BY KEN MORSE
The summer baseball season is trying to wrap up its regular season with the postseason rapidly approaching.
Already at the end of July, the Naugatuck Legion 19U team captured its first zone title in 16 years, going 14-7. Post 17 wound up one and a half games ahead of Milford Post 196.
Naugy 19U was second in the zone in runs scored with 149 and allowed the least amount of runs with 104.
The Naugy Legion 17U team finished first in Zone 2, going 19-5, one game ahead of Milford. The Junior Legion team scored a zone-high 168 runs and allowed the second-least amount of runs with 72. Head coach Kevin Cestari led the juniors in what he said was a strong contingent of former Peter J. Foley and Union City Little League players.
“Honestly if the town put those two leagues together they would be making a run at Williamsport every season,” said Cestari. “We had players from four different towns but a majority of the team was made up of those former Little League players.”
Pitching is what drove the Naugy 19U team to the zone title. When push came to shove, Post 17 won their fair share of close games with pitching leading the way. Naugy picked up three wins against Milford – completion of a suspended game followed by a doubleheader – on the same night, July 11, at Stratford’s Penders Field. Those wins helped Naugy secure the zone.
“We had a strong core of pitchers,” said Post 17 coach Jim Duda. “We had a large roster and that helped when we had players away on vacation. I can’t wait to see how good this team is when they are all available and we field an entire team.”
Duda mentioned Brady Evon, Andrew Tyszka, Tyler Giambra and Blake Stone as the top of the pitching rotation with Ryan Donnelly, Ryan Montini, Anthony Abate and Joseph Matusovich being the top hitters. Naugy 19U was scheduled to begin play in the state tournament on July 21.
“The entire team has really played key roles throughout the season,” said Duda. “We had one player Jacob Brenes who hadn’t pitched in a couple of years, and he went out there and gave us two stellar starts including a shutout of a very good Orange team. That’s the kind of talent we have on this team.”
The Naugy 17U team began the state tournament July 18, earning a 2-0 win over RCP on the strength of Colton Hoffman going 6? innings with Jose Guzman earning the save. Kevin Cestari and Isaiah Brenes scored the only runs for Post 17.
“We have 11 pitchers,” said Cestari Sr. “And as strong as the pitching is, we have 13 of 16 batters hitting over .318.”
Damon Abate (4-1, 1.96 ERA) and Kevin Cestari (4-0, 0.62 ERA) lead the pitching staff with James Crilly, Jacob Baxter and Hoffman picking up a pair of wins each. What is rocking the world for the 17U team is a battling lineup led by Cestari (.462), Brendan Cummings (.432) and Logan Stone (.404) all topping the .400 mark. Guzman leads the club with 21 runs scored and has 14 RBIs. Cestari leads the team with 18 RBIs and has 16 runs scored. Stone has scored 15 runs and driven in 15.
The Naugatuck 19U and the 17U teams will be looking to carry on their success this summer as they advance in their respective state tournaments.
Naugatuck Valley leading Senior Babe Ruth
The Naugatuck Valley Horned Frogs improved to 4-1 on the season and are trying to make up for lost time after having three straight games rained out.
“We have two games coming up this weekend and four more scheduled for next week,” said coach Derek Palange. “It’s a good thing that we have pitching depth because we are going to need it to get through this tough stretch.”
The Horned Frogs received two strong performances on the hill, winning a 13-1 game over Hamden on July 5 with Nate Jennings going the distance, scattering three hits and striking out 10. Tyler Lato belted a triple and Damian Lavertue added a double to key the offense.
Dakota Palange threw a complete game three-hitter and struck out 11 in a 3-1 victory on July 9 over Norwalk at Ray Legenza Baseball Field. Matt Gunny and Ethan Valentino played great defense behind the pitching of Palange.
The Horned Frogs dropped their first game of the season on July 13, falling to Norwalk by a slim 4-3 margin. Gunny set the tone on offense with two hits, including an RBI double.
BY KEN MORSE