NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck Post 17 snuck back into the race for a Zone 5 title last week taking four of five games.
The win outburst included two out of three against first place Bethel. Naugatuck lost a heart-breaker in the opener of the three-game set with Bethel, dropping a tough 7-6 extra inning decision June 25.
Adam Tavares went seven innings on the hill. He allowed two runs in the bottom of the seventh as Bethel tied the game and sent it to extra frames.
Tavares also paced the offensive attack with two triples, three runs scored and three RBIs. Josh Aviles had two hits and two runs as Rick Plasky added a hit.
Naugatuck plated four runs in the sixth to come back from a 3-1 deficit. Bethel scored two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to come away with the win.
“We came within one out from sweeping the first place team,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Dibble said. “That is how much talent there is on our team, when we can put our entire team on the field.”
Post 17 showed that talent the following night when they went out and swept Bethel in a double-header at Rotary Field by margins of 5-4 and 6-0. John Dean went the distance in the opener, scattering six hits and striking out four.
Chris Anderson led the locals at the plate with a home run and three RBIs. But it took a walk-off solo home run from Ethen Mester in the bottom of the seventh to send this game into the win column.
Rick Plasky took the ball in game two of the twin-bill and pitched a masterpiece. Plasky threw a two-hit shutout as Naugatuck pulled off the sweep.
Plasky added two hits at the plate. But it was a two-run triple from Tavares and a two-run double from Aviles that set the offensive tone.
“Ricky gives us a chance to win every time he’s on the mound,” Dibble said. “He had a great game against Bethel and gave us a couple of good at bats at the plate. He has been our workhorse all season.”
Spencer Dreher made it two straight shutouts in a row and showed the kind of pitching that could get Naugatuck deep into the Legion state tournament. Dreher delivered a tidy three-hitter with six strikeouts on Saturday in a 6-0 win over Easton.
Tavares hit his fourth triple in three games knocking in two runs as Post 17 took over the game with a five-run third inning. Anderson and Rick Plasky added RBI hits in the third with Kyle Plasky, Dreher and Tavares all crossing the dish.
“We have been able to close the gap in the Zone,” Dibble said. “A lot of that is timely hitting but we wouldn’t be able to make them count if it wasn’t for the solid pitching we are getting.”
On Sunday Naugatuck showed its mettle earning a hard fought 4-3 extra-inning battle with Oakville.
Aviles toughed out six innings on the mound to give Post 17 a fighting chance. Rick Plasky came on to pitch the final two innings to earn the win, as Naugatuck scored the game-winner in the eighth.
Plasky drew a walk in the eighth and advanced on a single from Jason Bradley. Kevin Mariano reached on a throwing error sending Plasky home with the winning run.
“We could be a game or two better in the win-loss column but we are right there with four other teams,” Dibble said. “Actually the schedule favors us heading down the stretch. If we can put up 16 or 17 wins we should be able to knock off a few teams that are ahead of us.”
Post 17 fell to Monroe 8-4 on Tuesday and lost the first game of a three-game series with Danbury 4-0 on Thursday. Naugatuck stands at 7-7 on the season and four games out of first place.
Naugatuck continues its series with Danbury Saturday with a double-header at 12 and 2 p.m. in Danbury. Post 17 will conclude a busy weekend with a visit to Waterbury on Sunday.