Thanks to two Jonathan Law errors, the Amity baseball team was able to score a trio of unearned runs and come from behind to trip the Lawmen 4- 2 Friday afternoon in a Southern Connecticut Conference battle that was played in Milford. The beneficiary of those three unearned runs was Spartan sophomore pitcher Sam Nepiarsky who was making his varsity debut on the mound. He ended up giving up only one run on five hits. Mark Esposito came on to hurl the last two innings and earn his first save of the spring.
According to winning Coach Sal Coppola, “I thought Sam did a great job in his first varsity game. He didn’t have his best stuff but got stronger as the game went on. He ended up walking only one Law batter and striking out five.”
He added, “It was scary for a while but Vinny got us onto the scoreboard in the top of the third. Then we were able to take advantage of their mistakes to add the three unearned runs.”
The Golden Eagles jumped off to a quick 1-0 lead. Sean Cameron led off the home half of the first inning by ripping a double into the right center field gap and them coming around to score on consecutive infield outs by Dave DeRubeis and losing pitcher Matt Ferriaolo.
In the top of the second inning, Ted Ballou led off with a base hit, stole second base and then advanced over to third base when Ferriaolo walked Brian Speer and Paul Gusmano, but he survived that bases-loaded, two-out jam by retiring Chris Katz on a roller down the first base line. He wasn’t as fortunate in the top of the next inning as Vin Siena led off by lining a game-tying home run over the center field fence.
After striking out the first two Law batters in the bottom of the fourth inning, Nepiaraky served up a single to Jake Saley and then hit Joe Bloszko with a pitch. He worked out of that jam by retiring Andrew Ward on an inning-ending fly ball to center field.
Gusmano led off the top of the fifth by beating out an infield single. One out later, Ferriaolo walked, stole second base and raced over to third on a wild pitch. Siena drew a one-out walk to put runners on the corners. When Siena broke for second base, Law catcher Ward hurried his throw and it sailed into right center field. Pinch runner Niall Dammando trotted home on the errant throw by Ward. After swiping second base, Siena never stopped running and raced home with Amity’s third run.
Amity tacked on another unearned run in the top of the sixth. Brian Speer singled with one out, was wild pitched to second base, advanced to third on a muffed pick off throw by Ferriaolo and scored on Sean Butler’s sacrifice fly.
Law added its second and final tally on Max Nowicki’s two-out, bases-empty home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“It wasn’t pretty but I was glad to get our first win of the season,” Coppola said. “Pitching and defense usually wins games. Today Sam threw strikes and our defense was exceptional but we weren’t aggressive at bat, especially on first pitch fastballs in the strike zone. We also hit several balls right at people. Law’s pitcher (Ferriaolo) mixed up his pitches really well and frequently got ahead of our batters. He had us off balance and guessing. It was the exact opposite of our opening game 11-10 loss to Notre Dame. In that game, we hit the ball exceptionally well but our defense and pitching were poor.”
In addition to turning a double play in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Amity defense cut down Cameron trying to stretch his second double into a triple. The blast into right center field was quickly retrieved by center fielder Katz, who hit cut off man Nick Baviello who whipped a strike to Esposito at third base.
Cameron recorded two of the 0-2 losers’ seven hits and scored a run. Saley added a double and two singles. Every batter in Amity’s starting order except first baseman Keith Klebart recorded one of the team’s eight base hits. The 1-1 Spartans also swiped six bases.