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Baseball Team Continues Win Streak With Shutouts



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STRATFORD — Newtown High School’s baseball team extended its winning streak to 11 games, highlighted by three consecutive shutouts. One trend spilled over into the next, beginning with the team’s fourth consecutive nine-run performance, a 9-0 blanking of Notre Dame-Fairfield on April 29.

The offensive outbursts gave way to light’s-out pitching as Newtown blanked visiting New Fairfield 1-0 at Fairfield Hills on May 1, then went to Penders Field in Stratford and shut out the host Red Devils 5-0 on May 3. The Nighthawks then got back to their slugging ways in a 10-4 triumph over Weston on May 6.

Newtown improved to 13-1 overall and 9-0 in South-West Conference play.

Against New Fairfield, Josh Taylor pitched a two-hitter, striking out nine and walking just two. Taylor helped his own cause with the game’s lone run batted in — a fourth-inning RBI double to bring home Todd Petersen, who had also doubled.

Petersen had two of Newtown’s five hits, Shane Demers doubled, and Sammy Smith had a single. New Fairfield pitcher Jake Smith struck out six and did not walk a batter but Taylor had the edge in this nail-biter.

The Stratford game, originally to have been played at NHS, was moved to the artificial turf Penders venue due to rain. Newtown still batted second as the home team. After losing a home game, the Nighthawks gained one when the next contest was moved from Weston to NHS.

Against Stratford, Newtown’s Smith took the mound and nearly went the distance, going 6.2 innings, allowing three hits, three walks, and striking out three.

“Since my off-speed pitch wasn’t there, I just tried to locate it to set up my fastball,” Smith said.

Smith gave way to Connor Haywood who inherited a bases-loaded jam and preserved the shutout with a strikeout.

“I prefer starting, but there’s nothing like coming in when the pressure’s on you,” Haywood said.

Newtown put three runs up on the board in the first inning. Smith singled, and Demers walked before an error allowed the first run to score. Haywood followed with an RBI single, and Matt Bradbury had a run-scoring single of his own.

The Nighthawks manufactured a run with small ball in the second as Tyler Stroili walked, stole second, advanced to third with heads up base running on a ground out to shortstop, and scored on a wild pitch.

In the fourth, another free pass to Stroili led to a run. After stealing second base, Stroili was tagged out attempting to advance to third on a grounder by Petersen. But Petersen reached on the fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored on Taylor’s two-out single. Demers reached on an infield single, but Luke Melillo’s bid for extra bases, and extra runs, was tracked down by Stratford’s left fielder to end the frame.

Demers had two of Newtown’s seven hits. The ten hits between the teams were all singles.

Defensive highlights included a double play started by shortstop Petersen in the second, Melillo’s nice running catch in deep center field in the fourth, and Taylor’s snare at third base and long throw across the diamond for an out in the fifth.

The Nighthawks jumped on Weston pitching to the tune of five runs in the first inning before the Trojans bounced back with a four-spot in the bottom half of the opening frame. Newtown added two in the second and three in the fifth.

Haywood shook off the first-inning troubles and went the distance with six straight shutout frames. All told, he allowed six hits, walked two, and struck out eight.

Every Nighthawk had at least one hit, and the Hawks accumulated 15 base hits. Bradbury had three hits, an RBI, and two runs scored; Petersen doubled twice, drove in a run, and scored twice; Harry Lucas had a double, two RBI, and run scored; Melillo had two hits, including a double, an RBI, and run scored; Taylor had two hits, including a double, two RBI, and a run scored; Stroili recorded two hits and a pair of runs batted in; Haywood had a hit, RBI, and two runs scored; and Smith doubled and scored a run; and Demers had a hit and run scored.

Newtown remains the only team unbeaten in SWC action. New Milford (8-1) and Masuk of Monroe (7-1) are Newtown’s closest competitors in the conference standings, and both remain on the schedule. After a game with Bunnell of Stratford on Wednesday (6 pm at Fairfield Hills), the Nighthawks visit Masuk on Friday, May 10, at 4 pm. They have a potentially challenging nonconference game with Glastonbury (which has just two defeats) on Saturday, May 11, at 1:30. NHS visits rival Bethel (11-4, 5-3), in a rematch of the last two SWC title games, on Monday, May 13, at 4:15 pm. Newtown and Bethel have had walk-off dramatics in four consecutive regular-season tilts. NHS visits New Milford on Tuesday, May 14, at 4:15, and closes out the regular slate the next day with a visit to out-of-conference team Seymour at 4:15.

After this very busy conclusion to the regular season, the SWC playoffs are scheduled to begin with quarterfinal-round action on Saturday, May 18. The semifinals are on May 20, and the championship game is on May 22.

Newtown’s winning ways are a product of talent, work ethic, and desire to succeed.

“They’re hungry; they want it, and they’re never satisfied,” said Newtown Coach Ian Thoesen, whose team graduated a bulk of its starting lineup from last year’s South-West Conference runners-up to Bethel but has players back in the fold who tasted the success and near championship run.

Second baseman Michael Cotton throws the ball to first for an out during Newtown's win over Stratford on May 3. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Todd Petersen throws across the infield after fielding a grounder to his shortstop position. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Tyler Stroili hustles back to first after a fly ball on a steal attempt. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Todd Petersen takes his lead off second base. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

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