WALLINGFORD — Spotted a three-run lead, right-hander Ryan Henderson was in command from the get-go Monday night, pitching the Southington Shock to a 7-0 Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League victory over the Wallingford Silver Storm at Pat Wall Field.
Mixing a crisp fastball with a sharp curve, Henderson struck out six over five frames. He hit a batter, but did not walk anybody.
It was a return to form for Henderson, a 2019 Southington High grad who just finished his freshman year at Eastern Connecticut State University. Given that the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2020 college baseball season almost as soon as it began, the CCBL is pretty much Henderson’s first game action since last year’s run to the New England Regional with the Southington American Legion team
“We only had five games this spring (at ECSU) and I didn’t get in anything,” Henderson said. “In the fall, I pitched against Wheaton when we had our scrimmage against them, and then intra-squads, but these are the first games I’ve been in.”
Prior to Monday, Henderson had made two appearances with the 2020 Shock, one in relief, the other a start, neither a win. Both he and his teammates, in opening the season 1-5, found themselves shaking off quite a bit of rust.
“First two outings were decent, but now I’m starting to get the swing of things and I’m starting to locate a little better,” Henderson said. “I walked a pretty good amount of guys the first few games and now I’ve figured it out, found the strike zone. The catcher’s great and the fielders have figured it out. They’re making plays for me, rolling double plays. I can’t ask for more.”
Henderson, working to batterymate Andrew Pulcini, scattered six hits on Monday night.
The Silver Storm did have some loud outs. In those instances, Henderson’s defense did not let him down.
Ethan McDonough in left and Brandon Kohl in center gloved a pair of line drives in the outfield. In the third inning, second baseman Jesus Garcia and shortstop Noah Budzik turned two to keep the shutout intact in the face of three Silver Storm hits.
The Shock, meanwhile, got to Wallingford starter and former Cheshire High ace Gary Costello early. Southington’s first five batters reached safely and three crossed the plate before an out was recorded.
A botched tag-up on a flyout prevented further Southington runs in that first inning. The damage, though, was done courtesy of a RBI single up the middle by Kyle Leifert and a two-run triple to deep right-center by Jake Babon.
Costello struggled with his command and the Shock chased him in the third. Matt Warren doubled to the warning track. Babon walked and stole second. Jimmy Edwards plated both with a single into left-center over a drawn-in infield.
Southington extended its 5-0 lead with single runs in the fifth and sixth. McDonough singled and scored on an error in the fifth. Kohl singled and scored on a base hit by Warren in the sixth.
Kohl and Warren both finished 2-for-2 and Budzik went 2-for-4 to fuel the Shock’s 11-hit attack. Southington also stole eight bases.
Nico Gaudio completed the shutout with two innings of one-hit relief.
Nate Furino and Mike Koslowski pitched well in relief for Wallingford. Furino came on to end a bases-loaded jam in the third to keep the Silver Storm within range. He wound up working the next three frames, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk while fanning four with a tricky off-speed curve.
Koslowski brought the heat in the seventh, striking out two of the four batters he faced.
Both teams turned two double plays — one apiece thanks to base running gaffes, the other on straight-up D. Garcia and Budzik turned their 4-6-3 in the third, while Silver Storm second baseman Ben Schena went home to catcher Andrew DeClement to turn a 4-2-3 with the bases loaded in the fourth.
Both teams came away at 2-5 with a full slate of games ahead this week.
The Shock, at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium on Tuesday night to face the Brass City Bombers, return to Southington High to host the Hamden Miners on Thursday and the Manchester Eagles on Friday. Both home games are at 7 p.m.
The Silver Storm host the Eagles on Wednesday at Pat Wall. Expected to join the Wallingford squad that night is former Sheehan and current UConn catcher Paul Gozzo. Game time is 7 p.m.
Wallingford also plays at home Thursday and Friday night.