Pictured: Ryan Erskine beats the tag of Hale-Ray catcher Joe Kalisz with room to spare in the second inning of Friday’s Shoreline Conference baseball game in Higganum. (Photo by Paul Augeri)
By Paul Augeri
HIGGANUM — Haddam-Killingworth right-hander Ryan Erskine was in the midst of protecting a two-run lead against Hale-Ray when his coach, Mark Brookes, made his way to the mound in the third inning.
The Noises, who pounded East Hampton pitching for 12 runs two days before, had just scored and were aiming for more. They were running on Erskine, a sophomore, as well.
“They were stealing off the pitcher, not the catcher,” Brookes said, “so we just emphasized the fact that he had to be quicker to the plate and keep the ball down and get a ground ball.”
And what do you know?
With his coach’s guidance front of mind, Erskine got Hale-Ray’s Ryan Sikorski to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. He got the next batter, Jackson Hill, to hit a roller in front of the plate for the third out.
With its 4-2 lead intact, H-K went on to bat around in an eight-run fourth and beat Hale-Ray 12-2. The Shoreline Conference game ended after the top of the fifth because of the 10-run rule.
The win was “kind of a relief,” said Brookes, whose Cougars improved to 4-2 ahead of Monday’s game against defending Class S champion Coginchaug.
“(Hale-Ray) just spanked East Hampton and I wasn’t sure what we were going to get today. Hale-Ray obviously can hit. I thought Erskine just did a good job keeping them down. And we scored a lot of runs, so it takes a lot of air out of the other team.”
Caden Civiello hit a two-run double and Alex Sheehan a two-run single in the monster fourth as the Cougars won their third straight to improve to 4-2.
Freshman left fielder Todd Butler doubled twice and singled in his three plate appearances and drove in three runs to lead H-K’s 12-hit attack.
Erskine scattered eight hits, allowed two earned runs, walked one and struck out five in his first victory of the season.
Austin Sevigny, who took the lose, drove in one of Hale-Ray’s two runs and Oliver Ross singled and doubled for the Noises (3-2).
MORE TO COME …
Hale-Ray……..001 10–2 8 1
Haddam-Kill…040 8x–12 12 0
Batteries: Hale-Ray–Austin Sevigny, Nate Parker (3) and Joe Kalisz; HK–Ryan Erskine and Nick Glynn. WP: Erskine; LP: Sevigny.