BY KEN MORSE
They say you can’t win them all. However, you can certainly change the mindset of the players in the dugout to believe in what they are doing and to believe in each other. That is a special commodity to have and is almost as important as having a star player to carry the load.
“Like I have been saying since day one, there are no easy wins,” said Naugatuck baseball coach Joe Iannotti. “Not in this league.”
Naugatuck (5-2) may not be built to win every game they play but the belief they have in each other will go a long way in molding a team that compete with the best of them by season’s end.
“We are not going to put too much focus on one game or one opponent until it comes to tournament time,” said Iannotti. “We need to get there first and that should be our focus. One at bat, one pitch, one inning, one game at a time.”
The Greyhounds showed just what that philosophy looked like when they shrugged off a 12-0 defeat at the hands of St. Paul and ripped off four straight wins. On April 20 they faced the Falcons in a rematch with similar results, taking a 15-2 loss.
“One game does not negate everything we have done till this point,” said Iannotti. “St. Paul is legit. They reached the Class S championship game last year, going 18-1 (in the regular season) and hitting over 40 home runs. They have the same hitters back and have strong pitching. The only thing we can do is go out there every day and get better every day.”
Dylan Sepulveda and Mike Rusin each had a hit and a run scored to pace the Hounds offense against the Falcons.
St. Paul improved to 7-0 on the season and has 14 home runs so far, mercy-ruling five of the seven opponents along the way. Naugy will face another huge challenge on Friday April 22 against Woodland (5-1).
The Greyhounds showed the ability to make the most out of their chances when they escaped with a 3-1 win over Watertown on April 16. Naugy was held to just one hit over six innings but took advantage of three walks, an error and a balk to plate three runs in the fourth inning.
Blake Stone got the job done on the hill, keeping the Greyhounds in the game long enough to pull out the win. Stone went five innings and struck out five to earn the win.
“Blake pitched a great game for us and gave us a chance,” said Iannotti. “We played very well defensively. That is our strength, pitching and defense. Watertown is a good team. In fact there are a lot of good teams in the NVL besides St. Paul. There are no easy wins in this league.”
Naugy did show they have some pop in their bats as well ,unloading on Torrington on April 18 with a pair of six-run outbursts en route to a 12-5 win over the Raiders. Matt Stefan went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
Sepulveda added two hits, two runs and two RBI and Rusin went 3-for-4 at the plate, scoring a run and driving in two runs.
The Greyhounds will be looking to pick up some ground after the showdown with Woodland as they face Oxford at home on April 25, host Ansonia on April 27 and finish off the week at Crosby on April 29.
BY KEN MORSE