NORWALK -- After climbing back over the .500 mark on the strength of a three-game winning streak, the Norwalk Senior Legion team ran into another obstacle Monday afternoon and had no answer.
Westport left-hander Chris Speer befuddled the Norwalk bats with a mix of two- and four-seam fastballs, curveballs and changeups, and allowed just four hits over seven innings as Westport edged the defending state champions 3-2 at City Hall Field.
Speer, who was named to the All-FCIAC West team as a junior at Staples High in June, struck out seven and walked just two as Westport improved to 3-11 this summer.
"Chris Speer, let's just say that," Westport head coach Wayne Randazzo said. "He kept them off-balance."
Speer made just one mistake, leaving a fastball up in the zone on a two-run two-out home run by shortstop Leon Fleming in the fourth inning, and was otherwise brilliant. He danced around a pair of two-out infield singles in the fifth by James Welch and Mike Parlanti and retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.
"I had all my pitches working. That's something I've been working on this summer, is just throwing all of them for strikes," Speer said.
Speer's counterpart on the mound, Welch, was equally as dominant but took the hard-luck loss despite allowing just four hits on the afternoon. Welch faced the minimum through the first three innings but was touched up for a pair of runs in the fourth after delivering a two-out walk to right fielder Matt Smith.
First baseman Julian Clarke followed with a double to score Smith and make it 1-0. A throwing error one batter later allowed Clarke to score, leaving Norwalk two runs down.
"I thought he deserved better," Norwalk head coach Chris Brown said of Welch, who went the distance and struck out 10. "He threw the ball really well. He was throwing strikes and got in trouble and kept getting out. He kept battling.
"He's been that battler for us all year, even when the time's been tough on him. He still battles and never gives up."
Despite allowing just four hits and two walks, the right-handed Welch worked deep into innings on occasion as Norwalk committed three errors in the field.
"That's kind of the story of our season. Last year the story of our season was one big inning for hits. This year it's a bad inning for plays," said Brown, whose team fell to 8-8 overall. "You can't fault the kids for making a physical error. Sometimes it happens. But that was the game today."
Norwalk was free of any mistakes in the fifth inning but Westport scratched out the go-ahead run with a stolen base by Matt Campbell and a two-out single by shortstop Nick Vega to right-center field to make it 3-2.
"All we ask our guys to do is `Do what you can do.' I'm not looking for a home run in that situation," Randazzo said. "I'm looking for a base hit. Right-center field, nice piece of hitting."
In the seventh inning, Westport put runners on second and third with one out, but Welch worked out of trouble unscathed by striking out both Vega and center fielder Alex Ludel.
Ultimately that situation didn't cost Westport as Speer buckled down with the lead in hand and worked around a one-out walk in the seventh inning to close it out by striking out Welch.
"It was definitely a good turnaround game," Speer said. "Norwalk's always been a great program and it just feels really good to beat them."
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WESTPORT 3, NORWALK 2
WESTPORT 000 210 0--3 4 1
NORWALK 000 200 0--2 4 3
Records: Westport 3-11; Norwalk 8-8.
Doubles: W--Julian Clarke. Home runs: N--Leon Fleming.