STRATFORD — Preston Williams showed he’s a team player.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander for the Stratford High baseball team spun a seven-hit shutout and scored the game-winning run off a sacrifice fly by Zach Fedak to carry the Red Devils to a 1-0 SWC victory over town rival Bunnell on Friday at BHS.
“I just wanted to go out there and get a win for my team, that’s all that really mattered here,” Williams said. “It didn’t matter about individual performances, it’s all about beating Bunnell and doing everything I can to help the team.”
Williams certainly did help his team as Stratford (11-7 overall, 7-4 SWC) closes in on a SWC playoff berth and, possibly, a home playoff game in the state tournament.
In addition, the Red Devils hold on to the Robert J. Eisenberg Trophy after splitting with the Bulldogs (7-11) this season.
“It’s a big win,” Stratford head coach Mick Buckmir said. “When you have an in-town rivalry game you throw the records out. It was a great ballgame and both pitchers were throwing up zeroes. We were just fortunate enough to get a guy on third with less than two outs, two strikes, and we get a fly ball to score a run and sneak out of here with a win.”
The coach went on to praise Williams but admitted he battled.
“Although he was throwing up all those zeroes, there were innings where he was laboring with his delivery and his legs,” Buckmir said. “He gutted it out and did an outstanding job, especially being a senior.”
Like Buckmir said, Williams and Bunnell starter Brett Batka put up goose eggs on the scoreboard. The former struck out two, walked two and hit a batter while the latter went six-plus innings, giving up one run on seven hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Each pitcher escaped damage by stranding seven runners apiece.
“I thought Brett threw well enough to win once again,” said Bunnell head coach Juan Lopez, whose squad needs one win in its final two games to secure a state tourney spot. “We had a couple opportunities and we didn’t cash in.”
One such opportunity occurred in the first inning when Cullen Roper doubled with one out. Following a fly out, Justin Herrera singled to center with Roper heading for home but Fedak, the center fielder, threw out Roper trying to score and end the inning.
“I had to come up firing and got him right on,” Fedak said. “We would’ve went to extras if I didn’t throw him out. Coming down to the final out, that’s a big play in the game and I’m really happy. It’s great beating your rival team from across town.”
Batka seemed to tire in the seventh when Williams singled up the middle and No. 9 hitter Mike D’Aloia, who was looking to sacrifice, instead walked and Batka was lifted for lefty Colin Richards to pitch to two straight lefty batters.
Braydon Seaberg, who had a long double in the first, hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners and he eventually stole second.
Fedak then laced a 1-2 pitch to center with Roper making the catch but the fly ball was just deep enough to plate Williams for the lone run of the game.
Williams pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, striking out the last batter of the game.
“This is a huge win,” Williams said. “It puts us at 11 (wins) and we want to get to our goal which is 12. We’re another step closer to being in the SWC title race and then we’re trying to get a home state game.”
Stratford rounds out the regular season by hosting Masuk on Monday and will be at Joel Barlow on Tuesday.
Bunnell, meanwhile, will be at Brookfield on Monday and the Bulldogs host Kolbe Cathedral on their Senior Day on Tuesday.
STRATFORD 1, BUNNELL 0
STRATFORD 000 000 1 —1 7 0
BUNNELL000 000 0 —0 7 1
Records: Stratford 11-7, 7-4 SWC, Bunnell 7-11, 2-9. Batteries: S—Preston Williams (W, 2-3) and Anthony Torreso; B—Brett Batka (L, 3-6), Colin Richards (7th) and Justin Herrera. 2B: S—Braydon Seaburg; B—Cullen Roper, Taylor Perry.