WATERBURY — The Naugatuck baseball team shook off a slow start to the season, rallying from a 2-0 deficit Monday at Fulton Park to earn its first win, 8-3, over Sacred Heart.
The Greyhounds began the season with a 7-1 loss to Wolcott and a 3-2 setback to Holy Cross. But John Dean helped Naugy enter the win column Monday, earning the victory on the hill after settling down from a two-run first inning.
Dean went four innings, allowing just two hits, and left with a 4-2 lead. Ricky Plasky kicked the door shut on the Hearts with three innings of one-run relief.
“We’ve all been playing together since Little League,” Plasky said. “We’ve always had that winning mentality. We were disappointed on how we started out the season. We needed to get more serious in practice and once we did that our hitting improved and our fielding has improved.”
Sacred Heart got on the board early against Dean, benefiting from a couple of walks, a few wild pitches and a run-scoring single off the bat of Evan DeVico to grab a 2-0 advantage in the first. After that Dean was untouchable, surrendering just one hit over the next three innings.
Naugatuck rallied in the third when Kevin Mariano led off with an infield hit deep in the hole at shortstop. Kyle Plasky pounded a double into the right-field gap to set up runners at second and third with no outs.
Josh Aviles knocked home a run on a groundout, and with two outs Adam Tavares (three hits, two runs, three RBI) ripped an RBI double to center. Naugatuck collected three straight two-out hits with Ricky Plasky drilling an RBI single over the bag at second and Dean placing a run-scoring single down the line in left.
When the smoke cleared the ‘Hounds were on top by a 4-2 margin. Sacred Heart tried to take advantage of a pair of walks in the fourth only to have shortstop Jason Bradley and second baseman Matt Bradley put the leather on a couple of hard groundouts to diffuse the situation.
Naugatuck erupted for three more tallies in the fifth to put away the game. Aviles led off with a single to center and stole second base. Tavares followed up with a single to left and Aviles wheeled around third base. The throw and the runner arrived home at the same time and Aviles collided with the Sacred Heart catcher, jarring the ball loose to score the run.
“We certainly needed to pick up the intensity,” Aviles said. “I came around third base hot and the catcher was in the way. I had to score. We came out sloppy, losing the first two games, but today we picked it up and hit the ball up and down the lineup.”
Dean knocked in Tavares by reaching on an error at first base before Scott Sill worked a two-out walk and Matt Bradley drove a run-scoring single into right field for a 7-2 lead at the end of five innings.
Sacred Heart and Naugatuck plated runs in the sixth but Plasky slammed the door to lead the ‘Hounds to their first victory of the season.
“Today we hit the ball up and down the lineup,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “We are still working on the focusing part. DeVico is a solid pitcher and we were able to get the bat on the ball, something that we’ve been struggling with. We faced Tom Rinaldi of Holy Cross, and between him and DeVico they are two of the top pitchers in the league. If we learn to work hard and put ourselves in a position to compete we can play with anybody.”
Deller still wants to see improvement in practice but praised Ricky Plasky for his reliability.
“If you put in 50 percent at practice you are going to struggle in the games,” Deller said. “Ricky Plasky has pitched in every game and it’s a tremendous asset to have someone who can come in and shut the other team down, which he has.”
Naugatuck fell to Kennedy on Wednesday, 11-10, in eight innings at Waterville Park. The ‘Hounds bounced back with a 13-1 win over Wilby on Thursday and will take on Crosby on Monday at Washington Park.