When the Bethel Wildcats baseball team brings their A-game, they can compete with anyone in the league—. The Wildcats rode a great start from pitcher Andrew Guercio, along with 15 hits to an 11-0 thumping of Stratford on Wednesday afternoon at Bethel High School.
Bethel got off to a fast start in the home half of the first inning. Jonathan Sorice and Guercio led off with two singles, and Sorice made his way to the other corner by stealing third base. Senior Avery Rizzuto knocked home both runners with a triple to give the Wildcats a quick 2-0 lead.
Tyler Slavick hit a flyball to left field that was dropped by the left fielder to bring Rizzuto home from third. Alex Amaru ended the inning by hitting into a 4-3 double play. The damage was done, as the Wildcats finished the inning with a 3-0 lead.
Guercio pitched a 1-2-3 second inning that set the Wildcats up to extend their lead in the second inning. Nicholas Spinella led off the inning with a double to get into scoring position. Sorice would be hit by a pitch on his second at bat of the game to get two men on base with two outs. Guercio helped out his cause with a 2-RBI double to stake the Wildcats out to a 5-0 lead after two innings.
After a scoreless third, Bethel added another three runs to jump out to an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Once again, Sorice led off the inning with a single for his second hit of the game. Guercio added another single to get runners at first and second. Zachary Albin drove a hard groundball back up the middle into the outfield for a 2-RBI single. Rizzuto would get on base next, and eventually come around to score after singles from Slavick and Amaru.
Guercio walked the first batter of the inning in the top of the fifth. Stratford was unable to do any damage, and Bethel maintained their 8-0 lead through four and a half. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with Sorice leading off with his third hit of the game. Jonathan Matthews pinch hit and drove in two runs with a hit between first and second base. Bethel would tack on one more run in the inning to take an 11-0 lead.
Guercio pitched five scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, struck out three, and walked only one batter. Coach Ray Turek, knew he needed a strong start from the senior. “It starts with Andrew," he said. "He had nice tempo on the mound and threw a lot of strikes. He attacked their hitters.”
Sorice once again called a great game and helped Guercio hold Stratford to just one hit in his five innings. “Our catcher did a nice job as always, he called a good game. He got three hits today, too, so that’s phenomenal,” Turek said.
Christopher Galvin pitched a scoreless sixth inning, hitting one batter. He made a great defensive play on a hit back up the middle, knocking the ball down and getting it to first to end the inning.
Michael Crimi pitched a scoreless seventh, giving up a double, walking a batter and striking out a batter. Stratford got runners to second and third, but Crimi caught the final Stratford batter looking to end the game. He was also charged with a wild pitch.
The Wildcats’ team defense stood out today, holding Stratford to just two hits on the day.
“We were strong up the middle on defense. Shortstop took charge and we made a couple plays today. I was pretty happy with our defense,” Turek said. “They were impressive and put a lot of balls in play early, and we made all of the plays.”
Up next for the Wildcats is facing SWC foe New Milford away on Thursday, April 21 at 3:45 p.m.
“We have New Milford tomorrow,” said Turek. “They have a couple of real good pitchers, so we know we’re going to have to play well to win the ball game tomorrow. We’re going to take it one game at a time."