NAUGATUCK — One way to end up in the win column is to not let the opponent score. A feat that’s easier said than done, but that has been the key to success for the Greyhounds on the diamond this spring.
Through the first 13 games of the season, Naugatuck posted a 7-1 mark in games in which the Greyhounds’ pitching staff put up a combined stingy ERA of 0.62 and allowed just five runs. A 1-4 mark over the other five games has Naugy battling with a host of other teams for a spot in the Naugatuck Valley League tournament.
“You have St. Paul, Holy Cross, Wolcott and Woodland as the top four teams in the league,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “Then there is a bunch of us fighting for the last spots in the league tournament.
“We missed it on the last day of the season last year and we don’t want to be in that position again. But we can’t just expect to keep shutting teams out. We are going to need our offense to start picking up the slack.”
Naugatuck is led by left-hander Nate Deptula on the mound. The senior has a 4-1 record, a 2.41 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 32 innings. He has pitched in three of the Greyhounds’ five shutouts so far this season.
On May 1 at Oxford, Deptula threw an 83-pitch masterpiece in a 2-0 eighth-inning win. Deptula tossed 62 pitches for strikes, allowing just three hits and striking out seven.
Oxford had runners at second and third with no outs in the sixth inning, but Deptula dialed it up a notch and struck out the next three batters.
“Nate is a four-year player,” Deller said. “He bided his time pitching for the freshman team and then worked with the JV team as a sophomore. He got some varsity experience last year, and now he is making the most of his opportunity this year and is giving us a chance to be successful every time he takes the mound.”
Naugatuck came through at the plate in the eighth versus Oxford. Mike Patton drew a lead-off walk, Mark Nofri singled and with two outs Zack Royka delivered the game-winning hit.
Deptula isn’t alone on the mound. Royka and Ryan McCarthy have notched complete games, and Derrick Jagello has worked deep into ball games this season. Nick Bruno and Jon Chatfield are also viable options out of the bullpen.
In a 3-1 win over Watertown on Saturday, Royka and Jagello combined on a three-hitter with six strikeouts. Royka allowed the three hits over six innings and struck out four while Jagello pitched a hitless seventh and struck out two.
Jagello also singled and drove in a run for Naugatuck, which improved to 9-5 with the win.
Naugatuck showed some of that pitching prowess in a 4-0 win over Kennedy April 29.
Jagello pitched 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, striking out five. McCarthy went 2 2/3 innings, and the two came within one out of a combined no-hitter.
Nofri, Mike Natkiel and Royka each had two hits, and Chatfield delivered a pair of doubles to lead the offensive attack against the Eagles.
Naugatuck is scheduled to play Derby, Crosby, St. Paul and Torrington this week. The Greyhounds will end the regular season next week with Wolcott and Ansonia. The NVL tournament is scheduled to start May 18.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version published in the May 9 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on a game played after press time.