For the second consecutive summer, the Naugatuck Dogs are state champions.
The adult baseball team, which plays its regular season in the Tri-State League, captured the American Amateur Baseball Congress’ Stan Musial state title Monday night at Municipal Stadium with a 4-1 win over Fedell’s of Bridgeport.
Former Woodland Regional High all-state pitcher Ken Graveline pitched a gem, allowing just three hits while also knocking an RBI single in the third to give himself a 1-0 lead. Naugy never trailed, adding runs in the fifth and sixth to capture the title.
“I wanted this one real bad and I know the guys did, too,” Graveline told the Republican-American. “I just let them put the ball in play and let my awesome defense do the work.”
The Dogs will play in the North American Baseball Federation regional tournament starting next week in West Haven. The winner of the tournament will advance to the NABF World Series in Buffalo, N.Y.
Naugatuck is led by several local players, including a trio of former All-Naugatuck Valley League selections from Woodland. Graveline, Macky Cianciolo and Matt Kane are all multi-year players with the club.
Joining Naugy’s rotation this year was Matt Zahornasky, a former All-NVL pitcher with the Greyhounds. In a start two weeks ago, Zahornasky tossed a six-hit shutout with five strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Thomaston.
Also playing well for Naugatuck are Woodland grads Trent Levi, Devin Murphy, Kyle Faucher, Lance Stevens, Sean Miller-Jones, Jamie Kimberly and Jeff Sturm, who tossed a shutout in a 1-0 victory against Waterbury on July 19.
The Dogs’ pitching staff has been their strength. Naugy allowed only 1.84 runs per game in the Tri-State season, a half-run fewer than any other squad in the league. The Dogs are also the third-best offensive team in the league, scoring just fewer than six runs per game.
Several other teams in the Tri-State League have local connections. The Waterbury Wild is led by another threesome who used to wear Black and Gold. Former standout Nick Boucher and former all-state selections Shane Kingsley and Jack DeBiase are three main cogs of the Wild, which sported an 11-7 record entering the Musial tournament.
Boucher and DeBiase are veterans of the Wild, while Kingsley returns to the diamond for the first time since graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2011.
The Wild was eliminated earlier in the state tournament but will compete in the Tri-State League playoffs after winning the South Division. Its first game is set for Sunday.
The number of local connections to the Tri-State League grew this summer with the addition of the Ansonia Valley Vikings, a team which includes yet another three former Woodland standouts.
The team includes 2010 graduates Mike Diurno, Ryan Genua and Kyle Georgia. In their first season, the Vikings posted an 8-12 record.
Prospect was also the home of a Tri-State team for the third season. The Chargers, who don’t have a home field, struggled to a 1-19 record.
Local players for the Chargers include John Augelli, Chris and Mike Valente of Prospect, Brian Langdon of Beacon Falls, and Naugatuck’s Zach Czaplicki.
2011 Woodland graduate Mike Masulli, a pitcher at Suffolk University, played this summer with the Thomaston Threshers.