Pressure tends to find a release, either in implosion or explosion.
Under the weight of a deadline crunch, the Norwalk Senior Legion baseball team burst out at the seams last Saturday, erupting for 11 runs in two innings to keep its postseason hopes alive in a 15-6 romp over Bridgeport at City Hall Field.
"We don't succumb to pressure," said Norwalk head coach Chris Brown, whose defending state champion team improved to 13-11, two wins shy of a tournament berth with three games left in the regular season. "Every game we have a good attitude. We showed what we're capable of today."
With Bridgeport (7-17) leading 2-1 to start the bottom of the third inning, Norwalk kicked off the rally when catcher Matt Ederle tripled to bring home shortstop Gareth Fancher, who had walked and stolen a base. Run-scoring doubles by Norwalk's Spencer Jacoby and Kevin Daniele soon followed, along with RBI singles by Leon Fleming, Alex Valenzano and another hit by Ederle to cap the uprising, 8-2.
Putting up insurance in the fourth, Norwalk expanded its margin to 12-2 on hits by Fancher and Daniele.
Ederle tallied three hits on the day--two for extra bases--scoring twice and driving in two. Jacoby racked up a pair of hits, as did his replacement in center field, Miles Turner. Daniele doubled twice, scored twice, and drove in three while Fleming finished with two hits and two runs scored.
"We got on a good streak there," Brown said. "When we come out aggressive things happen."
Left-hander Mike Hughes pitched solidly for Norwalk--stumbling only late when Bridgeport touched him up for four runs in the sixth inning. Hughes allowed all six Bridgeport runs, scattering seven hits over six innings to earn the win while striking out three and walking four. He was able to surmount a spate of wildness in the second inning that saw him hit two batters and load the bases before striking out two to escape the frame unscathed.
"I had a little trouble," Hughes said. "But I just stay confident out there and try to keep ahead of the batters."
The first of four Bridgeport pitchers on the day, lefty Paulie Hernandez took the loss, permitting six hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Aside from its late rally, Bridgeport failed to find its stride after Norwalk's middle-inning surge.
"We just didn't have it today," Bridgeport head coach Jim Maszoros said. "(Norwalk) got to us and we didn't respond. We took too many pitches and came up short when we had opportunities."
With Norwalk up 11-2 in the sixth, Bridgeport belatedly made its move, getting six batters in a row on base. But after Hernandez's RBI single, Aries Meyers' bases-loaded walk and Dante Younger's single that drove in two, Bridgeport witnessed its bid fizzle out when Younger broke home from third base on a wild pickoff throw to second, only to be cut down at the plate to end the inning.
"We started to get something going," Maszoros said. "But it was too late."
Right-hander James Welch handled mop-up duties for Norwalk in the seventh, needing only six pitches to send Bridgeport on its way.
Mike Parlanti doubled in his only at-bat and scored Norwalk's final run when Turner singled up the middle in the sixth.
Garrett D. Uribe is a freelance writer from Fairfield County