SOUTH CHINA — The Cony baseball team played long ball in its win against Lawrence on Wednesday.
In Friday’s game against Erskine Academy, the Rams went in the other direction. The strategy rattled the host Eagles and led to several runs in support of junior right-hander Charlie Hallak.
It added up to a 9-1 victory for the Rams (2-0) who laid down three bunts, two for hits, stole a couple of bases and collected eight hits.
“We made it a point of emphasis that we’re going to be a great bunting team,” Cony coach Don Plourde said. “Last year it really wasn’t a strength.”
Hallak allowed three hits and an unearned run before tiring in the sixth and giving way to sophomore Thomas Foster. Mixing his fastball with a sharp over-the-top curve, Hallak struck out six batters and walked three. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 23 batters he faced.
“I felt really good,” Hallak said. “Clout (catcher Keith Cloutier) did a real nice job behind the plate and it was just another day of playing catch with him.”
Erskine sophomore Jake Rideout deserved better than he got. Making his first varsity start, he gave up seven hits, including two bunts that were a result of defensive confusion. The Eagles (0-2) also committed a pair of throwing errors in Cony’s three-run fifth inning.
“I’m really proud of him,” Erskine coach Lars Jonassen said. “Actually, our strength let us down. We’re a pretty good defensive team.”
Cony scored a run in the second inning that typified its scoring throughout the game. Mitchell Caron walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Tyler Lewis’ bad-hop single up the middle. The Rams added two more runs in the third when Hallak walked, Cloutier reached on an infield hit and both moved up on Foster’s sacrifice bunt. Hallack scored on Zack Lachance’s sacrifice fly and Cloutier on an opposite-field single from Ben Lucas.
The Rams broke the game open in the fifth, scoring three times without getting the ball out of the infield. The key play in the inning was a bunt toward first by Lachance, Cony’s No. 3 hitter.
“First base was playing back and coach called a bunt,” Lachance said. “No one was covering so it worked out well.”
A run scored on the play and two more came home on ground ball, outs.
“We’re doing the little things right which is giving us a great outcome,” Lachance said.
The Eagles scored a run off Hallak in the third after Ryan Rodrigue doubled to left center and Zack Isbell singled off Lucas’ glove at first. Hallak appeared to escape the jam when he caught No. 3 hitter John Suga looking at an inside fastball for the second out.
“We’d been working him away, away, away,” Plourde said. “He certainly hit the spot and I give some credit to Keith Cloutier for sticking that inside pitch.”
Lucas singled twice for the Rams while teammate Tayler Carrier singled, doubled and stole two bases.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638