WESTPORT — The way Drew Rogers saw it, he and the other members of the Staples baseball team, after committing six errors, owed one to starting pitcher Chad Knight.
So after Knight was intentionally walked with two outs and stole second, Rogers took it upon himself to square the books. Rogers hit a single into left and Knight, whose speed is the most underappreciated part of his game, raced home and beat the throw for a 7-6 win over Brien McMahon this afternoon.
“I honestly just wanted to pick up Chad,” said Rogers. “He was working so hard on the mound and we weren’t doing anything for him. When he got on and stole second I really wanted to come up big for him and I’m happy I did.”
The Wreckers (11-1, 8-0 FCIAC) overcame a 3-0 deficit before coming to bat to win their eighth straight game and remain the only unbeaten team in league play.
“We didn’t really catch the baseball and our motto is 21 outs,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said. “When you make it 26 or 27 it’s going to be a game like this.”
McFarland was not around to see his players rally from their second deficit. He was ejected in the fifth inning for questioning a call at first base in which the runner appeared to be safe.
Staples overcame its early deficit with three runs in the second and took a 5-3 lead in the fourth, only to see the Senators (6-6, 3-5) go back ahead with three more runs against Knight in the fifth.
While Knight wasn’t particularly sharp — he gave up seven hits over 6 1/3 innings — he had to work overtime because of the defense. Only one of the six runs was earned.
“McMahon put up some hell of a fight today,” Knight said. “They are a really well-coached team. They put the bat on the ball. I may not have had my best stuff today. They’re a great team. One through nine they wouldn’t give away a single at bat. I’ve played in the infield before and made my share of errors. That’s part of the game. Errors happen. Baseball is all about how you get around those errors and how you win as a team.”
Knight homered in the fourth and was walked three times in five trips to the plate. He left McMahon coach John Cross with a dilemma in the 7th — Knight has not been thrown out stealing this season.
“The great thing about this team is the community really invests in baseball and I have some really experienced baseball guys,” McFarland said. “There’s no panic. They make all the right moves. It comes down to two great senior captains, Drew and Chad. The danger of walking Chad is he’s nine for nine in stolen bases. He doesn’t have a bad part of his game. That’s why we bat him leadoff. Walk him, good, but high school pitchers don’t like traffic on the bases. It’s hard. It is the right thing to do to walk him but he scored the winning run. He’s lethal.”
— Dave Ruden (@DaveRuden) April 27, 2019
Harry Azadian hit a two-run homer for the Wreckers and along with Rogers finished with two hits. Rogers tripled but drove in two other runs when he was walked and hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Alex Deutsch came on in relief and got the win for Staples.
Korey Morton and Jack Fitzpatrick each had two hits for the Senators. Five different players drove in runs, led by Shane Popkins with two.
The Senators played three of the league’s best teams this week, starting with a win against Ridgefield that was followed by a loss to Danbury.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Cross said. “We had a really tough stretch. We could have won this game. Tough way to lose but that goes to show you how really good players can change things up. We came into the game with a gameplan we were not going to let Chad beat us. He had the home run. Credit to him stealing the base and the next guy coming up getting the base hit.”
McMahon is positioned to get a few wins this week and readying itself to make a late push for a league playoff spot.
“That’s one thing I say to my guys, you use experiences like this to build off of,” Cross said. “We’re not afraid of anybody. We can go up against any of the best teams in the league and we can compete with them. What we have to do with the rest of the season is go in with some good intensity and be ready to play every day. You can’t have an off day in this league. You’re going to get bit by someone.”