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Dusty's road back helps New Haven beat Fitzgerald PHOTO GALLERY

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PItcher returns from ACL surgery

For a guy who wasn’t expected to play baseball this spring, Tyler Dusty has been a key to New Haven’s success in the MAC Bronze Division standings.

On Wednesday, the New Haven junior – who had ACL surgery last fall following the special-teams play that finished his football season – made his third start on the mound this spring for the Rockets.

A crafty righthander, Dusty was simply outstanding, surrendering one earned run on five hits in New Haven’s 6-3 win at Fitzgerald. He walked four, struck out seven, and stranded seven base runners.

In March, coach Joel Schmitt figured the Rockets would likely have to play the season without Dusty. But the coach has been pleasantly surprised by the junior’s progress.

“I was thinking districts, at the earliest,” said Schmitt, about is pitcher’s possible return. “But he has worked his tail off and he’s getting better and better. He threw six strong innings today. Sure, he had a couple of oops in there, but he battled the whole time.

“Honestly, he looked like he was throwing harder as the game was going on.”

Fitzgerald went up 1-0 when starting pitcher Colton Haberek (two singles, two runs, steal) scored from second on a fielder’s choice in the third. The Rockets made it 1-1 when Robbie Randall, who led off the fourth with a walk, eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.

Haberek pitched four hitless innings, allowing two earned runs on eight walks and seven strikeouts. He worked into the fifth inning, throwing 92 pitches, and exiting only after the first two batters reached on walks.

“He’s a gamer and wanted the ball,” Fitzgerald coach Paul Hrycaj said. “I just felt that after that second walk it was time to draw this day to a close for him.”

New Haven (11-0, 14-2) chipped away at the Spartans’ bullpen, getting four hits, including three doubles by Trevor Dusty (two runs), Spencer Douglas (two RBI) and Randall (one run, two RBI).

The Rockets used a three-run fifth inning to build a 4-1 lead. Fitzgerald cut its deficit to 4-3 when Darwin Polanco (two steals) scored on an error and Haberek cross the plate on a groundball.

New Haven added two more runs in the sixth. The big hits for the visitors were Randall’s two-run double in the fifth and Douglas’s one-run two-bagger in the sixth.

“I kept telling the guys, ‘We’ve got to make them work,’’ Schmitt said. “(Haberek’s) pitch count was coming up and we were struggling. I think we were getting a little antsy and put too much pressure on ourselves. Finally things started rolling our way.”

With one out, Fitzgerald (6-4, 7-7) put the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh when Haberek reached on an error and Christopher Eddy and Giancarlo Polanco walked. But Randall, who worked the final inning for New Haven, struck out the next two batters to preserve the win.

“You’re not going to win every baseball game that’s close,” Hrycaj said.

Last Updated: 5/10/2017 10:10:27 PM EST