It was a battle of two West Hartford teams Wednesday at Hall High School.
By Paul Palmer
Chase Hanawalt’s junior season has been a microcosm of the year for the entire Hall baseball team. The right-hander gritted it out against Northwest Catholic going six innings, striking out five, and throwing 89 pitches in the 5-2 win. Hall moved to 5-10 on the season with a lineup that lost 13 players from a year ago and has only three seniors on its roster.
Hanawalt is coming off shoulder surgery and his 89-pitch outing was his longest of the season. “He battled through today,” said head coach Nick Marsh of his pitcher.
Hanawalt also contributed from the plate, driving in the Titans’ first run on a fielder’s choice, walking and coming around to score later in the game, and smacking a deep double in the sixth that drove in another run. The Lions (4-11) had runners on second and third with one out in the opening inning before Hanawalt struck out the final two batters. In the bottom of the first, Tyler Redden and Jack Hebert singled before Hanawalt drove Redden in from third with a fielder’s choice.
In the third, Northwest Catholic managed four consecutive singles to score its first of the game when Benjamin Hall drove in pitcher James Berry. Once again, Hanawalt buckled down and struck out two of the next three and got a harmless flyout to right field to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, Hanawalt reached on an error to lead things off for Hall before stealing second. Quinn LaRock laid down a bunt, but the throw was offline to Berry to Danny Burgeson who came over from second to cover, allowing Hanawalt to score. LaRock stole second base and moved to third on fielder’s choice before scoring on a wild pitch to make it 3-1 Hall.
“We are doing whatever it takes to score runs,” Marsh said of his team. “We work to take advantage of any chances we get.”
Hanawalt entered the sixth having thrown 76 pitches and got Jonah Balcerzak to line out before Tristan Hong doubled. Hanawalt then induced a pair of infield groundouts to end the inning and close out his day on the mound.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Titans pushed across two more runs. Timothy Baumer reached on a walk and came around to score two batters later on a Redden single. With two outs and two on, Hanawalt drilled a long fly ball to the wall in center field. Redden scored, but Hanawalt was cut down trying to stretch his double into a triple.
Owen Ludgin came on in the seventh and gave up a single to Berry and walked Hong before John Flammini followed with a single to center. Berry scored when the ball was bobbled in center field. With two on and no one out, Ludgin induced the 4-6-3 double play ball and then got the game’s final batter to ground out third to first to secure the 5-2 win for Hall.
On the day, Redden reached base three times with a pair of singles and a hit by pitch. Northwest was led by Hong who had a pair of singles, a walk, and a hit by pitch and by Berry with a double, two singles, and a walk.
The win snaps a three game losing streak for Hall, and Marsh said his team has been taking the season as a lesson. “We talk about having a short memory. We have one of the toughest schedules in the state and play three of the state’s top five teams in our next three games. It will make us better in the future.”
Hall will nextmeet St. Paul Catholic at Dunkin’ Park in Hartford on Friday. That game begins at 6:30 p.m.
Northwest Catholic will host Glastonbury on Monday, May 15, at 3:45 p.m.
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