By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — At the start of spring, the borough faced the possibility of no Little League baseball for the first time since Peter J. Foley Little League started in 1949.
The COVID-19 pandemic put the season in jeopardy, but through the determined efforts of league officials, coaches and parents, Little League baseball in Naugatuck enjoyed an historic summer.
For the first time, Peter J. Foley Little League and Union City Little League came together to culminate the season — one that almost didn’t happen — with an interleague, double-elimination tournament.
“Back in March we weren’t even sure we were going to have a season,” Peter J. Foley President Rob Didato said “But no matter what happened, even if we didn’t get to play a full season, this interleague tournament was in the works since January.”
“It took a combined effort of Union City and Peter J. Foley board of directors, coaches and parents to make this happen and give these kids a season to remember,” he added.
Three teams from each league formed the tournament field. The Peter J. Foley Indians were the top seed, followed by the Union City Blue Jays, Peter J. Foley Cardinals, Peter J. Foley Athletics, Union City Nationals and Union City Orioles.
The Blue Jays and Athletics made it to the championship round, where the Blue Jays claimed the title with an 11-2 win in the final game.
Logan Stone pitched the A’s past the Blue Jays in a 5-2 win to set up the final game.
In the final, the A’s took an early 2-0 lead after Reagan Baxter and Alyssa Posila scored runs in the second and third innings, respectively. Liam Abbott shut out the Blue Jays through three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, Dylan Accetura reached on a one-out error and Tyler Accetura belted a no-doubt-about-it home run over the fence in right center to tie the game at 2-2.
The Blue Jays batted around in the inning. JJ Antigua knocked in two more runs on a single to right, and when the dust settled the home team was on top 6-2. A five-run fifth inning sealed the win for the Blue Jays.
Tanner Robillard pitched five solid innings for the Blue Jays and Noah Robillard closed it out in the sixth.
“Very proud of this team,” Blue Jays head coach Chad Accetura said after the final game. “They came ready to play. We really came together in this tournament. The A’s gave us a rough time the last game, but we came out and got it done.”
The Athletics surprised a few opponents along the way to the championship round.
“Just to get the kids out there on the field and have a season was a huge success for both leagues,” A’s head coach Ken Stone said. “We were in the middle of the pack as far as seeding and records went, but once the tournament started these kids stepped up.”
“We had a big win against the number one seed and we had to play the number two team and beat them to get to the championship game,” Stone added. “I’m proud of my kids, but the Blue Jays are a tough team, as they showed.”
Accetura said the championship was a great ending to a roller coaster of a season.
“Going from the season may be canceled in March to having a season and then winning the championship, it doesn’t get better than that,” Accetura said. “Some of these kids this was their last year, and what a way to end it.”