Chargers rolling toward postseason

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Ryan O’Connor (above) scored on a fielder’s choice from Sean Bonaparte to help Ansonia High defeat Woodland. (Ken Morse photo)

The Ansonia High baseball team has found a way to win 10 times in its last 11 games. Every team gets hot once in a while, but what coach Mike Vacca’s Chargers have done recently has turned heads completely around.

Ansonia (11-6) is on a five-game winning streak with three being walk-off victories, and most have come when it scores more runs than hits.

Last Friday unbeaten Wolcott High (15-0) felt the wrath of the Chargers, losing for the first time this season when Ansonia plated the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh in a 6-5 victory.

Ansonia managed just three hits but built a 5-1 lead. Corey Dzienkiewicz held Wolcott in check through the first four innings until the Eagles erupted for three runs in the fifth to tie the game at 5.

Sean Bonaparte slammed the door with two shutout innings of relief.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ansonia loaded the bases with one out and Darwin Elias walked on four pitches to chase home Larry Cafaro with the game-winning run.

“I’ve been saying it all year, this team can play defense and we have outstanding pitching,” Vacca said.

“We are not consistent with our hitting, but the hits we do get, we make them count.”

On Monday at Nolan Field, the Chargers were at it again.

Left-hander Adam Thayer took the hill and scattered five hits and struck out seven in a complete game 4-2 win over Woodland High (6-11).

Ansonia managed six hits against Tanner Kingsley, but they were both timely and effective in producing just enough runs to pull out another victory.

The Chargers jumped ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the third after Thayer set down the first nine batters he faced.

Dzienkiewicz drew a walk and pinch runner Andrew Godfrey took over on the base paths. Louis Nicoletti singled and a double steal had runners at second and third with no outs.

Bonaparte grounded into an out that brought home the run, before Kingsley recovered to end the threat.

Elias singled in the fourth and went to second when Matt Simon grounded out. A passed ball got the runner to third and Thayer knocked in the run on a sacrifice fly to center for a 2-0 advantage.

Woodland closed the gap when Sam Merriman bunted for a hit and Mike Kenney singled to right.

An error in the outfield gave the runners the extra base at second and third. Thayer struck out two batters in between a Nick Brown groundout that made it a 2-1 game.

Ryan O’Connor got the biggest hit of the game when he busted a triple in the gap that got by the outfielders in the bottom of the fifth.

Bonaparte bounced to second and O’Connor beat the throw to the plate to open a 3-1 cushion.

“I just tried to go with the pitch,” O’Connor said. “When I saw it go through the gap I knew I had a chance for extra bases.

“We always seem to come up with that timely hit that gets us over the hump. But, we are going to need to string together some hits to take the pressure off.”

The Hawks closed the gap again in the sixth.

Thayer struck out the first two batters he faced and then Dave Uhl punched a bloop single to left. Merriman singled in the run to make it a 3-2 game.

Ansonia had one more big hit left in its bag.

Matt Pitney singled and proceeded to steal second and third, but was thrown out at the plate on a passed ball. Thayer reached on an error, before Dzienkiewicz planted one at the base of the left-field fence for a run-scoring double to plate pinch runner Cafaro for a 4-2 advantage.

“He jammed me with a few pitches,” Dzienkiewicz said. “Then I got around on a pitch and drove it real good. We just seem to be finding the spots in timely situations.”

There would be no more Woodland rallies, as Thayer induced two groundouts to Bobby Schyver at shortstop and a comebacker to the mound to close out the win.

Ansonia closes out the regular season this week with Kennedy on Tuesday, a trip to Derby High (9-8) this afternoon, and a game at Muzzy Field with St. Paul of Bristol (14-4) on Thursday.

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