BRISTOL - Jack Bator was stellar on the mound for the St. Paul baseball team and his teammates supported him on offense as the Falcons cruised past Seymour 5-0 on Monday afternoon at home.
“That’s a good win for us,” St. Paul coach Vic Rinaldi said. “Bator pitched a tremendous game for us. He’s been great for us all year. We’re going to need him to continue pitching like that the rest of the way.”
Bator pitched a seven-inning complete game, picking up five strikeouts and allowing five walks and just two hits. The Wildcats did not have a hit through the three innings and got their first base runner in the third inning when Austin DeRosa reached first on a dropped third strike that got away from catcher Chris Mills.
In the fourth inning, Bator ran into a jam. With two outs, He walked Christian DeJarnette, gave up a single to John Chacho and walked Tom Herrick to load the bases. But he came back to strike out Brandon Ellsworth to avoid disaster and maintain the shutout.
“He’s a senior. He understands what we need him to do and he did,” Rinaldi said of Bator. “He buckled down and he got that last out in that inning.”
Bator faced only three batters more than the minimum over the final three innings, despite walking three batters over that span. Monday’s loss was Seymour’s fifth of the season and the third time the Wildcats have been shut out.
While Bator was strong on the mound, even when Seymour made contact, it was usually swallowed up by the St. Paul defense. The left side of the Falcons infield was busy all afternoon, with shortstop Julian Thayer and third baseman Andrew Owsianko combining to at least assist on 10 outs, including two double plays and a barehanded 5-3 putout by Owsianko.
“Jack pitched a great game for us and we played great defense behind him,” Rinaldi said. “No errors in the field [and we] turned a couple of double plays behind him. I just like to see that. I like to see nice, clean baseball where we pitch well and play defense well behind him.”
With Bator and the defense taking care of the Wildcats on one side of the ball, the Falcons stepped up on offense to provide some run support. After Bator sat down the first three Seymour batters in order in the top of the first, the Falcons scratched across what ended up being the winning run.
Thayer reached on an error by the Seymour second baseman to lead off the home first and Nick Morrell hit into an error by the Wildcats shortstop to put two men on with no outs for St. Paul. Owsianko loaded the bases with a single and was followed by Ryan Greene, who hit into a controversial double play that allowed Thayer to score from third. Morrell advanced to third by the double play but was picked off by Seymour starter DeRosa on the very next play to end the inning.
Both teams were shut out in the second and Seymour in the top of the third. The Falcons came up to bat in the bottom of the third with their No. 9 hitter, Mills, due up to lead off. He got the inning going with a single and, after Thayer popped out to second, Morrell got on base for the second time by drawing a one-out walk. Owsianko recorded his second hit of the game next and then Greene drove in Mills with a single that also loaded the bases.
With two outs, Bator helped himself out by knocking in Morrell and Owsianko with a single to extend the St. Paul lead to 4-0. The Falcons got their final run of the game one batter later, when Tom Houle’s single scored Greene from second.
“We had to back [Bator] up because he was throwing with a lot of confidence [and] a lot of strikes so we just had to back him up,” Greene said about the importance of St. Paul’s offense.
St. Paul recorded five of its eight hits in the third inning and seven of eight in the first three innings.
The end of the regular season is quickly approaching but the 12-2 Falcons are feeling comfortable and confident and it showed after Monday’s win, as the players were laughing and joking around with each other as they packed up their stuff in the dugout.
“That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about [with] these guys. They’re loose,” Rinaldi said with a smile. “The younger guys, maybe [not so much], but the upperclassmen, they’re very loose. I don’t have to worry about them.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @K_baum30