FAIRFIELD — By the time Chad Knight produced Staples’ first hit this afternoon, a two-run double in the fourth inning, his team already had a 4-0 lead over Fairfield Warde.
The Wreckers were opportunistic taking advantage of walks and hit-batsmen early on. Later, when the Mustangs rallied within 6-4, Staples’ bats came to life. It scored four runs in the seventh — Knight crushed a long triple to drive in two more runs for the key hit — in a 10-4 victory. It was the Wreckers’ fourth win in five days after their opening-week games were postponed.
“There’s a lot of different ways to score in baseball,” Knight said. “We were able to walk and get on base and have great at-bats 1 through 9 in our lineup and manufacture some runs until we were able to break through.”
Staples coach Jack McFarland went deep into his pitching staff and got satisfactory results, particularly from Sam Robin, who in his first varsity start allowed just one run over 3 1/3 innings.
“We had all sorts of opportunities to tack on and make it bigger earlier,” McFarland said. “Warde fought back. We knew they were going to. Everything got a little bit dicey. We’re into our bullpen. We’re throwing some guys out there for the first time to see what they have and they did a good job.”
Warde pitchers struck out 11 — but walked eight and hit three batters. That set the tone for Staples to score a run in the first inning on an error and three more in the fourth on three walks, two hit batters and another error.
It was the cause for Mustangs coach Brett Conner’s frustration after the game.
“It’s not our preparation any more,” Conner said. “We’ve practiced, we’ve prepared for these games. Now it’s in between the white lines we have to perform. Pitchers have to trust their stuff and get the job done for us. We can’t put ourselves in a hole like that. We’re beating ourselves. They’re all very good pitchers. When the lights are on they have to perform.”
The manner of the deficit was compounded when Warde (2-3) rallied for four runs, including three in the sixth, to make the score 6-4. The Mustangs had half of their eight hits, including a run-scoring triple by Zach McKay and Alex Steele’s RBI single.
But the comeback bid was quickly halted when Staples erupted for five hits in the seventh, including four in succession. Knight’s drive kept rolling deep in centerfield.
“It felt good off the bat but the most important thing is we came out with a win,” Knight said.
“When we’re not getting too many hits we just want to get on base because when there’s traffic on the base we have a fantastic lineup, and all it takes is one hit to get a couple of runs up,” Knight said.
Matt Stone finished with two hits and two RBIs for Staples, which has won nine straight games dating back to the run up to last year’s state championship. Every player reached base at least once.
“I knew today we were a little bit tired, we left some runners on base,” McFarland said. “But we did a good job getting to their No. 1 pitcher’s pitch count a little bit, getting into their bullpen until our bats finally came around and came up with some big hits with guys on base.”
McKay, Sam Vincent and Chris Hardiman each had a pair of hits for the Mustangs.
“We have three losses and I feel like we’re beating ourselves,” Conner said. “We have a really, really good team. It’s just a matter of our pitchers keeping us in the game and giving us a chance. Hitting our spots. We’re just missing too much and they’re not varsity effective pitches that they are throwing. You can’t get away with throwing the ball down the middle.”
Staples hosts defending league champion Wilton on Monday. It carries added confidence off the quick start.
“We’re playing really, really good team baseball,” Knight said. “Our pitchers have been phenomenal, being bulldogs, throwing strikes. When we have the opportunities to score we’re taking advantage of them. We’re playing really good baseball right now and we hope to carry it into next week.”