By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — After a two-week COVID-19 shutdown stopped the Greyhounds in their tracks the first week of the season, they responded by starting the year 5-0. But trying to make up for lost time has created a logjam of games, and some weary arms.
That can happen when you play 10 games in a little more than two weeks.
“We’ve been dealing with some injuries,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “Jon Chatfield, Ryan Galiette and Matt Kilmer have lost time due to injuries. Outside of Brady Evon, Ryan Sutherland and Alex Sosa, a lot of our pitchers are facing varsity lineups for the first time.”
Following the fast start, the Greyhounds lost six out of the next eight games and sit at 7-6 heading into the final week of the regular season.
Naugatuck was in every game, though.
The Hounds held a 3-0 lead over Oxford going into the fifth inning on May 7 before the Wolverines battled back to take a 7-3. Chatfield hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first to lead the Greyhounds.
Naugy came back the next day and knocked off then-undefeated Woodland, 6-4, in Beacon Falls. Woodland head coach Steve Bainer protested the game because Evon, who started the game for Naugy, exceeded the 110-pitch limit. The CIAC ruled Naugy had to forfeit the game and issued Deller a one-game suspension.
Evon had thrown 109 pitches before the seventh inning. He threw four pitches to the first batter in the seventh and recorded an out, then threw a pitch to the next batter. CIAC rules allow a pitcher to finish the batter to whom he throws his 110th pitch.
“What happened was my fault,” Deller said. “I thought we had one more batter to pitch to and I take full responsibility for that mistake. But no matter what the CIAC ruled, you can’t take away from the fact that our kids beat their kids on the baseball field.”
Deller said the environment at the Woodland was the most hostile he’s been in in his 25 years of coaching, and it fired up the Greyhounds.
“Instead of a sensible ruling like replaying the inning from that point or going back to the following batter, the CIAC decided the infraction of one pitch was worthy of taking the game away from our kids, but that is my fault entirely,” he said.
When the Greyhounds next took the field, they held a 7-6 lead against Wolcott in the fourth inning on May 11, only to have the Eagles battle back to win 10-7.
Freshman Andrew Tszyka took the mound in his first varsity experience, and Ryan Tszyka also pitched for the Greyhounds. Anthony Abate homered for Naugy. Sosa and Lucas McKenney had three hits each to pace the offense.
Naugy earned an 11-5 win over Derby on May 12. Sosa had two stolen bases and scored three runs. Chatfield scored twice.
Playing their third game in three days, Naugatuck fell to Watertown, 8-6, on May 13. Chatfield and Galiette each had two-run singles while Abate doubled and singled.
“People may see our record but what they are not seeing is that we are in all of these games,” Deller said. “We have the lead, but there are no silver linings. Trying to make up two weeks’ worth of games in the midst of your season is not an easy thing, and we have become arm-weary.”
The Greyhounds are set to play St. Paul on May 14, Torrington on May 17, Wolcott on May 18, and Ansonia on May 20 to end the regular season. The NVL tournament is slated to start May 22.
The Republican-American contributed to this report.