Stone hurls Fairfield Prep past Amity
FAIRFIELD -- Kevin Stone's first assignment of the 2014 season pitted him against the same team that eliminated Fairfield Prep in the LL semifinals last year.
As if opening against Amity -- the defending state champion and the No. 3 team in the baseball preseason poll -- wasn't difficult enough, the Jesuits ace was forced to work around a rough day in the field on Wednesday.
In trouble in the fifth inning with two on and no outs, Stone buckled down and stranded the potential tying run at third base. He spurned another threat later.
Stone scattered seven hits in a complete game as Prep edged Amity 3-2 in the season opener for both teams.
"It's just one of those things," Amity coach Sal Coppola said. "The kid beared down and was tough when he needed to be. You've got to give their pitcher credit."
Prep's Austin Crane led off the fifth with a bunt single, advanced to second on a throwing error and scored the go-ahead run later in the inning on a misplayed grounder.
The Jesuits made four errors, but a diving catch in left field by Brett Stevenson with two on in the fourth prevented Amity from taking a lead.
"If it wasn't for our left fielder defensively, we lose that game," Prep coach Rudy Mauritz said. "It's good to know that you can beat a good team."
Stone took the loss in last year's LL semifinal (3-2 Amity), but stymied the Spartans in his season debut. He struck out five and walked only one in a 98-pitch outing.
"Our game plan was just to establish the fastball early, get ahead in the count, keep them off-balance with the off-speed," Stone said.
The junior got sharper as the game progressed, retiring eight in a row from the fifth inning to the seventh.
Stone worked out of trouble in the seventh after a single and an error put two on with two outs. He coaxed Matthew Ronai into a grounder to shortstop to end it.
"He started getting the ball down, which is what he needs to do," Mauritz said. "You can't leave the ball up, especially against good hitters."
Prep -- the No. 10 team in the preseason state poll -- managed six hits off Amity starter Nick Fusco. Third baseman Simon Whiteman had the lone multi-hit game for the Jesuits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Fusco went the distance for Amity, striking out three and walking none.
"He was really in command, I thought, throughout most of the game," Coppola said. "He deserved a little bit better."
AMITY 002 000 0 -- 2 7 3
FAIRFIELD PREP 200 010 x -- 3 6 4