Statement win or doing daily business?
Perhaps, the way the Jonathan Law baseball team dispatched Fairfield Prep, 5-0, in an SCC showdown could be considered a statement win.
But again, maybe it was just another day at the ballpark for coach Greg Simler’s Lawmen.
Kevin Johnson scattered three hits and struck out six batters in the shutout victory over Prep (14-3), the top ranked team in the state writer’s poll in Milford on May 17.
Maybe, it was a little of both.
“Since we got on the bus after Cheney Tech (a 3-2 win in Manchester) on Tuesday it’s been building to this,” Simler said after his club improved to 15-2.
“Obviously, at the beginning of the season you didn’t see this game shaping up the way it shaped up (No. 1 vs No. 11).
“I equate it to two heavyweights, two big guys going at it. We’ll enjoy this one and come back and practice for the next one.”
Johnson, who didn’t walk a batter, said, “We just really wanted to beat them. We felt like everyone’s taking us lightly.
“We wanted to show people we’re legit.”
Prep coach Rudy Mauritz was already a believer.
“They (Law) are 15-2 for a reason. The Johnson kid’s 7-0 for a reason,” he said. “He did a great job hitting his spots, getting ahead, keeping the ball down.”
Prep only had three base runners, on hits in the first, fifth and seventh innings.
“These kids come to practice and come to games knowing what they have to do,” Simler said. “Pitchers pitch to contact and let the defense make the plays. We’ve been hitting well with two outs all season.
“When he gets behind, Kevin knows he can just reach back and pitch to contact. He knows the defense can make plays. The funny thing is he made plays himself (coming off the hill to make three plays). It’s always nice to have good defense on the mound.”
Dean Lockery singled with one out in the first inning, before Johnson set down 13 batters in a row, including two fine plays on choppers up the third-base line.
Kurt Holden went back to the fence in left to catch Shawn Blake’s drive in the fourth, and Palmer at shortstop ended that frame with a stellar play on Kevin Stone’s grounder to his left.
Jake Berry had a two-out hit in the fifth inning and Stone had a hit with one out in the seventh, before Jake Rouse at third started a 5-4-3 game-ending double play turned by Rob Griswold.
Rouse singled and scored on Dillon Roche’s stinging hit to left field in the first inning.
Law added four more runs in the fourth, with Rouse’s two-out double to the fence in right-center field keying the frame. Holden and Timmy Maher had singles to ignite the rally. Jimmy Palmer tacked on an RBI double. The fifth run scored on a wild pitch.
“Jonathan Law competed hard all six and a half innings,” he said. “We didn’t. I don’t know why. The same thing happened against West Haven (an 11-2 loss). The focus just wasn’t there. The good thing (after the loss) was we bounced back and strung together (7 of 8) wins.
“Next to the (John) Amendola kid from Notre Dame of West Haven, he (Johnson) is definitely the best pitcher we’ve seen this year.”
With one out in the first, Rouse singled and Richie Dow walked with two outs off Prep right-hander John Carroll.
Dillon Rocha then ripped a hard liner that tipped off a leaping Simon Whiteman’s glove at third and carried down the left-field line for an RBI single. With Johnson keeping the Jesuits off the base paths, the Lawmen had ample opportunities to add to their lead.
After stranding Mack Taylor (single) in the second inning and Dow (single) in the third, Law put four runs on the board in the fourth.
Holden opened the frame with a single, and after Griswold was robbed of a hit on a fine catch by Prep right fielder Joey Ganim, Maher singled to bring the top of the batting order to the plate.
Carroll retired Taylor on an infield fly, but Rouse crushed a 1-0 pitch for a two-run double to deep right-center.
Palmer followed with a two-bagger up the alley to make it 4-0 and later scored on a wild pitch.
“The Rouse kid is hitting .500 and can pound the baseball all around the yard,” Mauritz said. “That gave Law the separation (1-0 to 5-0). We didn’t get to truly measure up against a team that’s good. They will do very well in the state tournament.”
Law lost to Sheehan High of Wallingford, 2-0, on May 19. Brandon Rentas allowed the Lawmen (15-3) only one hit. Richie Dow tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts, as Sheehan improved to 11-7.
Law baseball team defeated Cheney Tech of Manchester, 4-3, on May 14. Kevin Johnson knocked in three runs and Jim Palmer had an RBI single to help drop Cheney to 13-4.