WALLINGFORD — The feeling of being back on the diamond was bittersweet for the Wallingford Silver Storm after being shut out in a 2-0, season-opening loss to the Simsbury SaberCats.
The Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League game was played at Pat Wall Field in front of a dispersed crowd, as fans practiced social distancing by staying six feet apart due to COVID-19 guidelines.
Other new safety measures guarded against crowded dugouts and the umpire calling balls and strikes stood behind the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate.
“We’re still not all the way there yet,” said Silver Storm head coach Matt Altieri. “We’re trying to do the best we can, knowing we have to use the home baseballs and stay away from each other.”
Brendan O’Connell started on the mound for Wallingford. O’Connell pitched three innings, giving up two hits, walking one and striking out two.
James Chiapetta took over at the start of the fourth and also went three innings, giving up six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out two. He took the loss.
Simsbury struck in the top of the fourth when Dylan Nastri singled to left-center to drive in Jeremy Zarwanski, who had reached base on a single.
The next batter, Brad Ellis, brought home Luke Benneche with a RBI single to center, giving the SaberCats a 2-0 lead.
Benneche led Simsbury’s offense with two doubles. He also pitched the final inning to secure the win.
For Wallingford, offense was tough to come by. The Silver Storm mustered only two hits in the game.
Freshman newcomer Paul Villecco tripled to deep right-center in the bottom of the fourth, but the Silver Storm weren’t able to cut the lead.
“It’s been different, but I think we’ve transitioned well onto the team,” said Villecco. “A lot of us have been playing together for our entire high school careers.”
Ten players on this year’s Silver Storm roster are former Cheshire High School Rams, including Villecco.
While there was a lack of hitting for Wallingford, defense was plentiful, led by left fielder Jacob Rainey, who had a diving catch and threw a runner out at the plate.
“Some of these guys haven’t pitched competitively or been up against competitive pitching since March,” Altieri said. “I was just happy that we played great defense and our pitchers only walked two guys.
“I’d like to see a little more offense, but it’s an opener. That’s the way it goes.”
Wallingford’s next game is Friday night at Pat Wall Field at 7 p.m. against last season’s CCBL runner-up, the Glastonbury Arrows.