HARTFORD â€“ The big stage of Dunkinâ€™ Donuts Park got to Newington baseball Thursday in its loss to Wethersfield.
Playing at the 6,121-seat home of the Hartford Yard Goats proved challenging for the Norâ€™easters early as they committed two costly errors during the top of the first inning, that gave the Eagles a 2-0 start. Wethersfield did not surrender the lead for the remainder of the game on its way to the 4-2 victory.
An error from third baseman Chase Prestia and shortstop Alex Cappellucci allowed two extra Wethersfield batters to reach base, paving the way for Eaglesâ€™ Savier Page and Zach Crevier to score.
â€śThose lessons about the first inning are exactly why we signed up for this game, so that when we get in a state tournament game and the pressure is on and youâ€™re in a new environment and the crowd is going crazy, nothing bothers you,â€ť Newington coach Ben Alaimo said. â€śYouâ€™re able to make that play as routine as you would any day at your home field in practice.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a couple of younger players in the infield,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śMy shortstop is a sophomore who has been absolutely phenomenal this season.
A single from Wethersfieldâ€™s Matt Patkoske counted as the only hit of the inning for the visitors despite the two runs scored.
The Norâ€™easters followed it up at the plate by going down 1-2-3, in an inning they surely would like to have back.
â€śSometimes I think in an environment like this, a new environment--thereâ€™s no excuses, both teams had the same situation--but thereâ€™s no [pregame] infield-outfield here when you play at Yardgoats, youâ€™re not allowed to take ground balls,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śI think thatâ€™s a situation where you got to figure out a way, whether you get an I/O, whatever the situation is, youâ€™re going to have adversity and youâ€™re going to have situations you arenâ€™t used to and comfortable in and you have to find a way to overcome that and succeed in those spots.â€ť
Starter Zach Nakonechny did all that was asked of him as the senior sent 12 Eagles batters down on strikes in 6 and 1/3 innings of work. The two unearned runs in the first wound up being practically the only blemish on an otherwise fabulous performance from No. 17.
â€śWeâ€™re super proud of him, heâ€™s done a great job for us, a leader, a captain and weâ€™ll continue to ride him as far as heâ€™ll take us,â€ť Alaimo said.
Thursdayâ€™s loss makes it three straight games Newington has fallen to its rivals as it hasnâ€™t beaten Wethersfield since the 2018 season. In fact, the Norâ€™easters are 4-5 in its last nine games against the Eagles, dating back to the 2016 campaign.
Newington will look to snap the streak when the two teams meet again Monday, May, 24 at Esposito Field during the last week of the regular season.
â€śBeing in situations like [Thursday], which has a terrific tournament atmosphere, at what I think is the best facility in Connecticut, against a rival team, in a tight game is exactly what I want my kids to experience,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śCongratulations to them, itâ€™s a good win and weâ€™re looking forward to our next game and playing them down the road.â€ť
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.