Baseball: Amity gets back on track
WOODBRIDGE — The Amity baseball team is not accustomed to losing. So when the Spartans fell to Cheshire in the season opener, alarms may have gone off.
Losing seven of nine starters from last year’s team to graduation, the Spartans know there will be plenty of learning to do in 2018.
Turning to someone with varsity experience, Amity and John Lumpinski defeated Ridgefield 8-5 in an SCC-FCIAC Baseball Challenge contest Saturday afternoon in Woodbridge.
Lumpinski tossed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits, while striking out five and walking two. The junior was in command from the outset, while also using his defense to bail him out of what could have been a potential jam in the second inning.
“We worked on being aggressive hitting and pitching,” Lumpinski said. “I was able to get some first-pitch strikes and was more aggressive today. I was able to command two pitches. We played great defensively today. Our shortstop, Sebastian (Formica) did a great job. We made some big plays.”
The Spartans jumped out of the gates quickly, using small ball to take a 3-0 lead after two innings of play.
Senior Patrick Winkel was hit by a Jake Artzt pitch with one out in the first, moved to second on a wild pitch, third on a fly ball to right by John Nolan, and scored on a Ridgefield error by catcher Ben Cohen attempting to pick Quinnlan Burke off first.
Ridgefield had a chance to get on the board in the second inning when Joseph Pastore singled to center with one out, but he was easily caught stealing by Winkel. The throw by Winkel proved vital as a pair of walks followed before Lumpinski escaped by getting Alex Price on a grounder to short to end the inning.
“When you get just two or three hits in the first six innings, you are not going to win a lot of high school baseball games,” Ridgefield coach Paul Fabbri said. “We had a base- running blunder where we missed a sign. We know we are not going to steal on Pat Winkel. It was the difference between bases loaded and one out, and two on and two out. We took him (Lumpinski) off the hook.”
The Spartans capitalized on the momentum change by scoring twice in the bottom half of the second for a 3-0 advantage. With one out, Sebastian Formica singled to left and moved to second on Lumpinski’s double.
Jon McNelis reached on a bunt single to score Formica, and Jared Smith followed with another bunt single to score Lumpinski for a 3-0 advantage.
“We lost seven of nine starters from last year,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said. “Lumpinski was our number three starter last year. He was great today. He threw well. That bodes well for the rest of the season.”
Lumpinski allowed only a one-out single by Nick Cullinan in the third over the next two innings, before Amity increased its lead to 4-0 in the fourth.
With the bases loaded by way of walks, Amity’s Nolan also walked to force in Lumpinski for the 4-0 lead.
The Spartans scored three more times in the fifth for a 7-0 advantage. Cole Kuchachik started the rally with a single to left, Lumpinski walked, and with runners on the corners, a sacrifice by McNelis increased the lead to five.
Amity again had runners on the corners for Winkel, who singled to right to drive in one run. When the ball was misplayed, another run scored and Amity had a 7-0 lead.
“I thought our defense was solid,” Coppola said. “Our whole defense was good. We had good defense and good pitching. I was happy with the way we executed.”
Coppola started to empty his bench in the sixth, and the Spartans scored their final run when Zachary Cole walked with the bases loaded to force in Jack Balocca, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
Ridgefield got on the board in the seventh off Amity reliever Michael Shepa. Cullinan singled to knock in Artzt, Matt Stamatis knocked in another with a groundout, and Peter Columbia singled to get Ridgefield within 8-3.