WHPD and WHFD honored at game that saw traded leads and home runs before the eventual Hall victory
By Paul Palmer
On a perfect day for a baseball game, Hall and Conard traded leads and home runs with the Warriors taking the first head-to-head matchup of the season 7-4 at Hall High School.
After a scoreless first, Conard got on the board when Trevor Tanis drove in Tristan Baron with an RBI single to center. After another walk, Hall’s Joe Dooley induced a ground ball to shortstop to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Dooley led off with a walk, and Ixael Albino singled to left. Cole Kocienda then ripped one up the line at third that Michael Weiss knocked down and while on his knees, tagged the base for the force and threw Kocienda out at first. John Nelson followed with a grounder to third that got past Weiss extending the inning. Quinn LaRock then drove a double to right to give Hall the 2-1 lead. Later in the inning, Brian Chelli plated LaRock with single to right to make it 3-1 Hall. “We let one bad defensive inning take us out of our game today,” Conard coach Brendan Smith said after the game.
Conard responded in their half of the third when Peter Langevin singled and Jake Samela then took Dooley’s offering over the wall in dead center for a solo home run to tie the game at 3. An inning later, the Chieftains took the lead when they built a run. Jacob Morren’s high pop eluded Albino, and following a stolen base, Brendan Grady singled to left and Weiss then delivered an RBI single to left.
Hall – wearing WHPD blue uniforms- would then take control of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Dan Moleti hit his first home run as a varsity player off Weiss to tie things at 4.” That’s his first varsity homer,” said Hall head coach Nick Marsh “ He’s been doing it in batting practice.” Nelson would single, LaRock drew a walk, Lucas Pyrro came in to run for Nelson and he would score the go-ahead run. Hall pulled the double steal and the throw to get Pyrro at third went wide and he scored. Pyrro then relieved Dooley on the mound and got Conard – who was wearing red uniforms honoring the WHFD – in order. “He’s our best,” said Marsh of Dooley. “It was not his best start but he bulldogged his way through it.”
Matt Santoro took over for Weiss and struck out the first two Hall batters he faced in the bottom of the fifth. But on the second strikeout, the ball got away from the catcher Samela, allowing Tucker Redden to reach first. After a stolen base, a walk and a passed ball, Redden scored when Albino grounded to short, and managed to beat the throw to first as the Chieftains went for the inning ending double play.
A pair of walks had Pyrro in trouble in the sixth, but with two on and two out, he managed to strike out Weiss to end the threat. Hall (now 2-2) would then push across a seventh run in the bottom of the 6th and Pyrro would give up a one out walk and then a single in the top of the seventh, before getting Ryan Smith and Baron to ground back to the box for the final two outs of the game. “Pyrro is our go to guy out of the pen this year,” Marsh said of his closer.
For Conard, it was the first loss of the season (4-1), and after the game Smith praised his starting pitcher Weiss. “He asked for the ball today and I trusted him to handle the emotion of the situation. He showed up.” As for the game, Smith is hoping it is a learning experience that his team takes to heart. “I told them, if we change how we play, like we did today, we are not familiar with it and when we get away from our game, we struggle.”
The game was the inaugural First Responders Appreciation Day contest and a color guard combining the West Hartford Fire and Police Departments trooped the colors before the game. Both departments were well represented at the game, and each brought pieces of equipment to show off. Police Chief Vernon Riddick and Fire Chief Greg Priest threw out the first pitches to the Hall and Conard catchers. After the game both teams were treated to grilled burgers from the departments.
Photos from the inaugural First Responders Appreciation Day:
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