West Hartford’s Conard High School hosted Trumbull on Monday in the first game of the 2022 season.
By Paul Palmer
Behind strong starting pitching from senior Nick Kane and some timely hitting, the Conard Chieftains opened their 2022 baseball season with a 3-2 win over Trumbull.
Kane struck out nine batters over four innings and allowed just one baserunner to reach second base. “His stuff has always been good,” said head coach Brendan Smith of his starter. “We saw him take over a game today and set the tone.”
On offense, Conard jumped on the board on the bottom of the first inning. Peter Langevin was hit by a pitch with one out. He advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and came around to score on Kane’s RBI single.
Kane would walk the first Trumbull batter in the top of the second before striking out the side. Back on offense, Conard added to its lead in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Tristan Baron doubled down the left field line and came in to score when left fielder Jacob Morren singled to right field. “Our energy was good today,” said Smith.
Conard would make it 3-0 in the fourth and Baron would be a key part of it. With one out, Baron doubled to center. Morren followed with a bunt up the third base line that he beat out at first, and Baron went to third. A passed ball to the next hitter, Matt Santoro, allowed Baron to score and Morren to advance to second. Trumbull pitcher Matt Cummings got the final two outs of the inning with a strikeout and a fly ball to right.
The game would tighten in the top of the fifth after Kane – who was on a pitch count-was replaced by lefty Brendan Grady. The junior walked the fist two batters he faced and gave up a single to No. 9 hitter Jack Durland. Grady would then strike out Logan Huzi, but the third strike got past catcher Jake Samela, allowing a run to score.
One hitter later, a wild pitch that hit Samela in the shin guard and bounded to his left allowed a second run to score. Another walk would follow and with the count at 1-2, with runners on first and third, Grady struck out Connor Johnston to end the inning at 3-2.
“He’s a young pitcher,” said Smith of Grady. He was learning the strike zone and adjusting to it.”
In the sixth, Grady teetered on the edge again before saving himself. A pair of walks, a pair of stolen bases, and a strikeout had Trumbull sitting with runners on first and third with one out. Grady then struck out pinch hitter Colin Csizmadia, and after a steal of second put two runners in scoring position, Grady got pinch hitter Ryan Warner on a 1-2 strike to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Trumbull would go down in order and Conard had the season opening win. “This was a good, resilient win over a very good team,” Smith said.
Conard returns to the field on Friday when they face Northwest Catholic in a conference matchup. “We just have to keep it going,” Smith said when asked to look ahead to the game. “It’s a conference game, early in the season, and we know it’s going to be a battle.”
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.