Two of the four Tri-State Baseball League teams with local connections qualified for this year’s American Amateur Baseball Congress Stan Musial state tournament.
The Naugatuck Dogs and Waterbury Wild both qualified for the 16-team tournament, which began Tuesday, filled with teams from the four participating leagues throughout the state. The Musial tournament comprises of teams in the American Amateur Baseball Congress’s unlimited age bracket.
The Dogs have been the most successful local Tri-State team this summer, racking up a 16-3 regular-season record. After the state tournament, they return to Tri-State play to finish the league schedule Sunday at Bethlehem, with whom Naugy is tied for best mark in the league.
Naugatuck is led by several local players, including a trio of former All-Naugatuck Valley League selections from Woodland. Ken Graveline, Macky Cianciolo and Matt Kane are all multi-year players with the club and helped the Dogs reach last year’s American Amateur Baseball Congress Stan Musial state tournament.
Joining Naugy’s rotation this year was Matt Zahornasky, a former All-NVL pitcher with the Greyhounds. In his most recent start on Sunday, Zahornasky tossed a six-hit shutout with five strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Thomaston.
Also playing well for Naugatuck are Woodland grads Trent Levi, Devin Murphy, Kyle Faucher, Lance Stevens, Sean Miller-Jones, Jamie Kimberly and Jeff Sturm, the player-manager who tossed a shutout in a 1-0 victory against Waterbury on July 19.
The Dogs’ pitching staff has been their strength. Naugy is allowing only 1.84 runs per game, a half-run fewer than any other squad in the Tri-State League. The Dogs are also the third-best offensive team in the league, scoring just fewer than six runs per game.
Naugatuck is competing in one of four regions in the Musial tournament. The Dogs blew out Brookfield, 13-0, in their opener Tuesday, helped by a one-hitter from Gary Novakowski and a home run by Graveline. Naugy will host the Merchants on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Bridgewater on Thursday at 8 p.m., both at Naugatuck High.
Should the Dogs win their pool, they would advance to Saturday’s final rounds at Wall Field in Wallingford.
Close behind Naugatuck in the Tri-State’s South Division is the Waterbury Wild, led by another threesome who used to wear Black and Gold. Former standout Nick Boucher and former all-state selections Shane Kingsley and Jack DeBiase are three main cogs of the Wild, which sported an 11-7 record entering the Musial tournament.
Boucher and DeBiase are veterans of the Wild, while Kingsley returns to the diamond for the first time since graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2011.
Waterbury’s state tournament also began Tuesday in a 3-0 loss to Fedell’s. The Wild are set to host games at Municipal Stadium on Wednesday against the Tri-Town Trojans and Thursday against the Hurt.
If the Wild wins its pool, it will advance to Saturday’s final rounds in Wallingford.
The number of local connections to the Tri-State League grew this summer with the addition of the Ansonia Valley Vikings, a team which includes yet another three former Woodland standouts.
The team includes 2010 graduates Mike Diurno, Ryan Genua and Kyle Georgia. In their first season, the Vikings have posted a 6-11 record with three games left in the regular season. They will likely fall just short of the league playoffs, which are set to begin next week.
Prospect was also the home of a Tri-State team for the third season. The Chargers, who don’t have a home field, have struggled to a 1-17 record with one game to play.
Local players for the Chargers include John Augelli, Chris and Mike Valente of Prospect, Brian Langdon of Beacon Falls, and Naugatuck’s Zach Czaplicki.
2011 Woodland graduate Mike Masulli, a pitcher at Suffolk University, played this summer with the Thomaston Threshers.