By Emery Filmer
NEW CANAAN — The normally unselfish Andrew Casali can be forgiven if he allowed personal glory to creep into his head for a minute or two on Friday. After all, he and his New Canaan teammates were minutes away from wrapping up a 12-1 FCIAC baseball victory over Norwalk, so why not?
Casali stepped up in the bottom of the fifth after collecting a single, double and triple. He was one big fly away from hitting for the cycle. But his long drive fell about 25 feet short of the 368-foot sign in dead center and went for a double to complete a 4-for-4, 3-RBI day.
“Andrew would rather go 0-for-4 and win then go 4-for-4 and lose,” New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said after the Rams (12-2, 10-2 FCIAC) won for the eighth time in nine games.
Casali also tossed six strong innings, allowing one run, against a Norwalk team (4-11, 3-10) that lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
“Someone brought it up before I came to bat (in the fifth), so I kind of realized I had a chance (for the cycle),” Casali said. “I went up there looking for a good pitch and to drive the ball.”
Casali’s first-inning double one-hopped the ball in left-center.
“If he turns on either one, it’s gone,” Hoffman said. “I told him his last time up that I was going to send him no matter where the ball was, but he stopped at second. He has been doing this all year. Today he did it with both his bat and arm.”
Casali struck out six and walked none, allowing only a sixth-inning RBI double to Ricky Liscio (two hits). That was the lone highlight for the struggling Bears.
“We haven’t been good or lucky and that’s a deadly combination,” Norwalk coach Pete Tucci said. “In the second inning (after a leadoff single) the first two balls should have been outs. Then the floodgates opened. They got a break and took advantage.”
Two Norwalk errors led to a seven-run (all unearned) second inning that gave New Canaan a 10-0 lead. Run- scoring hits by Casali and Nick Cascione (three hits) gave the Rams a 3-0 lead after one inning. Alex Curto had two hits in the second and Grady Armhein, Casali, Brian Moran, Erik Jager and Cascione also hit safely in the inning to break it open.
Casali had an RBI triple in the third and the run-scoring double in the fifth.
“It’s tough when you make errors against us,” Hoffman said, “because the next guy is going to come up and hit the ball. We’re hitting and making all the plays right now. We’re doing everything it takes to win.” So, for the time being, call the Bears the anti-Rams.
“Right now we’re in a bad rut,” said Tucci, whose team must go 4-1 to qualify for states. “Now we’ll find out what these kids are made of.”
Emery Filmer is a correspondent
New Canaan 12, Norwalk 1
NORWALK 000 001 0—1 7 3
NEW CANAAN 371 010 0—0 4 3
Records: Norwalk 4-11, 3-10 FCIAC; New Canaan 12-2, 10-2. Batteries: N —Sean Butler (L, 2-5), Brendan Hanzlik (2), Nick Lampman (6) and Ryan Evans; NC—Andrew Casali (W, 4-0), David Giusti (7) and Casey Ouelette. Highlights: N—Ricky Liscio had two hits and one RBI, Sean Welch had a double. NC—Andrew Casali had a single, two double and triple and three RBI, and allowed one run in six innings while striking out six and walking none, Nick Cascione had three hits, Alex Curto had two hits, Brian Moran and Erik Jager had two RBI.