STAMFORD — After losing two of its previous three games, the St. Joseph baseball team summoned its offense today in grandiose style.
The Cadets jumped out to a 9-0 lead after two innings and then put on an exclamation point with seven runs in the seventh for an 18-2 win over Westhill.
“You always want to start out and get a couple runs in the first inning,” said Stephen Paolini, the Cadets’ leadoff hitter, who set the tone with a single to start the day and finished with four hits. “It’s a big difference in the game. It’s great to just start out hot. We struggled a little yesterday, bounced back today. It was good to see everyone get in a rhythm.”
Coming off a 6-4 loss against Danbury and its No. 1 pitcher, Justin Solimine, the Cadets (6-3, 4-2 FCIAC) relied on their top resource. This was the fifth time they have scored 10 or more runs and are 4-1 in those games.
“That’s baseball sometimes. The old saying is hitting is contagious and today it was,” St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves said. “We’ve been in a situation in games like this as Westhill was and it’s no fun. I thought our kids did a good job of just piling on the runs early on to build up a lead. And this place is a really tough place to play. It’s a very offensive park. So even when it was 11-2 in the 5th I did not feel extremely comfortable. There is no lead ever safe here with that (short) fence there in rightfield.”
Luke Kirby and Carter Courbron — the No. 7 and 8 hitters — each finished with three hits and combined to drive in seven runs. Hadyn Gourley and Al Paolozzi drove in two runs apiece. The Cadets finished with 18 hits.
“Danbury was a rough one, even for me,” Paolini said. “I struggled at the plate. It was a good bounce back for the team in general. Everyone was swinging well so it will be good moving into our next game like that.”
Paolini also drove in three runs and scored three runs.
“When Paolini is going well we’re usually doing pretty good,” Chaves said. “And we got something from the bottom of the order. I think our lineup is pretty deep.”
The bats overshadowed a strong outing on the mound by Paolozzi, who threw a complete-game four-hitter against one of the league’s best offenses.
“The last four games we’ve fallen into a pattern of falling behind or giving up big innings and today continuously throughout the game it was a lot of big innings,” Westhill coach DJ Mulvany said. “You can’t do it against a good hitting team like this. We just fell way too far behind. We didn’t get anything going offensively. We have to turn the page. Yesterday we had a good win and we said you have to turn the page, you can’t savor it too long. Today, same message.”
Westhill (7-3, 3-3) was coming off a 9-8 win over Fairfield Warde. The Vikings are 3-3 in their last six games after a 4-0 start. They have allowed 46 runs in their last four games.
Matt O’Conner had two hits and an RBI for the Vikings.
Scoring runs has not been an issue for the Cadets the past two seasons. If they can continue to get quality pitching they will live up to preseason expectations and battle for league and state titles.
“Facing Solimine yesterday, that’s a tough way to start the week,” Chaves said. “We hung in there and battled tough. Sometimes you’re going to face a good pitcher. We have to try and figure out ways to win those close games right now. Obviously scoring 18 runs, you’re not going to have a tough time.”
Paolini said the Cadets feel they have underachieved so far and are ready to go on a run.
“You’ve got to live up to the expectation when you’re ranked that high and we just didn’t get out to the start that we wanted obviously,” Paolini said. “We had a good season last year. A very good start and the same thing happened in between. We just need a couple more games like this. Start out hot in the first inning, keep on adding on, adding on throughout the game.”