WESTPORT — Staples coach Jack McFarland attributes his team’s offensive prowess almost as much to the players on the bench as those out in the field.
“One through nine we have a lot of competition, with five or six guys that aren’t playing right now that are close to pushing other kids,” McFarland said. “That’s why they’re hitting. There’s no complacency right not. Everybody’s competing. They know when they get in that box they have to produce because there’s somebody right behind them.”
In the second inning today against Wilton, it appeared the players in the lineup were doing their own motivating. There were eight hits, including four in succession, highlighted by Matt Stone’s home run. The Wreckers scored six times in what would become a 12-1 win that was stopped after the Warriors batted in the fifth because of the 10-run rule.
“I’m proud of them today because we came out, it’s cold, it’s really not a baseball day,” McFarland said. “The way they swung the bats today, I’m really proud.”
Seven different players had at least two hits, led by Kevin Rabacs with three, while Stone and Chris Drbal, who also homered, drove in four runs each.
“We’ve been really hot with the bats lately,” Drbal said. “We’ve certainly been working on it a tremendous amount and it’s all paying off now.”
The Wreckers have scored 46 runs during a 5-0 start as they set their sites on postseason success, including a second straight Class LL title. There is cause for optimism, though McFarland stressed not overconfidence.
“We were just on today. They’re a really good team, they’ve got some good players,” McFarland said of Wilton. “It was just one of those days.”
Drbal, the leadoff hitter known more for getting on base than his power, highlighted the afternoon with a towering three-run homer over the centerfield fence in the fourth. The ball traveled over 400 feet.
“I did not think my first home run would go to center, I’ll be honest,” Drbal said. “It felt great. Probably one of the best feelings coming off the bat in my career.”
McFarland said Drbal’s appearance belies his brawn.
“He’s a lot stronger than he looks,” McFarland said. “He’s a real good player. He’s got lightning hands at the plate.”
Wilton (3-2) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second but was held to three hits by Harry Azadian, who struck out seven.
Warriors coach Tim Eagen said while it would not have affected the outcome, his team was not making plays on defense.
“The loss always bothers me right or wrong. It’s how it happened,” Eagen said. “We have two double play (balls), you’ve got a young pitcher on the mound who’s trying to get out of it, and they hit through the lineup. There’s not a cheap out in the whole lineup. You’ve got to make the plays when the ball is hit to you or it opens the gate when you’ve got a small margin of error, now they get the big hit, now they get the bomb.”
Drbal and Stone also doubled, while Drew Rogers had a triple among his two hits and drove in two runs.
Drbal agreed with his coach’s assessment of the team’s offense.
“It definitely plays a role,” Drbal said. “Everybody’s pushing for that spot and Coach McFarland does a great job of giving everybody opportunities to show what they’ve got, and when they get those opportunities they normally tend to come through. I know I can trust anybody in this lineup at any given moment. It’s just wonderful to have such a great group of guys, all the talent around the whole lineup.”