Local sluggers excel in Tri-State League

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It’s the league that’s sometimes forgotten about, but it showcases some of the best baseball around.

The Tri-State League recently concluded its regular season and its best teams started play in the AABC Stan Musial state tournament on Tuesday with several local players involved.

The league, which has teams throughout the Naugatuck Valley, western Connecticut, and even Amenia, N.Y., is an unlimited age division and has been in existence in some way or another since 1934.

Out of the 17 teams in the league, three—the Naugatuck Dogs, the Prospect Homers, and the Waterbury Wild—feature local talent.

The Dogs are comprised heavily of players from Naugatuck and Prospect, including former Woodland High School and University of Rhode Island pitcher Ken Graveline.

After setting nearly every offensive and pitching record at Woodland and posting a career 19-9 record with the Rams, Graveline is continuing his baseball career close to home and has established himself as one of the league’s best pitchers.

In fact, he pitched a three-hitter with four strikeouts to lead the Dogs to a 7-4, first-round win in the Musial state tournament Tuesday night against the Bethel Outlaws.

Graveline also added an RBI triple and two runs scored. Kyle Faucher singled, doubled, and drove in a run, while Bob Augelli had a two-run double and Devin Murphy had an RBI single.

The Dogs finished the Tri-State regular season with a 9-8 record (they still have one makeup game before the Tri-State league tournament which starts next month) and were the last squad in the league to qualify for the Musial state tourney with a seventh-place finish.

Prospect, in its second year of existence, posted a 2-16 record, which was tied for 15th in the league. The Homers have a number of players from Prospect, including several Woodland alumni, and the surrounding area.

Though the Waterbury Wild aren’t necessarily a local team, they feature two Woodland alumni—Nick Boucher and Jack DeBiase.

Boucher is having an excellent season as an infielder and pitcher, posting a 3-0 record, including a three-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts earlier this season. DeBiase patrols the outfield for the Wild and has brought his powerful bat into the team’s lineup.

Boucher said he enjoys everything about the league.

“I like the league because it’s competitive,” Boucher said. “I have a lot of fun on my team but we’re all there to win.”

Waterbury finished the regular season with a 13-5 record, fourth-best in the league and best of any team with local ties. The Wild’s first-round state tournament game was rained out, so they were scheduled to play Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the Bellows of the Bridgeport Senior City League.

Naugatuck will continue state tournament play Thursday at 8 p.m. at Rotary Field in the borough against the winner of Wednesday’s game between the Connecticut Reds and the Connecticut Sticks.