NAUGATUCK — In the pursuit of victory there is always the mystic of the home-field advantage. The Naugatuck baseball team was destined to play all its games on the road this season due to construction at the high school.
Last Friday the Greyhounds finally came home to Rotary Field but couldn’t take advantage of the familiar surroundings, dropping a 9-1 decision to Ansonia.
Naugatuck uncharacteristically committed five errors, resulting in six unearned runs. Chris Sheedy doubled and scored on a groundout by Evan Pelliccia for the only Greyhound run in the sixth.
Naugy left fielder Scott Sill said the return of baseball to the borough didn’t matter much to the ‘Hounds.
“As far as the home-field advantage, I really don’t see it as that much of a big deal,” Sill said. “A baseball field is a baseball field. Being on the road all the time is a bit of a hassle but I really don’t think it has any effect on how you play the game.”
Naugatuck (5-7) played its fifth technical home game on the road this season when it lost a 6-0 game at St. Paul. John Dean went the distance on the hill, scattering eight hits and striking out four. Josh Aviles led the Greyhounds with a single and a double. Jake Kawiecki tossed a four-hit shutout for the 10-3 Falcons.
Two games into the second half of the season the ‘Hounds are on a two-game losing streak and need to get back in the win column if they have any expectations of reaching the postseason. Naugatuck has lost four games by a total of six runs and with any luck could be looking at a 9-3 ledger.
The one thing the Greyhounds cannot do is go back and change the results on any of the 12 games that have already been played. But in the next eight games they have the ability to pave their own destiny.
“I don’t see any of us just mailing it in,” Sill said. “For some of us this is the end of our high school career and I know none of us want to go out that way.”
Naugy is not going into the final stretch of the season empty-handed. It has one of the toughest leadoff batters in Aviles, who showed that tenacity by bowling over the Sacred Heart catcher for the team’s first win of the season a few weeks ago.
The ‘Hounds have a solid infield with Adam Tavares at third base, Jason Bradley at shortstop and Kyle Plasky at second base. The middle of the order, with Tavares, Kevin Mariano, Spencer Dreher and Sill can hit with power.
“I think through this adversity it has drawn the team closer together,” said Bradley, a co-captain. “We just need to go out there and have confidence in one another. If we can bring some positive energy into the dugout it will also show itself on the field. No team is invincible and we have the potential to be in very game.”
Naugatuck has a competitive four-man pitching staff of Tavares, Dean, Ricky Plasky and Dreher. The Greyhounds will have three legitimate home games at Rotary Field the rest of the season: Holy Cross on Monday, Wilby on May 13 and Torrington on May 16.
“We have a lot of young guys on this team,” said Dean, another co-captain. “We only had a few guys returning so that may have been a factor in some of the earlier games that got away from us. There have been times that if something goes against us early, like the home run in the first inning against Ansonia, it just makes it tougher the rest of the game. Once something goes our way we tend to all feed off that. But we do have the talent to play with any team.”
Naugy, still alive for postseason berths, will play an important game Wednesday at Derby before returning home Monday against the Crusaders.