Harding, Bassick struggle against long odds

Published on May 12, 2011 by

As the midpoint of the scholastic baseball season nears, it’s once again quite apparent that Harding and Bassick are struggling to even be competitive in the always tough FCIAC.

On Monday, Harding was routed by Greenwich 17-0 and Bassick didn’t even get a hit against two St. Joseph pitchers in an 18-0 defeat.

Unfortunately, such lopsided scores have been commonplace for the Presidents and Lions, who each dropped to 0-8 followng Monday’s action.

Harding and Bassick aren’t leaving the FCIAC– where would they go? — but you almost wish, for the sake of the players who do show up every day, that they could play in another league.

It’s never for a lack of effort, but the players on Harding and Bassick simply aren’t as talented as the ones on the perennially strong teams throughout the county like Staples, Greenwich, Wilton, St. Joseph, Trinity Catholic and Westhill.

While the FCIAC may not be quite as pitching dominant this season, last year it produced 10 pitchers who are currently playing for Divsion I college programs, which is remarkable.

The other problem, of course, is that Harding and Bassick sometimes barely have enough players to field a team, which makes it doubly tough to compete against much deeper opponents.

Then again, the situation at Central isn’t quite as dire as the Hilltoppers have been more competitive and actually have provided a ray of hope with a pair of wins against a playoff team from last season (5-1 over Ridgefield on (April 15) and a contender this year (5-4 over McMahon last Wednesday).

The Hilltoppers are 2-6, but their losses have been respectable, including a 4-3, eight-inning defeat to Trinity and a manageable 6-2 setback to powerful Staples.

With two games left against Harding and one remaining against Bassick, Central figures to chalk up a few more wins before the season is over.

As the halfway point of the season approaches, Staples and St. Joseph – both 9-0 — have emerged as the teams to beat. They are ranked third and second in the state, respectively.

The former hasn’t missed a beat despite graduating FCIAC player of the year Jack Hennessy (now running track at Boston College) and two Ivy League pitchers in David Speer (Columbia) and Jimmy Sikorski (Cornell).

Like St. Joseph, Staples features a potent lineup, along with solid pitching, a winning combination in any league. Ace Rob Gau tossed a four-hitter in a 4-1 win at Darien on Monday. Center fielder Ben Lipper is the table-setter in a lineup that has few weaknesses.

St. Joseph has five hitters batting higher than .400, including Conor Crouse, the son of the Cadets’ hockey coach,and third baseman Tyler Matakevich, an all-state linebacker in football.

Fairfield Warde (6-2), which features the pitching tandem of Dan Warren and Shane Goven, certainly has to be considered a contender along with surprising New Canaan (6-2), McMahon (5-2) and Danbury (5-2).

Currently holding down the final two playoff spots are Wilton and Trumbull at 5-3, but don’t discount Greenwich, which advanced to the FCIAC finals last season for the first time since 2005.

The Cardinals got off to an unexpected 0-4 start, but they have responded with four straight wins to climb back to .500 and appear to be gathering momentum for the second half of the campaign.

Fairfield Ludlowe is the defending FCIAC champion, but the Falcons are in a rebuilding mode after losing 12 players from last year’s team, including seven starters. They are 4-6 and may struggle to even make the state tournament.

In recent years, being a high seed in the FCIAC playoffs has been detrimental to the health of the top teams, as Staples found out last season as the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.

Of course, that is not something the Bridgeport schools would know anything about.