It isn't pretty, but Lancers will take it

Buy Photo tIM cOOK/tHE dAY Waterford shortstop Jesse Coates (10) tags out Norwich Free Academy's Julian Laureano attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning of the Lancers' 3-1 Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division baseball victory on Tuesday in Waterford.

Waterford - There was an ample amount of wackiness contained in Waterford High School's 3-1 baseball win over Norwich Free Academy on Tuesday.

Waterford ace Jordan Hamler threw two wild pitches and hit two batters, but allowed just three hits in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division opener.

Lancers' catcher Seth Hoagland struggled to throw the ball back to Hamler after the majority of his pitches, yet threw out two base runners.

NFA pitchers scattered 10 hits, but continually - with the help of their teammates - worked out of jams.

Ah, the quirkiness of early-season baseball.

"It's never a dull moment when you're dealing with high school kids," Waterford coach Art Peluso said with a grin. "But it's always fun."

The Lancers improved to 2-1, 1-0.

"We just had one of those days," Hamler said. "We'll come back from it, though. We're good."

It was the first loss of the season for NFA (2-1, 0-1).

"I didn't feel like we were ready to play today," NFA coach Clarence Cooper said. "We played from behind all day. And when that happens, you have to have a couple of breaks and we just didn't get a break today."

It was evident early on that the game wasn't going to be routine when Hoagland had trouble throwing the ball back to Hamler.

It was even odder because Hoagland quarterbacked the football team last fall.

"It was weird, but he's a good kid," Hamler said. "He'll come back from that."

NFA tested Hoagland's arm twice by trying to steal second and both times he threw out the runner.

"He worked through it," Peluso said. "I wasn't going to take him out because he's a great ballplayer. He's one of the best players on our team, and he's one of the better players in the state, to be honest with you. He can hit. He's what you want behind the plate. He just struggled today getting the ball back to the pitcher, but he'll be fine."

The Wildcats' lone run was due to Hamler having a few lapses in the fourth. He hit Chance Gendron with a pitch, and then threw a wild pitch to move him to second.

Gendron took third on Logan Gordon's fielder's choice and scored on Hamler's second wild pitch.

Other than those moments, Hamler was in command. He struck out 10 over 6 1/3 innings.

"A pitcher likes to get into a routine, and he was in a routine, but then the routine was broken after every pitch," Peluso said. "I thought he did a great job keeping his composure."

"He's a bulldog. He's been awesome."

Waterford's Kyle Willoughby singled with one out in the first inning and stole second. He scored on Hoagland's single.

Hamler followed with a triple that right fielder Austin Lee couldn't track. David Zaldivar followed with an RBI single.

"We never recovered," Cooper said. "It's as simple as that. I thought our (starting) pitcher (Zachary Podurgiel) matched him pitch for pitch for pitch other than the first inning, and normally our defense is pretty good.

"Our pitchers did what they were supposed to do today. They kept us in the ball game. Our defense let us down."

n.griffen@theday.com

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