Hounds score four in the first, hold on to top Hawks

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Naugatuck’s Karl Johansen connects with a pitch Monday at Woodland. The Greyhounds held on to defeat the Hawks 4-2, after scoring all their runs in the first. -LARAINE WESCHLER
Naugatuck’s Karl Johansen connects with a pitch Monday at Woodland. The Greyhounds held on to defeat the Hawks 4-2, after scoring all their runs in the first. -LARAINE WESCHLER
BEACON FALLS — The Naugatuck baseball team has found plenty of ways to win. The ‘Hounds have used the blowout, where they leave no doubt. They’ve tried the barnburner, where they score plenty but give some up, too.

Monday, they employed pitching and defense to hold an early lead over Woodland for a 4-2 win in Beacon Falls.

All four of Naugatuck’s runs came in the top of the first with two outs. Matt Zahornasky reached on an error to center field with two outs following a double by Rich Pimental off Woodland starter Billy Alfiere. Then, Seth Mulhall drilled a double to deep center to score a pair of runs and make it 2-0.

After a walk by Bryan Pihonak, Adam Neveski lined a double to center to plate another pair of runs and increase the Greyhounds’ lead to 4-0.

“We are hitting,” said Naugatuck coach Tom Deller. “We have kids hitting in the .400s. We’re scoring runs. We talk about it, scoring runs to take the pressure off our pitchers and off our defense because it’s tough to play as a pitcher when you happen to walk a guy and you’re afraid that guy might come around to beat you.”

The four runs Naugy (6-3) scored in the first were all Alfiere allowed on the afternoon. He surrendered four hits in the inning but allowed just three the rest of the way.

Woodland’s Jake Pinho rounds third base on Monday versus Naugatuck. The Greyhounds defeated the Hawks 4-2. -LARAINE WESCHLER
Woodland’s Jake Pinho rounds third base on Monday versus Naugatuck. The Greyhounds defeated the Hawks 4-2. -LARAINE WESCHLER

In the second, Steve Baeder smashed a long home run to left for Woodland’s first hit and run. It was Baeder’s second home run in the last week.

Woodland (2-7) struck again in the bottom of the fourth when Jack DeBiase and Ryan Mariotti singled to lead off the inning. A pair of strikeouts nearly killed the inning, but Nick Brown knocked a two-out single up the middle to score DeBiase and cut Naugy’s lead to 4-2.

Neither team scored again, but it wasn’t for the lack of opportunities. Naugatuck left runners on first and second in the second inning, second and third in the fourth and seventh, and a runner on third with no outs after Mulhall tripled to lead off the fifth.

The Hawks stranded runners on first and second in the fourth, fifth, and seventh and left men on first and third with no outs in the sixth.

Naugatuck’s Matt Zahornasky pitches on Monday versus Woodland. The Greyhounds defeated the Hawks 4-2. -LARAINE WESCHLER
Naugatuck’s Matt Zahornasky pitches on Monday versus Woodland. The Greyhounds defeated the Hawks 4-2. -LARAINE WESCHLER

Deller said he was a little frustrated with the lack of offensive production in key situations.

“We did get the four runs early and we hit the ball pretty well in spots,” Deller said. “Sometimes it was that they made a decent play or we hit it right at guys. We had a leadoff triple and left him there and second and third some other times. We were fortunate to win.”

Overall, though, Deller is very pleased with his offense, which has scored at least nine runs five times, including 27 runs against Crosby and 21 against Holy Cross.

“I’ve been telling the kids quite regularly now that for the first time in easily five years we’re actually scoring runs,” Deller said. “It’s nice to have a team that we know can put up some runs. If we’re not scoring runs, there’s a reason for it.”

Naugatuck was set to host Kennedy on Wednesday afternoon before the ‘Hounds turn on the lights for the first time on Thursday against Derby. On Monday, Naugatuck gets a rematch with undefeated Torrington, which beat Naugy, 4-2, on opening day.

“I tell the kids every day since the beginning of pitchers and catchers that we can win this league,” Deller said. “It’s extremely competitive but there’s not the dominant guy out there. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day in this league. I think we can win it.”

Woodland suffered its fifth loss in a row and sixth in seven games and was set to host Holy Cross on Wednesday before visiting Kennedy on Friday and hosting Wolcott on Saturday.