TRUMBULL — There was little mystery in the St. Joseph High School batting order for Rob Vallone.
The Staples pitcher has played with many of the Jesuits’ top players on the Technique Tigers summer team for the past five years.
But familiarity with a hard-hitting lineup does not necessarily equate into taming it, and Vallone had to contend with maintaining a scoreless duel with the Cadets’ Jake Amoroso through five innings on Monday though runners had reached base in the first four.
While Vallone got support behind him, especially from middle infielders Sam Ellinwood and Nick Vega, the Cadets committed three errors in the final two innings, when the Wreckers did all of their scoring in a 5-0 victory, their seventh in a row.
Vallone threw a complete-game two-hitter. He walked three and had no strikeouts.
“This was all on the defense,” Vallone said. “I didn’t have my swing-and-miss stuff. Every ball was put in play and the defense made every play. This is all on the team. I didn’t do anything but go along for the ride.”
While pitching and defense have remained season-long constants, the Wreckers’ current streak has seen a number of different players producing clutch hits.
On Monday it was Bryan Porter’s turn. After the Cadets made consecutive one-out errors in the sixth, Porter came through with a two-run single to center.
Staples completed its scoring in the seventh, including run-scoring singles by Noah Yokoi, who had another three-hit game, and Ben Casparius, who added two hits.
“Every game it has been someone different coming through,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said. “We are not just depending on one or two guys.”
With two weeks left in the regular season, Staples (13-3, 12-2 FCIAC) maintained a one and one-half game lead over Fairfield Warde and Darien, who both won on Monday, for first place in the league standings.
The Cadets (8-6, 8-4), who started the day in fourth place, dipped to three games behind in the loss column, though the way this season has evolved the seedings are starting to look more and more irrelevant because of the parity.
Amoroso gave up nine hits but pitched well for the Cadets and was deserving of a better fate.
“I thought we had the opportunity to score early on but we couldn’t get the big hit,” St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves said. “Jake had some great stuff. As the game went on I thought it was going to be a 1-0, 2-0 game, and we just imploded defensively in the sixth and seventh. They made every routine play and we didn’t and that was the difference in the game.”
Vallone said the early battle with Amoroso helped sharpen his focus.
“I love it. It really gets you into the game more. It’s a lot more fun pitching in a 0-0 game in the fifth than a 10-0 game,” Vallone said. “St. Joseph is probably one of the best offenses in the league. I knew they were going to put the bat on the ball. They don’t strike out, I will tell you that.”
McFarland said Vallone gutted out the early going before settling into a groove.
“Robbie was a little rocky there in the beginning,” McFarland said. “When he had to, he made the big pitch. Our team came here and played great defense. They blinked a little bit and Bryan came up with the big hit.”
Vallone said the outcome would make it a little easier to resume his friendship with the St. Joseph players.
“I don’t talk to the enemy before the game,” he said. “I talk to them afterwards. It is a lot better when you win.”