By Kim J. Harmon
By Kim J. Harmon
TRUMBULL â It was slipping away.
Leading 4-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Newtown High School baseball team saw its first win of the season about to slip off the precipice after St. Josephâs of Trumbull â on just one out â loaded the bases with three consecutive singles and then scored on an error.
But Ron Isler â who pitched so brilliantly in a loss to Immaculate last Friday â struck out the leadoff hitter, Ralabate, and then, on a 2-1 slider, snared a hard smash back to the box to stop the rally and help lead the Nighthawks to their first win of 2003.
Pretty much speaking for the entire team, a primal shout of exultation exploded from his mouth.
âRon pitched his arm off,â said first-year head coach Carl Strait. âHe had real good command of his stuff and did everything you could ask for.â
The âHawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and needed just one hit â that by Isler â to do it. After Pat McCarthy reached on an error, Isler singled and Ben Bagaglio and Ron Shimko walked. McCarthy, Isler and Bagaglio ran around the bases and scored off wild pitches and passed balls as the St. Joseph pitcher struggled to find the plate.
The âHawks took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Oggeri â who had walked with one out â scored.
St. Josephâs didnât scratch out a run off Isler until the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and an error.
âI think weâre starting to come together as a team,â said coach Strait. âWeâre starting to jell and going from a group of individuals to more of a family. Weâre benefiting a lot from good pitching.â
Like the effort Isler put in last Friday against Immaculate, where the âHawks put together perhaps their finest performance of the year in a 2-1 loss. Isler scattered eight hits over six innings of work, walking two and striking out three. He allowed both runs in the bottom of the fourth on a walk and a pair of doubles.
âA loss is a loss,â said coach Strait, âbut that was the first time we really competed. They took away more from that game than they could have from a win against another team.â
Against St. Josephâs, Joe DeFeo was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles while Greg Britton, Ron Shimko and Isler collected singles. Against Immaculate, Isler was 3-for-4 and Oggeri was 2-for-2 while McCarthy and Ted Rocca rapped out base hits.
It was Roccaâs sinking line drive in the bottom of the second inning, with the bases loaded, that could have changed the whole complexion of the game had Zach Long not made a spectacular diving catch in leftfield.