BEACON FALLS — The Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion baseball team is not an easy out. For a team that has landed in the win column just once this season, opponents would be making a big mistake to look past this scrappy group of ballplayers.
Posts 194-25, with most players only in their second season, are a team filled with a lineup that consists of four freshmen and 10 sophomores. Senior Joe Fancher and juniors Ryan Flanagan, Anthony D’Agnone and Mike Conway are the veterans trying to hold this all together.
If the key to long-term success is in a strong foundation, PBF has certainly found the right architects for the project in general manager Jeff Clarke, head coach Don Ensero and assistant coaches Joe Steele, Dave Spofford and Tim Flanagan.
“These kids have been working hard and there is no quit in these kids,” Clarke said. “After going winless last season playing against opponents three and four years older than them, I was encouraged to see them all come back this season. That showed me what these kids are made of and we are starting to see the results of all that hard work. What they have built here is going to be successful for a long time to come.”
Two weeks ago, PBF celebrated its first win in two years and the squad did it with class and style making Post Commanders Bob Moraniec (Post 194 of Prospect) and Bruce Carlson (Post 25 of Beacon Falls) and all of its members proud.
This past weekend PBF showed the signs of a team that is right at the doorstep, taking Zone 5 leader Waterbury to the limit in a tough 6-5 loss. Posts 194-25 followed up that effort with a doubleheader loss to Danbury by margins of 4-3 and 2-1, with Danbury in the middle of a six-team battle for one of the last state tournament spots in the playoffs.
“We have pulled out all the stops,” Clarke said. “No one is throwing in a towel around here. We are stealing bases, being aggressive, not worrying about making an error and putting the ball in play. What we are doing is giving ourselves a chance to be successful. And with that attitude we came back twice against the best team in the zone.”
Waterbury led 3-1 when PBF rallied with two runs in the third to tie the game. Joe Poeta, Matt Wysocki and D’Agnone (two stolen bases) singled and Poeta scored on a wild pitch. Nate Clarke belted an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.
Waterbury went ahead 5-3 only to have PBF rally a second time with two more runs in the fourth. Wysocki (three steals) walked and Matt Butterworth singled in a run. Clarke followed with his second run-scoring single to tie the game at 5-5.
Waterbury plated the game-winning run in the sixth to earn the victory. PBF had runners at first and second with one out in both the sixth and seventh but couldn’t come up with the timely hit.
“We stole five bases and that kind of aggressiveness kept us in the game,” Clarke said.
Wysocki came through with a gutsy performance on the hill in the first game of the doubleheader with Danbury, allowing just one run in six innings. Kevin Gabianelli and Clarke scored in the first inning on a two-run double from Matt Spofford.
Butterworth singled and scored on a bunt from Clarke to give PBF a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh. Danbury plated three runs in the bottom of the frame to pull out the 4-3 win.
Spofford threw a gem in the nightcap, allowing single runs in the second and fifth. PBF had only four hits but got on the board in the sixth when Steve Kazalunas singled and scored on a base hit from Poeta. Danbury escaped with a 2-1 win.
PBF fell to Ridgefield, 1-0, on Wednesday before losing 11-0 to Bethel on Thursday. Posts 194-25 visit Monroe on Friday and Oxford on Sunday, and will close out the season at home on Tuesday against Oxford.