STAMFORD — On a day when it failed to show the sharpness that has carried it to the top of the standings, the Staples High School baseball team used two strong innings with the bats to topple Westhill on Monday, 9-2, and clinch the top seed for next week’s FCIAC Tournament.
Adam Dulsky led a 12-hit attack with four hits, including a three-run homer. Freshman Ben Casparius also had a three-run homer as the Wreckers (16-3, 15-2 FCIAC) did all of their scoring in the second and third innings.
“Yesterday we practiced for about four hours,” Dulsky said. “A lot at live at bats, a lot of good swings and I think it showed today. Right out of the gate. In the first inning we had the bases loaded and in the second inning we had the bases loaded again.”
This is the final week of the regular season in the FCIAC. The boys and girls lacrosse playoffs begin on Friday. The baseball and softball tournaments open a week from tomorrow.
Except in baseball, where we have one of the best horse races in recent memory, there should be little drama in the other sports.
That all changes once the postseason commences. If there is one across-the-board keyword to the spring sports season, it is parity.
DARIEN — The New Canaan baseball team’s season may have changed in the course of 10 seconds Wednesday afternoon. That was the approximate time it took Matt Toth’s fly ball to clear the centerfield fence, a third-inning grand slam that was the crowning blow in a 6-2 win at Darien.
The Rams, the defending CIAC Class L champions, came into the day in the eighth and what would be final seed in the FCIAC Tournament.
TRUMBULL — You want the definitive quote of the FCIAC baseball season? It was delivered by New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman Tuesday afternoon, moments after his team’s 6-3 loss to St. Joseph.
Hoffman could have been speaking for a dozen of his colleagues not named Jack McFarland, jockeying to qualify for the FCIAC Tournament, when he said, “Just get me in, I don’t care who we play. There’s nobody that impressive that I feel we can’t beat. Just get me a ticket to the dance.”
TRUMBULL — There was little mystery in the St. Joseph High School batting order for Rob Vallone.
The Staples pitcher has played with many of the Jesuits’ top players on the Technique Tigers summer team for the past five years.
But familiarity with a hard-hitting lineup does not necessarily equate into taming it, and Vallone had to contend with maintaining a scoreless duel with the Cadets’ Jake Amoroso through five innings on Monday though runners had reached base in the first four.
WESTPORT — On the surface, the Staples baseball team’s 9-5 win over Darien on Friday afternoon neither advanced the storyline nor moved the needle with two wins left in the regular season.
The Wreckers got what Ryder Chasin accurately described of his outing as a gutsy performance from their pitcher. Chasin relinquished an early 4-0 lead as the Blue Wave scored twice in each of the third and fourth innings, then settled down and allowed just one run in the seventh, with Justin Gallanty coming in for the final out.
NEW CANAAN — On a night when Jack Bauer made his return, Staples baseball coach Jack McFarland attempted a covert op of his own: giving highly touted freshman Ben Casparius his first start on the mound Monday against New Canaan, the defending state champion.
There was a method to the madness: with back to back wins over Ridgefield and Fairfield Ludlowe, respectively, on Friday and Saturday, McFarland felt he had enough currency to “see if I had another starter.”
There was also precedence. McFarland gave then soon-to-be-star David Speer, the ace during a time period when the Wreckers won three FCIAC titles in four years, his first start as a freshman on the same field.
Ronnie Jackson still works his wizardry at shortstop, making the exceptional look routine. Jackson’s hitting is not quite at the same level as his junior year for the Westhill baseball team, but he continues to spend extra hours in the batting cage after practice.
Jackson has to make up for a lot of lost time.
Jackson, a Division I prospect at the end of the 2012 season, missed almost the entire of what should have been his senior year at Westhill to go back for eight months to the Dominican Republic, where he lived until he was 14, to care by himself for his ailing grandmother.
Baseball by its very nature is the sport that makes for the most difficult prognostications. If practical, multi-game series would be a better measuring stick and make it much easier to feel like you are standing on a firmer limb with predictions.
But overall talent is only a partial factor. There is also the roulette element: so much in high school baseball depends on when you play opponents. Do you end up facing a steady course of No. 1 pitchers, or does your turn come up against the 2s and 3s? Almost every team has at least one ace.
The expected overall strength of the league this year has played out; there is more quality, top to bottom, than in recent memory. A glance at the standings at the midseason point reveals that, except for Darien, every team has at least two conference losses.