WATERBURY — With three games left in the regular season, Chris Sheedy made his season debut and gave a solid performance.
Naugatuck’s offense did the rest and smashed 14 hits to clinch a spot in the state tournament with an 8-3 win over Crosby on a chilly Tuesday night at Washington Park.
Josh Aviles delivered three hits, scored two runs and stole two bases, while Sheedy pitched a solid 3 1/3 innings in his first start of the season to earn the victory. The Greyhounds improved to 8-8 overall and know their season will continue beyond the regular-season schedule.
“We’ve been trying really hard to get the kids to swing at good pitches,” Naugy head coach Tom Deller said. “When we do, we hit the ball well.”
The Greyhounds scored in their first at-bat. John Dean worked a full-count walk with one out, stole second and scored on an Adam Tavares single up the middle.
Dean doubled with one out in the third and scored on a Kevin Mariano single to make it 2-0. Naugy capitalized on several Crosby miscues in the field and added two more in the third.
In the seventh, Naugy produced three insurance runs. Jason Bradley singled to score Dennis Murphy and Kyle Plasky smacked a two-run single.
Sheedy, held to a pitch limit in his return to the mound, threw 50 pitches with 35 strikes. He allowed two runs, two walks, four hits and struck out three before Tavares came on in relief to finish out the game.
“It’s nice to see Chris get a start and get on the mound,” Deller said. “Hopefully now he can throw again later this week or next week.”
Sheedy found himself in a third-inning jam. With no outs and a runner on first, Sheedy fell behind 2-0 to Crosby third baseman Jeremy Rodriguez. Following a brief visit from Deller, Sheedy recovered to strike out Rodriguez and retired the next two batters.
The right-hander said he felt good after the game.
“I think it’s important because I’ve been looking forward to get back on the field all year,” Sheedy said. “I can pitch again and I look forward to keep playing.”
The Greyhounds defense aided in the victory. Tavares started a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end a two-on, one-out rally in the first. Dean threw out Luis Morales on a second-base steal attempt to end the second inning.
With two out and bases loaded in the fourth, Bradley almost made the play of the night with a diving stop at short on a grounder from Rashan Hawk. Two runs scored after the ball deflected off Bradley’s glove and his flip to second for the force out was not in time.
Morales drove in the other Crosby run on an infield hit.
Naugatuck followed up the win over Crosby with a 4-3 loss to Kennedy Wednesday at Rotary Field in Naugatuck. Tavares had an RBI single for Naugatuck, which fell to 8-10 on the season, and Plasky had a single and scored twice. Spencer Dreher recorded three strikeouts.
Naugy wraps up the regular season at Rotary Field against Torrington Thursday at 6 p.m.