NAUGATUCK — It may have gone unnoticed last season, but an impressive second-half run carried the Naugatuck baseball team into the NVL tournament after a slow first half to the season.
The 2016 Greyhounds have put themselves in a much better position to go on a run the second half of the season.
Last year, Naugatuck started 3-5 and finished 11-9. This season, the Greyhounds have doubled the amount of wins (6) before five losses compared to last season. If the Greyhounds can find the same rhythm as they did in the second half of last season, they can have their fourth year in the last six with more than a dozen wins.
The Greyhounds have worked to put themselves in this position.
One hard-fought victory came April 21 against Fairfield Ludlowe, an out-of-league opponent from the FCIAC. Naugy went into extra innings for the second time in ten days and prevailed, 6-5.
Corey Plasky led the way for the ‘Hounds with three hits while Shane Swierbitowicz and Devan Aviles chipped in with two RBI a piece.
Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said although Ludlowe had only one win going into the game, it’s still a good team that his squad defeated.
“It was nice to see them fight back and win that game,” Deller said. “Those guys (Ludlowe) play in a whole different league than us. A 1-7 record in the NVL is not the same as a 1-7 record in the FCIAC.”
Earlier last week, Naugy took down Holy Cross (7-3) in arguably the Greyhounds’ biggest statement win so far. In a 2-0 victory, Joevanni Torres went five innings for the Greyhounds before Steve Marinaro pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Joe Kwaak led the way at the plate with two hits and an RBI.
“Holy Cross always has a very good team, and you always want to play well against a very good team,” Deller said.
The victory against Holy Cross was the start to an impressive winning streak that continued through the Ludlowe victory.
That momentum was stopped last Friday when Naugy visited St. Paul. The Greyhounds jumped out to an early lead, but the Falcons (10-1) ended up being too much as they won, 11-3.
St. Paul may very well be the best team in the NVL this season but Deller said the loss was a combination of tough pitching from the Falcons and a tough day on the mound for the Greyhounds.
“I think the kids seemed a little intimidated by St. Paul’s pitcher, Connor Crean, and the fact that he was throwing hard,” Deller said. “It was also our sixth game in eight days so our pitching essentially hit a brick wall at that point.”
The Greyhounds bounced back with a 17-2 win over Kennedy on Monday.
Devan Aviles led the way at the plate with a home run and three RBI against the Eagles. Torres added a single, triple, three RBI and three runs scored.
Naugy is on a roll as they have won four of their last five and will carry that momentum into the second half of the season. For a young team that lost 11 seniors from last year, Deller said the team has much more potential and youth should not be an excuse.
“I am not satisfied at all with our 6-5 record,” Deller said. “We are a young team, yes, but this whole league is young. I know of quite a few teams in the NVL that are starting two to three freshmen every game. It does not matter if you are a freshman or a senior. When you put on that varsity uniform, you got to go out and play.”
The Greyhounds improved to 7-5 on Wednesday with a 4-1 win over Sacred Heart. Marinaro had five strikeouts and allowed four hits on the mound while adding two hits and a run scored at the plate. Aviles scored two runs and Swierbitowicz added a single and a RBI.
Naugatuck will travel to Torrington on Friday before hosting Cromwell on May 2.