Coaches love to stress strong pitching and reliable fielding as the surest paths to victory. But when effective pitching and solid fielding by both teams conspire to create a tight game, such as the case in Westhill’s FCIAC game at Ludlowe’s Kiwanis Field on Wednesday, the difference often comes from a clutch hit.
The Falcons’ shortstop, senior Taylor Szemplinski, had the big hit with three on and two out in the bottom of the seventh inning. His single slapped to right-center field drove home designated hitter Tommy Ryan for the decisive run in Ludlowe’s 4-3 victory. Westhill coach DJ Mulvany gave credit to Szemplinski for making the adjustment and getting the best of his reliever, Austin Nardi, during that pivotal at bat.
“He was able to find the hole out there,” Mulvany said. Szemplinski has displayed perseverance this season, not starting at first then working his way into a rotation with Ryan at short and designated hitter. And lately, he’s been finding key hits in important spots. Ludlowe coach Mike Francese has noted Szemplinski’s big run-scoring hits in the Falcons’ recent games. Szemplinski was 0-for-2 before his winning hit off Nardi, who was making his second appearance on the mound for the Vikings.
“That was a pressure situation,” Francese said of Szemplinski’s at bat. “That’s a situation you want to be in in extra innings or in a last at bat. It’s the type of hit that probably will help build his confidence.”
Westhill had won five of its last six games before the loss to Ludlowe. The Falcons have now won three of their last four games.