NEW CANAAN — No other FCIAC pitcher has a more structured schedule than Staples’ Harry Azadian. Mondays belong to Azadian. Wreckers coach Jack McFarland doesn’t factor in the opponent, how many games are being played the rest of the week or the weather forecast. Each Monday, Azadian is called upon to set the tone.
McFarland joked that he refers to the situation as On Any Given Monday, a play on the football movie starring Al Pacino, but the coach should instead look to Broadway, because like the rest of the team, they are all wild about Harry.
For good cause. Following today’s 12-3 win over New Canaan at Mead Park, Azadian has started on six straight Mondays and has a 5-1 record, one of just many reasons the Wreckers today clinched the No. 2 seed for the FCIAC Tournament, which is scheduled to start on Friday.
“It’s nice to get a schedule going and know that you get a week’s rest and get your day,” Azadian said after allowing one run over five innings. “It definitely makes it easier. It’s nice to be in a routine. The other guys in the pen have been doing their jobs. The pitching looks pretty good for the tournament.”
It can be argued the Wreckers are also in a routine They are 8-2 over the last 10 games, a span where they have averaged nine runs.
“We’re a pretty mature team and we can handle coming here and playing good baseball,” McFarland said. “Our goal was to win 12 and we got that today, and we clinched a home game, which is what we wanted.”
McFarland was referring to his target for conference victories. Staples is now 14-4 over all and 12-3 in league play. It closes out the regular season tomorrow at home against St. Joseph.
Azadian went 3 for 4 and drove in a run as part of a 17-hit attack. The offensive star was catcher Matt Stone, who continued his hot streak with three doubles and two RBIs.
Kevin Rabacs had two hits and drove in a pair of runs, while Chris Drbal, Max Popken and Adam Petro added two hits apiece. Drbal, Petro and Andrew Moy each drove in two runs. There were seven extra-base hits.
“The lineup’s been doing their job,” Azadian said. “Stone with three doubles, that’s nasty. He has been hitting the ball really well right now. We know when we play our game good things happen. These guys are playing great.”
New Canaan’s Zach Lopez struck out the side in the first inning, but Staples bounced back for five hits and four runs in the second.
“I didn’t like our at-bats in the first, we had a little discussion and the top of the second we made some adjustments and our lineup started hitting the baseball after that,” McFarland said.
Lopez gave up six runs — five earned — over five innings. He struck out 10. There was also an error.
“When you’re playing the best hitting team in the league, you get off to a good start and then the second inning you give them four or five outs, we can’t do that,” New Canaan coach Geoff Lambert said. “We’re not good enough to hit with them. We started with two hits and then they shut us down.”
The Rams (9-10, 7-8) took a 1-0 lead on the first when Frank Ramppen hit a leadoff double and scored on Kyle deMayo’s base hit. They were held to just four more hits, two by Griffin Arnone.
“Those guys can stick the ball,” Lambert said. “We already knew it was an uphill battle coming into this. Lopez really wasn’t that bad. The first inning he was a little juiced up, he came back and made a couple of mistakes after that and then we opened the floodgates for them.”
The Rams were one of the surprise teams at midseason, but they have now lost four in a row and five of their last six.
“We are into the last two weeks with our destiny in our own hands and we were unable to do anything,” Lambert said.
Staples, in contrast, is primed to make a run at the conference championship before setting out to defend its Class LL title.
“I love the lineup, one through nine, I think we have some team speed and Harry is really like a 1A-type pitcher and then Chad and some of the other guys. I’m feeling pretty good,” McFarland said.
McFarland was referring to Chad Knight, who has pitched limited innings and is well rested. McFarland said the game plan is to start Knight in the opening game of the FCIAC Tournament and if the Wreckers should keep advancing come back with Azadian in the semifinals and Knight again in the title game.
Not surprisingly, that would make Azadian’s next start on Monday.