NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck baseball team had its share of missed opportunities this season, and that played out in the Class LL state tournament.
The No. 18 Greyhounds fell, 5-4, to No. 15 Stamford in the first round of the tournament June 3.
Evan Pellicia got the start on the hill and surrendered a two-out, two-run single as Stamford put three runs on the board in the second inning. Trailing 4-0 in the fifth, Naugatuck got back in it scoring two runs on RBI hits from Pellicia and Jason Bradley.
Spencer Dreher came in to throw the last three innings and the ‘Hounds made some noise in their final turn at the plate. Bradley (3 for 4, 3 RBI) belted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4.
Naugatuck had its opportunity with runners at first and second when a called third strike ended the game and the season for the ‘Hounds.
“I thought Evan and Spencer did a good job on the mound and gave us a chance to be successful,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “But we just couldn’t push across that last run. We weren’t blown out of any game all season long and it just came down to a play of two that could have went either way.”
The Greyhounds started the season sluggish but regrouped and went 7-3 in the second half of the season to finish at 11-9. Naugatuck outscored the opposition by a wide 64-32 margin during that stretch and secured a spot in the NVL tournament.
“We came in with 11 seniors and high expectations on the season,” Deller said. “It took a while for us to jell as a team but we really came together in the second half.”
Deller continued, “On one hand we are happy to have made the NVL and the state tournament. On the other hand we did end up with a .500 record during a league season where there were no standout teams running away with it.”
Pellicia was a big part of the second half run as he went 5-1 on the hill. Dreher was another solid arm in the rotation.
Naugatuck will lose both to gradation this year and need to find a new rotation to build around next season. Pellicia went 46 innings posting a 2.10 ERA and batted .389. Dreher put up solid numbers as well going 46 innings with a 3.65 ERA while batting at a .362 clip.
Pellicia, Josh Aviles and Torres were named to the All-Iron Division, and only Torres will be back to lead the Greyhounds next season.
Aviles came back from an injury to bat .421 for the Greyhounds this season. The only returner with productive marks is Torres, who had with a team high 18 RBI and 13 runs scored to go with an average in the low .300s.
Naugatuck will also graduate Brandon Caldwell, Matt Whitney, A.J. Torrice, Colin Leary, Chris Yacavone, Kyle Pyshna and Bradley.
The cupboard isn’t bare, though.
“We have some players who stepped up, like sophomores Corey Plasky on the mound and a solid hitter in Steve Marinaro,” Deller said. “Junior Kyle Torok took advantage of his opportunities especially on our new ball field. But we are losing a lot and there are going to be quite a few spots to fill next year. I see it more as a rebuilding year because we will be so young.”
Naugatuck does have a few hopefuls for next season who were added to the state tournament roster in sophomores Shane Swierbitowicz and Dave Kerns along with freshman Mike Plasky, Matt Pimpanelli and Joe Kwaak.