Post 17 battling for tournament spot

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck American Legion baseball team missed a chance to gain some valuable ground in Zone 5 over the weekend.

Post 17 racked up three wins last week and marched into the weekend looking to secure a spot in the state tournament.

Three straight games against Bethel (14-9), which is third in the zone, went down to the wire but ended in the loss column. Naugatuck fell to Bethel, 7-4, on Saturday and, 5-2, on Sunday.

Post 17 took a 1-0 lead in the sixth against Bethel on Monday only to have Bethel tie the game in the bottom of the frame and then score the game-winner in the seventh inning.

The loss dropped Naugatuck to 8-13 on the season, two games behind Oxford (10-12) for the fifth and final playoff spot in the zone with three games to play.

“We played Bethel tough in all three games,” Naugatuck second baseman Corey Plasky said. “They had good pitching, and the one game we had a chance to pull out they beat us on a walk-off.

“We scored runs in all three games. We had good pitching, but when it came down to it they are a very good team and came through when they had to.”

Naugatuck picked up three important wins last week in its drive for a spot in the tournament. Post 17 scored three runs in the second inning en route to a 6-1 win over Shelton on July 5.

The solid pitching of Zach Royka kept Shelton in check. Will McDonald and Jack Messina finished up in relief. Shane Swierbitowicz led the offensive with three hits, two runs and two RBI.

Derrick Jagello had two hits and two runs scored. Royka and Kyle Torok belted doubles, and Steve Marinaro and Jarrett Allen added RBI hits. Plasky drove in a run and McDonald scored a run to complete the Post 17 attack.

On July 6, Marinaro went three innings in a 5-3 win over Ansonia and added two hits and a run to pace the offense. Swierbitowicz went two innings on the mound with Torok and McDonald each throwing one inning of relief.

Jagello had two hits and a run scored in the win over Ansonia. Plasky belted a two-run double and scored a run. McDonald had a hit and an RBI with a run scored. Torok added a hit and Mark Nofri added an RBI.

Post 17 scored a 1-0 forfeit against Danbury on Saturday, before the first game against Bethel.

“We got into a little bit of a hot streak,” Marinaro said. “Then we ran into a very good Bethel team. It was an important series and we were in each game but they got more timely hitting than we did.”

Naugatuck closes out the regular season with a double header on Wednesday against Waterbury at Municipal Stadium at 5:45 p.m. followed by a game at Naugatuck High School against Oxford. On Thursday, Naugatuck will play the final game of the regular season at 5:45 p.m. at home against Oakville.

“We definitely have the ability to win these last three games,” Marinaro said. “Sometimes things don’t fall your way but that’s baseball. We had our share of games that a bounce here or there would have changed the outcome. But we just need to stay focused and finish the season strong.”