Baseball

Morin, Gonzalez Combine To Help Norwalk End Staples’ 16-Game Win Streak

Norwalk shortstop Javi Gonzalez dives for a ground ball. Gonzalez hit a two-run triple and got the save for the Bears. (Mark Conrad)

NORWALK — After combining on a five-hitter against the No. 1 team in the state, Norwalk’s Alistair Morin, who went the first six innings, and Javi Gonzalez, who closed, spoke of the need to be aggressive and not back down from an intimidating opponent.

The mindset — and execution — were in sync and paid off. Morin overcame allowing two runs in the first inning with a gritty performance and Gonzalez had a key two-run triple in a 5-3 home win over Staples. The loss ended the Wreckers’ 16-game winning streak, dating back due to the COVID-19 pandemic to May 8, 2019, a 14-0 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe.

“This is huge,” said Morin, who threw 104 pitches, with six strikeouts and three walks. “There was a lot of energy and a lot of intensity. Nobody outside of Norwalk thought we were going to win this game. We went out there and earned it.”

Morin stranded seven runners and was helped by a great catch to deep leftfield in the fifth inning, with two runners on, by Ethan Platt.

“Going against these guys, it was just honestly going straight at them,” Morin said. “I watched their film yesterday and I knew I had to trust in my defense and throw strikes. I had a little bit of a rocky first inning and after that settled down and focused in. The gameplan today over all was just to go out and win.”

Norwalk leftfielder Ethan Platt catches a long fly ball to rob Matt Spada of an extra-base hit. (Mark Conrad)

A two-run triple by Gonzalez followed by Eddy Garabito-Soto’s double in the bottom of the fourth inning erased a 3-0 deficit and tied the score. Platt’s double in the fifth broke the tie and drove in what proved to be the winning run. Platt scored on a fielder’s choice.

“We told them after the first inning, they didn’t hit the ball for runs, we made a couple of mistakes, we walked a couple of guys, they capitalized on some questionable calls out there. Lets just grind it out,” said Ryan Mitchell, the Bears’ first-year coach.”

Cam Manna had two hits and an RBI for the Wreckers (5-0). Spada did not pitch terribly but was not sharp, allowing seven hits, with four strikeouts and four walks, over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Kennedy and Adam Burks did not allow a hit in relief.

Staples’ Matt Spada delivers a pitch. (Mark Conrad)

“We told the teams the best teams are the ones that cut off the losing streaks right away,” said Staples coach Jack McFarland. The Wreckers host Danbury tomorrow. “We’re going to have fun.”

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McFarland knew the streak would end at some point, he just wished it was on a day his team performed better.

“Our lineup really didn’t show up today,” McFarland said. “A couple of good swings, their leftfielder made a great catch that would have changed the game. I thought our pitching was good, their kid threw a real nice game. It was good baseball.”

The Bears won for the third time in four games to improve to 4-2 heading into a game tomorrow at Darien.

Norwalk’s Eddy Garabito-Soto struggles with the wind but catches a fly ball. (Mark Conrad)

“We settled down after the first inning and just focused in,” Morin said. “We knew there was no way we were losing that game. I trusted my offense, I trusted my defense. I trusted myself.”

Most impressive for Norwalk’s long-term was how they handled the outcome. There was just a slightly more demonstrative celebration than usual, but there was no racing the mound. Afterward the Bears were confident but not cocky.

“What can’t you say about Staples,” Mitchell said. “They’re the premier program in the state. Very well-coached, very well-prepared. A lot of talent over there but we feel like we have a lot of talent here. If we can put a performance like this and kind of stack one on top of another. It’s a great team win but it’s just one win. We’ve got to get Darien tomorrow.”