Dan Rajkowski struck out seven batters over five innings. D--Bobby Fitzpatrick went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a double. Over 4 1/3 innings of relief, Luke Mangan recorded six strikeouts.