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Monday, March 19 Sports

Stratford holds off ND-Fairfield

BRIDGEPORT -- The story of Notre Dame-Fairfield's losses, as coach Bill Mazzucco put it, is the Lancers' inability to drive in runners in scoring position.

That didn't change on Saturday as the Lancers left the tying run at third in a 6-5 loss to Stratford in the nightcap of a tripleheader at Harbor Yard.

"We get the guys on, we can't get them in," Mazzucco said.

The Lancers (9-4) left the bases loaded in the second and the sixth, then had a runner on third with one out in the seventh. But Stratford's Brandon Russo left him there, getting two outs to finish off a complete game victory.

Russo scattered eight hits and struck out five as the Red Devils (5-8) ended a two-game slide.

"Another nailbiter. That's been our whole season," coach Mick Buckmir said. "We're in a lot of tight games, and this time they fought and closed it out."

Stratford's win capped a busy day of baseball at Harbor Yard, with a trio of South-West Conference games benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project and VFW. Newtown walked off with a wild 16-15 win over Masuk in the first game and Bethel held off Bunnell 3-2 in the second contest.

The Lancers plated three runs in the second, but Stratford answered with a five-run third off right-hander Spencer Basset. The Red Devils recorded five of their eight hits in the inning, including a two-run triple by Sam Breiner that made it 4-3.

"It boosted our whole team," Russo said. "Answering with five runs after a little shaky inning, it's always good."

ND-Fairfield's three-run second could've been much worse for Russo, but the right-hander snagged a comebacker with the bases loaded and turned an inning-ending double play. He worked out of trouble in the sixth as well, inducing a grounder to strand the bases loaded.

Tony DiNatale made it 6-5 with a double in the seventh, but Russo prevented any further damage.

"Really gutty performance that last inning," Buckmir said.

Collin Cegelka contributed two hits and two RBIs for the Lancers. Matt Lasky and Matt Moffat also drove in runs in the second inning.

The Lancers, who edged Stratford 2-1 in eight innings on April 19, have now dropped two straight. This time, however, the Lancers failed to get the big hit late.

"They're a very good team," Mazzucco said of Stratford. "They have very good pitching. They hit the ball."

The Lancers face a crucial stretch next week, beginning Monday at home against Bunnell (12-3). That's followed by games at Masuk, Pomperaug and Barlow Wednesday through Friday.

"That's going to be tough," Mazzucco said. "I don't think anybody really has pitching for that many games."

dbonjour@ctpost; twitter.com/DougBonjour

STRATFORD 005 010 0 -- 6 8 2

ND-FAIRFIELD 030 100 1 -- 5 8 0

Records: Stratford 5-8; ND-Fairfield 9-4. Batteries: S -- Brandon Russo (W) and Sam Breiner; NDF -- Spencer Basset (L), Dillon Stimpson (7) and Matt Lasky.

Highlights: S -- Breiner was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs; NDF -- Collin Cegelka went 2-for-3 with one walk and two RBIs, Tony DiNatale had an RBI double.