NEWINGTON - The Newington baseball team wanted to send its seven senior out on a high note in their final home game.
And the Indians did just that with a commanding 9-1 victory over a stacked Goodwin Tech roster Wednesday afternoon.
Newington was led by a strong performance from the mound by Jack Kelley. The right-hander went six innings, gave up just one run and four hits while striking out six Gladiators.
“I started out shaky, giving up the home run, which kind of sucked,” Kelley said. “But I had to come back, gather myself and just focus on hitting my spots and trusting my defense to make plays and get outs.”
The only bad pitch Kelley made all game was to Goodwin Tech’s Paul Prior in the first inning. Kelley put a fastball in the middle of the plate, which Prior belted over the right-center field wall for a home run for the Gladiators’ only run of the game.
Newington head coach Ben Alaimo was proud of Kelley for his ability to fight back after giving up the early run, hinting that most high school pitchers would fold over after giving up a home run like that.
“After giving up the home run he was able to put together four 1-2-3 innings and allowed us to do what we needed to do offensively,” the head coach said.
Goodwin Tech, meanwhile, couldn’t seem to get anything going. Even star pitcher/infielder Tom Hughes had a rough game, going 0-for-3 from the plate and struggling to get through four innings from the mound.
Hughes struggled to get command of the strike zone Wednesday, getting first-pitch strikes on just nine of the 26 batters he faced. The Indians took advantage, forcing Hughes to throw 112 pitches through the four innings. The Gladiator ended up with six walks in the start.
“I wasn’t locating my fastball,” Hughes said of his wildness. “Typically I have better control with it. I’m normally good at painting the inside corner, but that’s a team [Newington] that likes to sit right on the plate. They were painting the chalk, so it made it a little difficult to get strikes sometimes.”
Newington senior Cooper Johnson said his team was up to the challenge of facing Hughes, as he believes the team is at its best when they face the best.
“We’ve faced everybody’s No. 1 like Tim Blaisedale from Wethersfield, [Will] Homar from New Britain twice and now Tommy,” Johnson said. “So we’ve developed this mindset that we want to face the best.”
The Indians saw production from up and down the order, with each of the nine starters getting on base at least once. First baseman Jay Veraneau was a big part of that offense in the cleanup spot. The senior got on base three times, including a two-run single in the first inning to put Newington up for good.
Gunnar Johnson than hit a two-run single in the second and Kelley helped his own cause with a two-run single of his own in the fourth.
Alaimo was happy that the team picked up the win on Senior Day, a day that Alaimo described as “one of the most important” wins of the season to celebrate the senior class.
Despite the loss, Goodwin Tech head coach Joe Granja is still confident in his team’s ability to make a run in the state tournament.
“We finish up [Thursday] night and we just have to put this one behind us,” Granja said. “I like the way our team looks and how we play. We are going to fight all the time. Our guys are never going to give up. We have a few miscues to clean up.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org