Pictured: Valley Regional showed again Wednesday that it’s a factor in the Shoreline Conference race with its sixth win of the young season, 3-0 over Old Lyme.
By Marc Silvestrini
DEEP RIVER — The term “bulldog,” at least when it’s used as a baseball metaphor, generally refers to a player who is tenacious, resolute and hard to discourage.
It’s actually a pretty good description of Valley Regional sophomore right-hander Colin Carver, who kept pitching his way in and out of trouble Wednesday while refusing to wilt in leading the Warriors to a 3-0 win over Old Lyme.
The Shoreline Conference victory improves the Warriors’ record to 6-2 while dropping the Wildcats, who had won three of their last five going in, to 3-6.
In three of the six innings he pitched, Carver allowed the first two Wildcat batters to reach base safely, yet no one scored in any of those three frames. In another inning, the Old Lyme sixth, he surrendered two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out and the top of the Wildcat order coming to the plate, but again closed the door without allowing a run to cross the plate.
“I really bear down a lot when I get into trouble,” said Carver, a hard thrower who thought his changeup was his best pitch Wednesday. “I get 100 percent focused, right on my catcher.”
In all, Carver yielded six hits over six scoreless innings of work, fanning seven and walking five, to earn his second win of the year. Henry Breckenfeld, a fellow sophomore, pitched a hitless seventh inning for the save.
“We were pretty aggressive with the bats today, even though we didn’t get a lot of hits,” Valley coach Brian Drinkard said.
“We’re still a young team,” he added, noting that Wednesday’s starting lineup featured five sophomores, “but we’re playing pretty good right now. What I really like is that we’re playing together as a team, and when a team starts pulling together and gets on a roll there’s no telling what can happen.”
After two scoreless innings, sophomore second baseman Brayden Sparaco, who helped Carver get out of at least two jams by making spectacular defensive plays, drew a walk leading off the Valley third against Wildcat starter Riley-John Warecke.
Andrew Salbinski drew another walk and, after one out, a double steal put Warriors at second and third. Valley cleanup hitter Kyle Metz then ripped a hard, fielder’s choice grounder to first as Sparaco broke for the plate.
Sparaco beat the throw home to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead and Salbinski crossed the plate moments later on a grounder to short off the bat of Sam Helsel to give Valley a 2-zip lead without the benefit of a hit in the inning.
Valley would score the game’s final run an inning later when Sam Hutchinson, another sophomore, blasted a two-out triple to the base of the center field fence, about 390 feet from home plate. Hutchinson then sprinted home when the relay to third sailed over the head of third baseman Colbe Andrews.
Warecke, a junior righty, gave Old Lyme a strong effort, allowing three runs, only two of which were earned, and five hits over six innings of work. He struck out six and walked three.
“I thought he (Warecke) did a great job today, we’re just not getting the timely hit when we really need it,” Old Lyme coach Randy St. Germain said. “I thought we actually hit the ball pretty well today – we made some solid contact – but they’re just not falling in for us when we get the chance to score some runs.
“We had our opportunities today; we swung the bats pretty good and got some guys on base. But we could never get that key hit that could have changed the game.”
Warecke paced the Old Lyme attack with a pair of base hits. The Wildcats, who outhit Valley 6-5, also got singles from Alex Roth, Casey Hurtgen, Jaden Reyes and Jesper Silberberg.
Catcher Mason Erwin, yup, another sophomore, led the Valley attack with a pair of singles while Sparaco, besides his outstanding defense at second, provided a hit, a run scored and three steals for the Warriors. Carver and Hutchinson had the other Valley hits while Metz and Helsel each had an RBI.
Valley is scheduled to play at East Hampton on Thursday before returning home on Friday to host Hale Ray (also a 3:45 first pitch). Old Lyme travels to Cromwell on Friday for a 4 p.m. game.
OL 000 000 0–0 6 1
VR 002 100 x–3 5 1
Pitchers: OL–Warecke; VR–Carver, Breckenfeld (7). WP: Carver; LP: Warecke. 3B: VR-Hutchinson. Records: OL 3-6; Valley Regional 6-2.