Early deficit too much for ‘Hounds to overcome

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Naugatuck senior Arber Mehmedi attempts to lay down a bunt Tuesday versus Simsbury. The Greyhounds were knocked out of the Class LL tournament by the Trojans. LARAINE WESCHLER
NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds managed 11 hits but couldn’t dig themselves out of an early hole as Simsbury took advantage of their opportunities to post a 7-3 victory over Naugatuck in Tuesday’s Class LL opening round game.

Naugatuck, 14-6, ranked 10th in Class LL took on the 23rd ranked, 10-10 Trojans of Simsbury and had senior Matt Zahornasky on the hill.

The Greyhounds put runners on base against Simsbury pitcher Matt Quintana but a pair of inning ending double plays kept Naugatuck off the scoreboard.

Simsbury took advantage of walks, a couple of errors and a few timely hits along the way to plate a run in the first and second inning to grab a quick 2-0 advantage.

The Trojans came into the Class LL first round game trying to get their season back on track. Simsbury closed out the regular season with only one win in its last five games.

Naugatuck has shown a lot of potential this season only to end up with disappointing losses as they were knocked out of the NVL tournament last week in the opening round.

Greyhounds head coach Tom Deller was hoping his charges would come out and grab the early momentum. But once Naugatuck fell behind their struggles continued for the remainder of the game.

“We are not a very good comeback team,” Deller said. “That’s why I told them we needed to come out and get the early lead. We had runners on base but a few base running mistakes and a couple of double plays later we put all the pressure on ourselves.”

Things went from bad to worse as Simsbury tacked on four more runs in the third as Adam Neveski came on in relief.

Dylan Sullivan delivered the clutch hit for the Trojans and the deficit grew to 6-0 with the Greyhounds still looking to get something started.

“We worked hard in practice to become a better team and I think we were a lot better than people thought we would be,” senior Arber Mehmedi said. “But every once in a while we would have a game like this and unfortunately it came in the first round of the state tournament.”

Mehmedi credited Quintana with mixing it up on the mound and keeping the Greyhounds guessing.

“Their pitcher was mixing up his pitches well and had an excellent curve ball that pulled away from you,” Mehmedi said. “Every time we put pressure on him getting runners on base he would use that pitch to bail himself out.”

Simsbury pushed the advantage to 7-0 in the fourth inning. A single, a walk and an error set the table as the Trojans loaded the bases. Connor Martinez sent a fly ball to right field that Ryan White hauled in for the out.

White unloaded a strike to the plate as Memhedi made the swiping tag but Andrew Girard snuck in for the run. The Greyhounds got out of further damage when a runner was thrown out at the plate on a failed double steal.

The Greyhounds finally got on the board in the sixth when Zac Mercer sent a blast over the fence in right center and the solo home run made it a 7-1 game.

Rich Pimental stroked a single and Neveski belted a double to put runners at second and third. Kyle Lopes came through with a run scoring single before Simsbury got the final out to end the rally.

Trailing 7-2 Naugatuck came to bat in the bottom of the seventh with one final shot to keep the season alive.

Quintana quickly retired two Greyhounds and Naugatuck was down to its final out. Mercer worked out a walk and Pimental slammed a solid single to left. Neveski chased home a run sending a double down the line in right.

But the comeback was not to be.

Runners were at second and third when Quintana pulled the string and struck out the final batter as Simsbury hung on for the 7-3 win.