Post 17 in the thick of Zone 5 battle

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck American Legion senior team last ruled Zone 5 in 2007. Heading down the homestretch of this season, Post 17 is vying for the top spot once again.

Naugatuck stands at 12-6, one game behind zone leader Oakville (11-3) and tied for second with Bethel (11-5). Waterbury is fourth with an 11-6 record.

All four teams are on pace to secure a spot in the upcoming state tournament. The zone winner will get a bye into the state’s double elimination round, while the other three teams face off in a round robin single elimination play-in.

Post 17 faced Waterbury, Oakville and Bethel this week, winning two of the three games.

Naugatuck’s Derrick Jagello went the distance, pitching a three-hit shutout, in a 6-0 win over Waterbury Sunday at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.

Waterbury loaded the bases with no outs in third on two singles and a hit batter, but Jagello got out of the jam.

“The key was to try and keep them off balance and I used my curve ball to do that,” Jagello said. “The guys in the field really helped me out, and when things got tough I just kept my head down and kept throwing strikes.”

Third baseman Jonathan Chatfield provided all the defense Jagello needed. Chatfield recorded six assists at the hot corner, including an inning-ending double play in the fifth to keep the shutout intact.

Steve Marinaro led the offensive assault, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and one RBI.

“Once the ball starts getting through we just all jump on that wave, and it’s been a key to our offensive production lately,” Marinaro said. “These last two weeks of the season are very important to us, as we have a shot at the top spot. Our pitching has been incredible all season long.”

Will McDonald had a hit and two runs scored, and Austin Verab had two hits and three RBI, including a two-run standup double that hit the base of the left field fence at the 382 mark.

Waterbury won eight out of 10 games heading into the game against Naugatuck.

“To our kids’ credit they took advantage of the opportunity, and the offense really has come on,” Naugatuck manager Ron Plasky said.

Plasky added, “Derrick did a phenomenal job, as has our entire pitching staff all season long.”

On Monday, Chris Flynn authored a crafty two-hit shutout in a 5-0 win against Oakville.

Naugatuck erupted for five runs in the sixth to come away with the victory. McDonald, Verab, D.J. Kirpas and Mark Nofri hit singles in the inning, and Derek Sampaio hit a successful suicide squeeze. Jarrett Allen delivered an RBI single, and Corey Plasky hit a two-run single.

“Right now we are getting contributions from everyone,” Plasky said. “The pitching is solid, the defense is making the plays, and the hitting is throughout the lineup.”

Post 17 dropped two straight after the win over Oakville.

Naugatuck fell, 3-0, to Bethel on Tuesday. Nathan Deptula pitched four innings, surrendering three runs in the second aided by a pair of errors. Bethel got a lead-off double and plated three runs without getting another ball out of the infield.

A 2-1 loss to Shelton followed on Thursday. Post 17 stranded runners on base and couldn’t come through with the key hitting that has been the team’s trademark of late.

Naugatuck will play Washington on Saturday to start the final stretch of the season. Next features two games against Waterbury, and games versus Oakville and Bethel.

Post 17 will finish out the season July 15 at Shelton. The American Legion state tournament is scheduled to start July 19.