WINDSOR — The Naugatuck baseball team’s season came to an end last week with a 5-1 loss at Windsor in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament.
Naugatuck hasn’t won a state tournament game since 2007.
Naugy starter Matt Zahornsky went the distance for the Greyhounds and pitched well enough to win. However, the Naugy offense was shut down by Windsor’s Devin Over, who allowed one run and two hits in a complete-game performance.
“The kid had a fastball,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said of Over, “and he challenged us.”
Windsor scored twice in the second and once in the third to take a 3-0 lead through three innings. Naugatuck scored its only run in the sixth on a Zack Mercer sac fly that scored Arber Mehmedi, who had one of the Hounds’ two hits.
Zach Dreher, Naugy’s top hitter with a .364 average, had the other hit
Deller was pleased with Zahornsky’s day on the mound. The junior, who led the team in strikeouts (52), wins (6) and ERA (2.16), had four strikeouts and threw strikes.
“He pitched pretty well,” Deller said of Zahornsky, who earned all-NVL status this season. “He’ll be a college pitcher somewhere.”
The loss capped the season for a team that had low expectations relative to a program steeped in rich baseball history. The game and its ensuing result may have summarized the season — a respectable finish for a team that played very well at certain points, but had the potential to do even better.
The Greyhounds won six of its first seven games, and were 9-4 at one point. The team lost four of its next seven to finish the regular season at 12-8.
“We weren’t expected to do very well going into the season,” Deller said this week. “But, right off the bat we did good.”
It seemed the team didn’t know how to handle the early success. Deller said the Hounds worked all year to respond to challenges.
“It’s a competitive sport,” Deller said, and later added, “We’re from Naugatuck, people know Naugatuck and people want to beat Naugatuck.”
After the regular season ended, Naugy lost in the first round of the NVL tournament to Derby, and dropped its state tournament game on June 2.
The loss ended the high school baseball careers for Naugy’s Matt D’Agnone, Brandon Halbert, Dreher, Mike Kennedy, Anthony McKernan and Adam Blanchard. Despite the lukewarm final result of the season, Deller praised his team for its overall body of work.
“We had a very nice season,” he said.
The Garnet and Grey will return a strong starting squad next season. Players like Mercer, Mehmedi, Zahornsky, Erich Broadrick and Adam Neveski will return and be expected to perform.
The message for all players coming back is simple.
“We told them, ‘Don’t come back any worse than you are now,’” said Deller, who underscored that players need to return next season ready to play and improve throughout the year. “We can compete in our league next year.”
Deller said the team must fill several needs. For example, the squad lacks a pure shortstop, and the coach put out a challenge to anyone who wants the position.
“Somebody has to go out and getter better between now and March and take the shortstop position,” he said.