BEACON FALLS — Naugatuck’s Seth Mulhall came up in the top of the fifth inning and delivered a go-ahead, two-run double to give the Greyhounds their first lead after trailing Woodland, 6-0. But Naugy found itself trailing again, 9-8, in its final at-bats.
Mulhall stepped in again in the seventh and delivered another two-run double — this one the game-winner — to lead Naugatuck to a 10-9 victory on Tuesday afternoon.
“This game really got that fire going in our belly again,” Mulhall said after a stunning conclusion to this old-fashioned baseball classic. “Coach (Tom Deller) is always telling us to pick up our teammates. That’s exactly what we had to do after falling behind 6-0. I got off to a slow start at the plate this season so getting these hits really felt good to contribute to the team.”
Mulhall’s hits would not have been a factor if not for the gutsy pitching of Ryan White. Naugatuck (6-4) starter Adam Tavares faced a Woodland (1-8) team that just put its first win of the season in the books with a 12-5 victory over Torrington last Friday.
The Hawks came out swinging as Steve Baeder (three hits, three RBI) and Brian Langdon delivered run-scoring hits in the first inning to plate David Uhl and Anthony Scirpo.
A fielding error opened the door in the second as Anthony Scirpo and Baeder knocked in runs for a 5-0 lead.
Billy Alfiere singled and Nick Brown doubled to start the third. White came on in relief and delivered what the Greyhounds needed — outs. He struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a pop-up to retire the side but Naugatuck was staring down the barrel of a 6-0 deficit.
In the fourth, Zac Mercer, Rich Pimental and Adam Neveski hit consecutive singles off Alfiere to get the ‘Hounds on the board. White then came up and drilled a two-run double. Mulhall (three hits, five RBI) tagged a pitch into center field for an RBI double and Naugatuck trailed, 6-4.
White kept Woodland from pulling too far away, going four innings and striking out five.
“Coach put me in there and told me to keep it close,” White said. “That’s all I was trying to do — throw first-pitch strikes, stay ahead in the count and give my team a chance to get back in this game.”
The ‘Hounds exploded for four more runs in the fifth to take the lead. Kyle Lopes got it started with a single and Mercer drew a walk. Pimental cleared the bases with a two-run double that tied the game. Neveski worked out a walk and Mulhall pounded a two-run double to open up an 8-6 lead.
Woodland responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Ross and Mike Kenney opened the frame with singles.
White was almost out of the woods thanks to two stellar plays at second base by Mike Burns. Scirpo sent a long bending drive down the right field line that tipped off the glove of a diving Lopes for a triple, sending Tanner Kingsley home with the tying run.
Baeder’s RBI single scored Scirpo to give Woodland a 9-8 lead, which held until the top of the seventh.
Neveski led off the seventh by sending a slow dribbler up the third-base side that he beat out for a hit. White reached on a failed double play attempt before Mulhall crushed a two-strike double into the gap to bring home the tying and eventual winning runs.
In the home half, Scirpo drilled a two-out single past first base before Neveski got a called third strike on Baeder to end the game.
Naugatuck was set to host Watertown on Wednesday before road games at Ansonia on Friday and St. Paul on Monday.
Woodland was scheduled to visit Holy Cross on Wednesday before hosting Sacred Heart on Thursday. After that, the Hawks will play seven of their last nine on the road.