LaPolice and Newlove Stymie McMahon’s Offense in Baseball’s 6-1 Win



On a picturesque spring afternoon at Mead Park, the first home game of 2015 for the Rams, a pitcher’s duel occurred.

Senior co-captain Alex LaPolice took the hill for the Rams, and after they scored two runs in the bottom of the first, LaPolice made that enough to get the W for New Canaan (3-0; 2-0 FCIAC) over Brien McMahon.

“It felt good,” LaPolice told when talking about his outing. “I was getting ahead of kids which was huge. [Felt] really good early on.”

LaPolice helped his cause when the Rams put up two runs in the 1st. After getting hit by a pitch on the foot, LaPolice stole second and later scored on fellow co-captain Brandon Abate’s single to centerfield. Then after Kyle Levasseur worked an eight-pitch walk, right fielder Kane Curtin drove one deep to center for a sacrifice fly, scoring co-captain Zach Smith, who got on base earlier in the inning with a single.

That was where the scoring stopped for a while. McMahon pitcher Paul Salata, also a lefty like LaPolice, threw up zeroes for the 2nd-5th innings.

The Rams had opportunities to score, but it was almost like Salata felt more comfortable with runners on base.

In the bottom of the 2nd, New Canaan had runners on second and third with one out, but Salata got out of it. Then Abate led off the bottom of the 3rd with his second single to center, and eventually stole second, only to watch Salata strike out the side. Another runner reached second base in the 4th, but again, no dice.

“Paul gave a great effort,” head coach Mitch Hoffman told “Paul battled. We had him on the ropes a couple times and we just couldn’t knock him out. To his credit, he did a great job.”

Even so, LaPolice would always counter.

After stranding two runners on in the 1st to allow the Rams to get ahead early, the Rams senior co-captain followed that up in the 2nd with striking out the side.

The only wrinkle on the scoreboard came in the 3rd when McMahon got on the board via a single to right with a runner on third.

LaPolice came back out with that slim one-run lead for the 4th, and after giving up a leadoff single, he was able to get the lead runner on an ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt. Two batters later, LaPolice went to cover first on a grounder to Robbie Jones and stopped mid-sprint to lean back to his left to grab the throw and fire up the crowd at Mead.

They were wowed again in the fifth, as a one-out comebacker was hit right up the middle. LaPolice leaped high into the air to snag the ball and fired it on to first for out number two.

“Alex did a great job. He battled. He did mentally what we want him to do. Got ahead, stayed ahead, [and threw] first-pitch strikes a lot,” said Hoffman.

All that could slow LaPolice down was his pitch count. With one out in sixth and the bases loaded, he was relieved by fellow senior Clark Newlove.

Newlove struck out the first batter when he got him swinging on a change-up in the dirt. He then fielded a ball hit right back at him and threw it on to first end the inning.

Not just anyone would be trusted with such a stressful situation, but Newlove has been here before, so it was a surprise to no one that he wasn’t phased by it.

“I love coming in spots like that,” Newlove said. “Last year that was my job. I threw strikes, pounded the zone; they had a good part of the order up, but we faced them [McMahon] in a scrimmage a couple weeks ago, so I knew where to put balls at.”

Getting out of that jam proved huge as New Canaan’s bats showed up again in the bottom of the sixth.

After Newlove walked to lead off the frame, McMahon coach John Cross removed Salata from the game.

It was a costly decision.

David Giusti drove Newlove home with a single to right. Two batters later, Jones smashed one to right as well, scoring Giusti. Zach Smith followed with a towering double to left to plate Jones, and Abate capped off the scoring with his third single and second RBI of the game.

This was the first of three games for the Rams this week. They next head to Bridgeport on Wednesday, April 15, to take on the Hilltoppers of Central High School, then follow that with a trip up to New Fairfield on Saturday, April 18.

The Rams return to Mead on Monday afternoon, April 20, for a 4 p.m. contest against Norwalk.

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