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Sluggers Get Back On Winning Track With Comeback Efforts

Newtown High School’s baseball team shook off a five-game losing streak with a pair of wins — both comebacks, but one of which ended as a lopsided affair, and the other a nail-biter — to close out play in the month of April with a 5-6 overall record.

The Nighthawks dug themselves out of an early hole and rattled visiting Immaculate of Danbury 13-6 on April 24, and edged Pomperaug of Southbury, erasing 4-1 first-inning deficit, for a 5-4 win at Bridgeport’s Ballpark At Harbor Yard the next night. Proceeds from the Pomperaug game benefited the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, and the Hawks raised about $3,000.

The winning ways came at a key point in the season for a team that couldn’t seem to find a way to win before pulling out two somewhat improbable victories.

“After we dropped the five straight guys were down — we really were, as a whole team. But we told ’em ‘it’s not what happens to you, it’s just how you react and respond to it,’” Newtown Coach Matt Memoli said of his staff’s talk with the players. “We knocked off Immaculate with a huge offensive day from a lot of our guys.”

Against Immaculate, the Hawks compiled 14 hits and drew nine walks. The hitting star was Steve Conway who went 3-for-3 with a triple, homerun, three runs scored, and seven runs batted in.

“It was awesome. We were in a tough spot early. We were down, and we started to string together some hits,” Conway said.

Dan Poeltl was 3-for-4 with a run batted in and three runs scored. Justin DeVellis went 2-for-2 with three walks, an RBI, and three runs scored. Julian Dunn had a triple, three walks, and an RBI. Pat Mullins went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in and a run scored. Virgil Procaccini went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Mullins and Troy Larsen combined to pitch 3.2 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball in relief.

In the victory over Pomperaug, Newtown’s 15-hit performance included a 3-for-3 effort by Conway, who also had two stolen bases, scored a run, and drove in another. Mullins went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Dean Demers was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Alex Lapinski drove in a run.

The Hawks scored first but fell behind by three runs before their second team at bat.

“It’s amazing the way our team bounced back. It was definitely an important win. As of right now that was our biggest win of the year,” Conway said.

“We battled and grinded and found a way,” Memoli added. “It was an uphill battle but I definitely give our kids credit.”

Brandon Marks tossed 6.1 innings of four-hit ball. Marks allowed four runs, three of which were earned, walked five, and struck out seven. After a rough start to the game he settled in shut the door. “He absolutely shut ’em down,” Memoli said.

The Newtown coach said he pleased with his team members for their off-field efforts in raising awareness for the fundraising game and their performances on the field.

“I was extremely proud of the whole town,” Memoli said. “The way they played — it was outstanding. So the whole night, I think, was a an absolute success.”

The Immaculate game ended the losing streak, but the Pomperaug game may be a turning point in the season Memoli believes, given that it came down to the wire.

“I think something like that — that turns seasons around,” Memoli said of the comeback effort.

Newtown kept up its winning ways and got to .500 this spring with a 1-0 victory over Bunnell of Stratford on May 1. Pat Mullins threw a complete game one-hitter and Dean Demers drove in Conway with the game’s only run. The Hawks, after visiting Masuk in Monroe on May 2, have a split double header slated for May 4. They’ll take on nonconference foe Wolcott at 3 pm, then oppose South-West Conference rival New Fairfield at 6:30 pm — both at Fairfield Hills. The Hawks will have another game at Fairfield Hills when New Milford visits on Monday, May 6, for a 6:30 pm first pitch.

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