NORWALK — As far as varsity debuts go, Norwalk pitcher Angel Nieves is certainly going to remember his for a long time.
The senior right-hander was thrown into the fire by coach Pete Tucci, sent to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning of a tied game.
Nieves slammed the door shut on Danbury, notching a strikeout to get out of the jam and then gave up just one hit the rest of the way, earning the save in the Bears’ 15-8 FCIAC baseball win on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a lot of faith in him,” said Tucci. “I wish I could have gotten him into his first game with less pressure, but that says a lot about him and that’s you move up (on the depth chart).”
Norwalk had seen Danbury bounce back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-1 before putting up five runs in the fourth to take a 9-4 lead.
One-out singles by Marco Monteiro and Alex Barone started the rally and Eddie McCabe (2-for-4, 4 RBIs, 3 runs) delivered a two-run single to go with run-scoring base hits by starting pitcher Mike Gonzalez and Moe Ortiz-Echevarria.
“Everybody’s starting to find their groove,” McCabe said.
In the fifth, though, the Hatters came back again, scoring four times to tie the game and threatening to add on more.
That’s when Tucci called on Nieves to take the hill.
“I just felt like I needed to put the team on my back for that one situation,” Nieves said. “It was just my time to shine. That’s all I could do. I was very nervous, butterflies in my stomach, but I tried to show up for my team.”
One Norwalk escaped that inning, the Bears blew the game open again in the sixth, scoring six unearned runs to take control of the game.
“We tied it at 4-4, had a chance at 9-8 and we just opened the flood gates with two outs on a mistake,” Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford aid. “It happens. It’s high school baseball.”
While McCabe led Norwalk’s 13-hit attack, Eddie O’Hara (2-for-4, two runs, RBI), Barone (2-for-2, RBI) and Nieves (2-for-2) also found offensive success.
For Danbury, Derek Garnett was 3-for-3 and scored twice. Ryan Solimine added a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk for three RBIs while Javon Hernandez laced a two-run single and plated another run with a ground out.
Norwalk had taken a 2-0 lead in the first when McCabe tripled home Reid Singelwald (one-out walk) and then scored on Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly.
Danbury cut the lead in half in second when Garnett singled, stole second and scored on a throwing error.
Norwalk added runs in the third (Barone’s RBI single) and fourth (McCabe’s fielder’s choice) to take a 4-1 lead, before the Hatters rallied to tie the game in the fourth.
Each time Danbury rallied, though, Norwalk was able to answer and cushion its lead a little more.
“We did a lot of good things today,” said Tucci. “We hit the ball. We hadn’t been hitting at all, but we swung the bats well today.”
Norwalk, which improved to 3-1 with its third straight win, travels to Stamford on Friday.
NORWALK 15, DANBURY 8
Danbury 010 340 0—8 8 3
Norwalk 211 506 x—15 13 1