Extra-Base Hits: A Week Of Runs And Streaks As Regular Season Hits Homestretch

Ridgefield shortstop Matt Stamatis throws out a runner yesterday against Staples. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

We are hitting the homestretch of the FCIAC baseball regular season, with most teams having either three or four games remaining. While some separation is starting to occur in the number of teams still in the race for the eight spots, it is not by much.

The teams that would hold the second through eighth seeds if the season ended today are within two games of each other in the loss column. Similarly, that is the same difference between eight schools trying to get the final four berths.

Last week was one of the craziest I can remember on a number of fronts, including collective offense, schedules and the continuation of schools making either dramatic climbs or drops in the standings.

Some review and random thoughts as we head for the finish line.

• There is no way to check the record for most runs in a week by league schools, but I am guessing what happened last Monday through Saturday is high on the list.

• Fairfield Ludlowe scored 50 runs in their three wins in four games. That included a 16-12 decision over New Canaan.

The Rams the next day played in a game with 29 total runs. They were tied at 8-8 with Brien McMahon after one inning in what would become a 15-14 extra-inning win. Those two games were preceded by what now looks like a modest 9-7 decision over Norwalk.

Fairfield Warde beat Trinity Catholic 27-9 — there were no touchdowns — and finished with 44 runs, the Senators ended up with 31 and Staples put up 25.

It was not a good six-day stretch for many pitching staffs.

• Darien had one of the most difficult stretches in recent memory, with five games in five days. What would have been considered the easiest at the time were Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe, and they are both right on the FCIAC Tournament bubble. The other three opponents — Wilton, Ridgefield and Staples — started the week in the top 11 in the state poll.

The Blue Wave won their first three games, which meant they could hold back their top pitchers against Ridgefield and Staples, which disappointed fans but was the prudent move given their place in the standings and not wearing out his staff.

A number of teams played four games, including Trumbull, which bucked the aforementioned trend. Talk about memorable stretches: The Eagles gave up one run with three shutouts during their recent surge. Pitchers allowed a total of just 15 hits.

It made yesterday’s 9-3 victory against Fairfield Warde appear as if the pitching had faltered.

• Ridgefield, Staples and Darien have been playing a game of leapfrog atop the standings and each could secure playoff spots by the end of the week. Darien was in first place before losing to the Tigers and Wreckers. Staples took over first place until yesterday, when it lost to Ridgefield 3-2.

Seeds mean less in baseball than any other sport, and all that really matters is trying to get one of the top four spots in order to play a quarterfinal game at home.

• We are witnessing some really pronounced winning and losing streaks that have shifted the playoff picture. Wilton was in the state top 10 eight days ago. It has since lost four of five games. None was by more than three runs and two were by a run in the opponent’s final at bat. The Warriors are now one game out of a tournament berth.

Similarly, Westhill has lost three in a row and five of the last six and is now two games out.

On the other side, Trumbull has rebounded from a three-game slide with six straight wins and is now in a three-way tie for the last three spots. Warde had won five of six before yesterday’s loss to the Eagles, while Ludlowe had a five-game winning streak but now has dropped two of three, including a 9-7 10-inning loss yesterday to St. Joseph.

The Cadets have been the streakiest team, having won or loss at least two games in a row.

Then there is the case of Danbury, which very quietly has won seven of eight. The Hatters were 2-6 at one point. They have lost all four of their non-league games and are 9-4 in the FCIAC.

— We haven’t mentioned in a while how excited we are to have the final two rounds of the playoffs at Cubeta Stadium. This is the best venue for the tournament.

Top Of The Order

1. Ridgefield (13-3, 10-2). It seems a different player produces the major offensive contribution each game. The Tigers have also developed strong starting pitching, witnessed again yesterday as Matt DeLuca beat Staples.

2. Staples (12-4, 10-3). The Wreckers seem to have found their groove and now have Chad Knight as part of their starting rotation. They are also 7-1 at home.

3. Darien (13-4, 10-3). It is too bad the Blue Wave’s last two games of a five-day week came against the Tigers and Wreckers. It would have been a nice preview if they were able to use their best starting pitchers.

4. St. Joseph (11-5, 8-4). It looks like the Cadets have broken out of their midseason slump.

5. Danbury (9-8, 9-4). It has been some time since we had a team one game over .500 in our top five. But the streaking Hatters are one of the league’s hottest teams.