WATERBURY — The Naugatuck Greyhounds Sandy Koufax baseball team had a summer to remember.
The state champions advanced to the North Atlantic Regional tournament last weekend at the newly-refurbished Municipal Stadium in Waterbury with a chance to move on to the Sandy Koufax World Series in Tennessee.
Naugatuck (20-9) went 1-2 in the double elimination tournament. Naugatuck opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Passiac, New Jersey, July 14. Naugatuck was eliminated after losing 15-0 to Overlook on July 15 and 6-2 to River Vale, New Jersey July 16.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” said head coach Mark Nofri, who along with assistant coaches Jon Jagello and Bob Bruno guided Naugatuck to the state title. “Three years ago when we started with this group of kids at the Mays Division we went 4-16. Now here they are state champs. The first team in the Naugatuck travel program to win a state title.”
The Naugatuck travel program is the design of Naugatuck High School head baseball coach Tom Deller. The program began four years ago with a 9-10-year-old Willie Mays Division, the 11-12-year-old Pee Wee Reese Division, the 13-year-old Nolan Ryan Division and the 14-year-old Sandy Koufax Division.
In 2014, the Naugy Koufax team won the regular season title but lost in the state championship game to Seymour. They did advance to the North Atlantic Regional tournament as the host team for winning the regular season title and went 1-2 in the tournament.
In the win over Passiac, Derrick Jagello pitched six innings, scattered just four hits and struck out four. George Cruz scored two runs for Naugy. Derek Sampaio and Nick Bruno delivered key hits in the victory.
“The kids came out and grabbed the momentum taking the first game of the tournament,” Nofri said. “We kind of let the game against Overlook get away from us. We handed them their only loss during the regular season.”
After the 15-0 loss to Overlook, Naugy tried to bounce back with Sampaio going six plus innings against River Vale, surrendering seven hits and striking out three. Mark Nofri and Jay Mezzo each had two hits and scored the runs for Naugy.