WESTPORT -- The Staples baseball team is peaking at the right time yet again, which is probably a bad thing for the rest of the FCIAC.
It's taken some time for the bats to get going, but after posting double-digit run totals in consecutive games it appears that scoring may no longer be a weakness for the Wreckers, who are chasing their fourth conference title in five years.
Monday, Staples used a seven-run second inning to coast past Danbury 14-4 at Staples High School.
In a rematch of both the 2011 FCIAC championship game (won by Staples 5-3) and a class LL second-round bout (won by Danbury 6-4), Staples scored 10 of its 14 runs with two outs and received contributions from the entire lineup. Seven different batters notched hits, including two hits and three RBI by both Bryan Terizan and Zach Levins.
"Everyone contributed today," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "Our bats really came alive, we had a good approach against Danbury's pitching. We played team baseball; this is truly a team; there are no individuals out there and we have that going for us right now."
The wheels fell off quickly for the visitors after the teams traded runs in the first inning. When it appeared it would escape a bases-loaded no-out jam in the second inning with only a run scoring, Danbury began making mistakes in the field and the rally grew longer.
By the time the Hatters led off the top of the third, 13 Staples batters and three crucial errors later, they were down seven runs and headed toward another heavy defeat against an FCIAC power.
"We didn't make plays today," Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford said. "When you give a good team like Staples five or six outs in an inning it's tough. The mistakes in the field hurt us."
Danbury (10-5) continued to battle back, despite entering the fourth inning down seven runs. The Hatters batted around in the frame and scored three times to get to within 8-4, but left the bases loaded when Jack Zanine lined out to right field ending the threat.
"The whole game I couldn't find command from the stretch, so when the first guy got on in the inning I struggled," Staples starting pitcher Chris Speer said. "Usually there isn't a difference for me in the stretch, but today for some reason it was off. My teammates really picked me up today, I was lucky the bats were on fire."
The offensive outburst by Danbury seemingly sparked the Staples (13-2) bats yet again as Terizan and Levins each had two-run hits during a six-run inning to break the game wide open for the red hot Wreckers.
"I don't think we've played our best game yet," Staples co-captain Jimmy Kopack said. "But our the bats are coming along and our pitching rotation is great so we're headed in the right direction."
Speer battled through four innings, yielding four earned runs and seven hits. The relief duo of Julian Clarke and Jarrett Goodness combined for one hit over three shutout innings to close the game.
Staples has now won eight of its past nine and looks like the team to beat in the FCIAC despite the presence of undefeated Greenwich above the Wreckers in the standings. The Wreckers will host the Cardinals in the most anticpated game of the season on Friday.
"We're one of the teams to beat," Speer said. "We don't have the best record right now but that's OK because it's all about how you are playing come tournament time."
The Hatters have struggled to compete with the top teams of the FCIAC so far this season, losing to Ridgefield, St. Joseph, Brien McMahon, and now Staples by at least six runs, which raises the question if Danbury can repeat its run to the final in 2012.
"The result has been the same against the bigger teams," Ratchford said. "If we want to get in and beat a good team we are going to have to change. It's a huge concern, whether we get in the playoffs or not. If we don't play better and change our approach it won't matter. I don't want to get in if we're going to be someone's whipping boy."
STAPLES 14, DANBURY 4
DANBURY 100 300 0--4 9 5
STAPLES 170 600 X--14 10 0
Records: Danbury 10-5, 8-5 FCIAC; Staples 13-2, 11-2.
Doubles: S--Bryan Terizan, Marco Rivero. Home Runs: D--Chris DelDebbio