In all high school games, there are good losses and bad losses.
Foran High baseball coach Garrett Walker was okay on Monday with the Lions’ 2-1 Southern Connecticut Conference home-field loss to Shelton High.
Trailing 2-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning at Ken Walker Field, Foran loaded the bases with the tying run 90 feet away and the game-ending run 180 feet away. The Lions were unable to finish and saw their record drop to 1-6.
“It’s a tough loss, there’s no question about it,” Walker said. “But I’m proud of these guys today because they competed. We gave ourselves a chance to win. That hasn’t been happening as much as I’d like to see lately.”
Playing their fifth game in six days didn’t help either. The Lions were blanked by Branford, 10-0, on Saturday. That came one day after a 10-2 loss to Xavier of Middletown and two days before that, Foran was trimmed by Hamden, 13-6. The Lions had opened last week with an 8-3 victory over Law.
Scoring runs has been the team’s biggest problem. In five of the six losses, Foran scored two runs or less.
“Offensively, we’ve struggled,” Walker said.
Each team left 10 runners on base in Monday’s game, where Shelton struck first by grabbing a 1-0 lead in the first on just one hit.
David Wells led off the game with an infield single and was promptly sacrificed to second by Will Ciccone. Wells moved up a base to third on David Payne’s wild pitch and scored when Matt Hunyadi lifted a sacrifice fly to left.
Over the next four innings, the Gaels, who now have a 3-3 record, left two runners on base in each frame.
Foran drew even in the fifth on Justin Lanese’s RBI single to left, which scored Tyler Heenan who had drawn a walk off of Shelton’s starting and winning pitcher Carl Kopf.
Following the hit, Kopf was removed and replaced by Jafar Vohra, who quickly ended Foran’s rally by getting Payne on a fly ball to left. The Lions left runners on second and third.
Payne, who struck out six and walked six while throwing 118 pitches, worked into the sixth.
He allowed a walk to Ryan Murphy to start the inning before Murphy stole second. After getting the next two batters, Arlind Hima and Nick Walsh out, Wells came up and lined a single to left, scoring Murphy with the go-ahead run.
After walking Ciccone, Walker took Payne out, replacing him with Cody Hennequin who struck out Hunyadi swinging to end the inning.
Mark Wootten began the seventh with an infield single and Brett Huber moved him up a base with a sacrifice. It was the last batter Vohra would face.
Shelton coach Scott Gura brought in Trey McLoughlin, who walked Justin Lanese on a 3-2 pitch. Payne struck out swinging, creating the second out, but Angelo Simonelli drew a walk to load the bases. That brought John Licktieg to the plate. He had singled in his last at-bat, but this time he took a called third strike ending the game.
“We’re not a big offensive team,” Gura said. “So we’re going to have to win games like this with pitching. Carl worked well enough to get the win. Trey only needed 25 pitches, which is what he normally throws on an off-day. Our problem today was we squandered way too many scoring chances. It’s been an alarming pattern so far this year.”
Foran collected seven hits off of Shelton’s three pitchers. Wootten and Kevin Lanese had two hits each.