PROSPECT — It’s been more than four years since the Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion baseball team flirted with double-digit win totals. Last year, Posts 194-25 was the youngest group of baseball players in Zone 5 and the growing pains were evident.
But what was also noticeable was the fact that these kids were growing up fast and gaining a whole lot of confidence along the way.
The defense started to come around and then the pitching took hold. This season PBF is looking to swing for the fences and rise in the ranks of Zone 5. It coincides with the success of the Woodland High baseball team, which just had its best season in four years.
It couldn’t have come at a better time as the town of Prospect celebrated the opening of the new baseball field at Hotchkiss Park last Saturday with Baki’s Pizzeria and Oliver’s Market donating the food for the dedication ceremony.
The field of dreams was six years in the making and the community pitched in with Moffo Construction making a substantial donation and Testa Building and Remodeling donating the dugouts.
The new field will mix with a corps of veterans that PBF hopes will add up to success.
“We have a solid core of players who have progressed and gained experience,” PBF head coach Jeff Clarke said. “I think the success that the high school team had will carry over, and we have two veteran leaders in Tanner Kingsley and Mike Gondola. We have players who are now juniors and seniors and are ready to take the next step. The biggest difference I’m seeing this season is we are more consistent putting runs on the board.”
There may still be some growing pains to work out as PBF dropped a tough doubleheader to start the season against Bethel at Hotchkiss Field last Saturday by slim margins of 4-3 and 3-2. The difference from last year is that Posts 194-25 was in both games from start to finish, something that has eluded them over the past four seasons.
“We are playing competitive ball,” said assistant coach Don Ensero Sr., entering his ninth year in the dugout. “We dropped a couple of tough ones last Saturday. But the last game we had the tying run at third base and we popped up the bunt for a double play to end it. We had the right idea, and we put ourselves in that position to be competing. This is going to be some season.”
PBF is led by All-NVL and All-State player Kingsley, who can pitch, play first base and the outfield after leaving Woodland with the second-most hits (88) in school history.
Gondola is the other true leader on this team as both players are hitting .500. Sam Merriman and Mike Tuohy are putting up .400 clips at the plate, and Mike Kenney will try to carry over his success on the high school diamond.
Posts 194-25 has a solid rotation to work with, led by pitchers Matt Wysocki, Matt Spofford, Anthony D’Agnone and Nate Clarke. PBF will also use Matt Butterworth, Dylan Cummings, Kevin Gabianelli and Steve Kazalunas out of the bullpen. Robert Stach and Ryan Flanagan will see duty behind the plate along with Gondola.
PBF got a game performance out of Matt Spofford against Naugatuck on Tuesday as he went the distance in a six-hitter, but took a 5-2 loss. Outfielder Andrew Spofford took away a hit when he hauled in a deep fly to right field to end the third inning.
Posts 194-25 cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth when Butterworth singled and scored on a double from Gondola. PBF loaded the bases in the seventh and had the tying runs on base after Sam Venable singled and back-to-back walks to Merriman and Flanagan made it a 5-2 margin, but it could not pull any closer.
PBF will host Waterbury on Thursday then visit Monroe on Saturday at Masuk High for a doubleheader.