CHESHIRE — Ben DeLaubell broke Notre Dame hearts with a go-ahead, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday to give the Cheshire baseball team a 2-1 SCC Housatonic victory over the Green Knights at Burt Leventhal Field.
The win was the sixth straight for the Rams, who improved to 10-2 overall. Notre Dame dipped below .500 to 6-7.
This game was an all-out pitchers’ duel between Matt Downing of Cheshire and James Salemme of Notre Dame.
Downing threw six innings before giving way to closer Rob Roles, who earned the save. Downing gave up one earned run, five hits, two walks and struck out four to earn the win.
The left-hander was excellent maneuvering through several dangerous hitters in the Green Knights’ lineup. He pitched to contact and consistently induced popups and fly balls.
“Matt Downing threw a great game; he was lights out,” said DeLaubell. “Rob Roles had a great save and Matt Costello did a great job behind the plate. If he didn’t throw that guy out at second in the top of the seventh, it could’ve been a different ball game.”
Salemme was absolutely dominant for Notre Dame. He gave up only two hits, walked one and struck out 10.
Salemme had a funky slingshot delivery that added extra deception to his pitches. He also frequently changed the speed on his pitches and kept Cheshire hitters off balance. There were at-bats where Cheshire hitters were flaiing at pitches just trying to make contact.
After both teams went scoreless through the first four innings, Notre Dame pushed across its run in the fifth. Jason Ostrowski led off the inning with a walk. Two batters later, John Milone turned on a pitch and hit a towering fly ball to deep left that resulted in a RBI double.
In the bottom of the sixth, with two outs, the Rams had their backs against the wall. Then Salemme surrendered his one walk of the game to Ryan Strollo.
That brought DeLaubell to the plate. DeLaubell got a hanging changeup and he jumped all over it, cranking a home run over the left field wall.
“That pitcher was throwing really well, so I knew that I had to get my front foot down early. I tried to look for a ball that I could put in play,” DeLaubell said. “Ryan Strollo did a good job getting on. (Salemme) hung a pitch and I put a good swing on it.”
With the Rams up 2-1, Roles did his job and slammed the door in the top of the seventh with the help of Costello throwing out the potential tying run at second base.
“This was a pitchers’ duel and their kid threw really well,” said Cheshire coach Bill Mrowka. “Our guy was battling, too. You knew it was going to come down to executing maybe a bunt or something and getting a runner in … for Ben to go yard like that was fabulous.
“Matt (Costello) in the last inning: to throw the guy out the guy out at second on a ball in the dirt was a great play. Pitching was awesome; Rob Roles comes in. It’s his fourth save. He’s been awesome when he comes in. He throws strikes and gets people out. I couldn’t be happier with these guys right now.”