Naugatuck tops Woodland as Greyhounds stay hot
BEACON FALLS — It’s no secret that the Naugatuck and Woodland boys don’t particularly like each other when they get together on the playing field. That was the case again last Thursday on the Hawks’ baseball diamond, but the ‘Hounds came away with the bragging rights.
Naugy plated four runs in the first three innings and Spencer Dreher chucked four scoreless innings as the Greyhounds won their fifth game in a row by a 6-1 count over the Hawks.
“Our dugout has been lacking intensity the first few games, but this being Woodland really fired us up,” Dreher said. “The rivalry really brought up the intensity today.”
Dreher was the day’s star on the mound and at the dish. He enjoyed a 3-for-3 day at the plate with two RBI and two runs while he shut down opposing batters for four innings. Dreher allowed just three hits with two strikeouts and three walks in leading Naugatuck to its fifth straight win.
He also drove in the afternoon’s first run in the top of the first. After Kyle Plasky drilled a one-out single up the middle and made his way to third, Dreher blooped a 3-2 offering by Tanner Kingsley into left field for a 1-0 lead. The hit came one pitch after Dreher took a fastball just off the plate.
“I think I got a lot of second chances at the plate,” Dreher admitted. “I took advantage of the second opportunities. Tanner has been one of the best pitchers in the NVL for the last few years, so that felt good.”
Dreher struck again in the third, when he came up with Plasky on second and Adam Tavares on first after back-to-back singles. Dreher drove a single to right to make it a 2-0 game, which soon became 4-0 after a sac fly by John Dean and an error.
Woodland shot itself in the foot several times early in the game with uncharacteristic mistakes. The Hawks, who had committed just two errors in their first three games, made three errors in the first three innings and failed to close in on two shallow outfield pop-ups.
“Good defense translates into confidence and wins. We didn’t field ground balls and let some pop-ups drop,” Woodland coach Mike Kingsley said. “They played aggressive and we sat back. They brought the tempo to us.”
Dreher blanked the Hawks for four innings, although he had to work out of jams in the third and fourth. Woodland loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Dreher struck out Sam Merriman on a high fastball before a fielder’s choice groundout ended the frame.
In the fourth, the Hawks threatened to score again when Mike Tuohy’s two-out hit to right brought Mike Gondola around third. Naugatuck right fielder Jovanni Torres fired a dart to Dean, who tagged out Gondola.
“I was confident enough to get them down, but the walks have to improve for me,” said Dreher, who issued all three of his walks in the trouble innings. “I have to trust my defense and start throwing more strikes.”
Adam Tavares threw three innings of relief for Naugy. Tavares struck out six and allowed an unearned run in the seventh, when Mike Kenney’s RBI double plated Gondola.
Tanner Kingsley went four innings on the hill and allowed five earned runs on eight hits. Tyler Boisvert tossed three innings of scoreless relief.
Kenney had two of Woodland’s four hits. Tuohy and Merriman claimed the others.
“For some reason today they went up there guessing instead of recognizing pitches,” Mike Kingsley said. “There was a lot of thinking at the plate today.”
Plasky was 3-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base. Jason Bradley also singled, stole a base and scored, and Kevin Mariano knocked two hits, including a two-run single in the fifth.
The Greyhounds’ only loss came on opening day to Derby after a two-error first inning spotted the Red Raiders three runs. Since then, Naugatuck (6-1) has been among the Naugatuck Valley League’s hottest squads. The ‘Hounds beat Watertown 9-2 on Monday and will host Wilby on Wednesday. They will play three straight road games Friday (Sacred Heart), Monday (St. Paul) and Tuesday (Holy Cross).
“We just beat Woodland; we didn’t win the state championship yet,” Naugatuck coach Tom Deller said. “We have a lot to work on, but it’s all about the process. This was a big game and every game is important, but we took a step in the right direction today.”
Woodland (4-2) rebounded to hold off Ansonia on Saturday by a 4-3 score but fell Monday at Holy Cross by a 6-3 final. The Hawks visit Watertown on Wednesday before hosting unbeaten Seymour on Friday. Woodland will play at Wilby on Monday.