Hounds hardball back on winning track

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NAUGATUCK — Greyhounds baseball coach Tom Deller was a little nervous entering his team’s May 13 game against Seymour. Despite Seymour’s 6-9 record, Deller knew the Wildcats were a dangerous team that could extend Naugatuck’s losing streak to three.

Naugy responded with a win.

After the Seymour game, Naugatuck won two more games to turn a tense situation into another winning streak. All three victories in the last week had one thing in common: Each game featured solid pitching performances by the Hounds.

It all started in that meeting with Seymour. Matt Zahornski pitched a complete game, striking out six, to halt the Greyhounds’ skid.

“Matt has been pretty solid for us all year,” Deller said.

Anthony McKernan, Naugatuck’s hitting star of the week, doubled, singled twice, drove in two runs and scored a run to help lift Naugatuck to an 8-5 win over the Wildcats. Erich Broadrick, one of the team’s best hitters over the last six games, also had two hits for the Greyhounds.

Two days later, Adam Neveski was even better in a 3-1 win over Ansonia. The sophomore struck out eight in a three-hit, complete-game performance.

“Adam’s game was one of the best games we’ve pitched all year,” Deller said. “He kept hitters off-balance and hit his spots.”

Neveski leads the team in appearances and has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise for the Greyhounds this year.

“Adam has done an outstanding job,” Deller said. “His strike-to-ball ratio is great, his first-pitch-strike ratio is great, and he always seems calm.”

Rich Pimental and Matt D’Agnone both had RBI doubles for Naugatuck to aid Neveski.

On Monday, Mike Kennedy went four solid innings before being relieved by Brandon Halbert in a 5-2 win over Wilby. Kennedy, recently returned from a knee injury suffered before football season, made his third appearance on the mound and pitched well.

“Mike’s pitching is something that can really help us,” Deller said.

McKernan doubled, tripled and drove in two runs in the win over Wilby. Deller said the team’s coaching staff has always been impressed by McKernan’s swing.

“When he puts the fat part of the bat on the ball, he hits it a long way and hard,” Deller said.

Other hitters, such as Halbert, Zack Dreher and Zack Mercer, could give the Greyhounds enough punch in the lineup to be a contender down the stretch. Even with a 12-6 record, Deller said he refuses to take any game for granted.

“We could win any game or lose any game,” Deller said. “We’re not good enough to take any game lightly.”

The Greyhounds are scheduled to finish the regular season with games against Holy Cross and Kennedy.

Deller said he’s proud of the team, especially considering how much the Greyhounds struggled last season. Naugatuck won just seven games in 2009 and entered this season with many question marks.

“We’ve had a nice season, given what we expected,” Deller said. He later added, “I’m happy for the kids.”