WESTPORT — As Darien coach Mike Scott hustled up the stairs from the Staples baseball field use the restroom in the school before the seventh inning of his team’s 6-1 on Thursday, it was easy to wonder what his rush was.
The way the Blue Wave are playing right now, they seem to be on auto-pilot.
That of course minimizes the job that Scott has done with the team, and how his players are a reflection of the way he preaches old-school fundamentals.
Still, the Blue Wave are in such a groove right now, the coach these days can afford himself a leisurely pitstop.
“We have a great team,” said Rich Brereton, who started the day at shortstop and then came in and threw three innings of scoreless relief. “We come out and practice hard every day. We preach pitching and defense and we’re able to get clutch hits, it seems, and it has put us in a good spot so far.”
Every team in the league this year has had a misstep it seems except the Blue Wave, who are 12-2 over all, 8-2 in league play and have been a model of consistency.
“It goes back to the way these guys prepare,” Scott said. “They work their butts off in practice. They want to get better. They believe the way you practice is the way they play.”
Against a Staples team that had won three straight following a 1-6 stretch, Darien put up four runs in the first inning and coasted from there. Casey Brown had an RBI single, there was a double steal and Cord Fox hit a two-run homer.
“Every game we are able to come through with an inning or big innings and it puts us in a good position to win,” Brereton said. “We’re confident. We try to get loud, we try to get louder than our opponent. We feel that it helps us. We try to stay in the whole game. We try to win every pitch.”
Jake Geddes, part of a rotation that is much more impressive than the eye test gives it credit for, made one mistake during his four-inning outing, yielding a home run to the Wreckers’ Ben Casparius in the first.
Darien doesn’t have a pitcher who is going to break the speed gun, but the staff throws strikes and keeps hitters off stride.
“We really don’t have anyone overpowering,” Brereton said. “We don’t try to hide that, everyone knows it. We execute our pitches, stick to the gameplan and we always have our defense behind us.”
The Blue Wave don’t win glamorously, unless you are old school and appreciate the basics that remain the tenets of the sport.
While many are surprised that the Blue Wave have held the top spot in the league standings for the second straight year despite heavy graduation losses, Scott is not one of them. He knew the cards he was holding.
“We really don’t worry about it,” Scott said. “We know we are a good team, we know that we can beat good teams.”
Pitching and defense, defense and pitching. That has been Scott’s mantra.
Staples had a baserunning mistake that turned a potential rally into an inning-ending double play. When the Wreckers threatened, second baseman Matt Drake ranged up the middle to turn a base hit into a routine inning-ending out.
“These guys have been itching to get their chance,” Scott said. “They played behind a talented senior class last year and now that they’ve gotten their chance it’s nice to see them come through. They are talented ballplayers. They were playing behind talented ballplayers last year.”
The loss was a setback for the Wreckers, but they are firmly entrenched in the middle of the playoff race with almost the entire rest of the league.
Staples was the preseason favorite and now the Blue Wave have assumed that position. There are many games to be played, and favorites have fared poorly in the past.
But right now, the view from the pedestal is rather nice for Scott and his players.