Baseball Team Looks To Build Off Winning Ways As Playoffs Commence

Photo: Andy Hutchison

Connor Miller delivers a pitch during late-season action. The Nighthawks will begin the conference playoffs with a visit to Notre Dame-Fairfield on Saturday, May 24.

Newtown High School’s baseball team reeled off six straight wins heading into the May 20 regular-season finale with Notre Dame-Fairfield. The Nighthawks lost a tough 3-2, nine-inning decision to the host Lancers, but are hopeful their recent winning ways spill over into the postseason.

The Nighthawks will have a chance to avenge that setback in the first round of the South-West Conference playoffs. Newtown is scheduled to visit Notre Dame in the tournament quarterfinals at 1 pm on Saturday, May 24. The Nighthawks are the fifth seed and Notre Dame is the No. 4 team in the bracket.

“This doesn’t have to end until we want it to end,” Newtown Coach Matt Memoli said during the winning streak earlier this week. “If we don’t show up that day we’ll get beat. But if we show up and play to our potential that we have I think we can beat anyone in the SWC.”

That said, the coach knows his opposition could bring its “A” game and it certainly won’t be easy to capture the conference crown.

“Our conference is so even,” Memoli said. “It’s so evenly matched. If you take a day off, your season’s over.”

Heading into the final week of the regular slate, only two wins separated seven of the top eight teams in the SWC.

After an 0-5 start to the season, Newtown’s mostly new-look lineup has come together and become a threat to make some playoff noise. The Nighthawks improved to 11-8 overall (9-4 in the conference) with a 6-1 win over visiting Kolbe Cathedral of Bridgeport on May 19.

“Everyone’s swinging,” Memoli said of his offense, which had a pair of double-digit performances during the win streak. “Our pitchers are doing their job.”

Connor Miller was on the mound and gave Newtown its fifth straight solid pitching performance, allowing only three hits in five innings of work. Austin Raftery struck out the side in an inning of relief. The Nighthawks, this past week, blanked visiting Bethel 8-1 in a May 14 game, and toppled nonconference foe Ansonia 18-2 the next day.

In the win over Kolbe, Virgil Procaccini hit an inside-the-park homerun and drove in three, and Raftery had two hits, including a double.

Against Bethel, Pat Rowley allowed six hits in a complete game effort. Garrison Buzzanca had three hits and drove in two runs in the win. Raftery, Nick Lotrecchiano, and Jaret DeVellis all drove in a pair of runs as well.

In the win over Ansonia, Newtown jumped out to a 5-0 lead after one inning of play and put up an 11-spot in the second to put the game away. Raftery went 3-for-4, with a double and a triple, and knocked in four. Greg Hennessey also had a double and triple, and plated three runs. Charlie Huegi had a hit and two runs batted in. DeVellis had two hits, an RBI, and three runs scored, and Jack Procaccini had two hits, an RBI, and two runs scored.

Eric Pisani pitched five innings and Alex Klang tossed two against Ansonia. Pisani struck out five and allowed only an unearned run to score, and Klang allowed just one run in his two frames.

In the setback to Notre Dame, Jim Parker pitched 5 and 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs. He struck out three and walked five. Procaccini and David Matthews both had two hits and runs driven in.

Memoli is thrilled with how everybody on the team has stepped up and contributed. Kyle McGrath came into the game against Ansonia to get some time at second base, and promptly made a tumbling catch in shallow center field. Newtown sent 17players to the plate for at bats in the Ansonia game.

“It’s such a great atmosphere,” Memoli said.

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