By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck came up clutch in a pair of games this week to climb to the top of the Division 5 standings in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association.
A 3-2, extra-inning win over Bethel on July 13 was followed by another extra-inning affair July 16, this one a 4-2 win at Danbury.
Naugatuck improved to 5-2 with the wins, and how Naugy got it done showed signs that this is a team to be reckoned with.
Nate Deptula went the distance against Bethel. He pitched eight innings, allowing one hit and striking out 12.
Walks — 10 total — and wild pitches aided Naugy’s cause at the plate. Derrick Jagello walked and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Jon Chatfield drew a walk and scored on a wild pitch in the third inning to give Naugy a 2-1 advantage. Nick Bruno had two hits, including a double, to pace the Naugy attack.
Two walks and a double helped Bethel tie the game at 2-2 through six innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, Chatfield scored the game-winning run on a clutch, bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Deptula.
“Bethel is a well-coached team and it’s always a challenge to go up there and beat them,” Naugatuck assistant coach Jon Jagello said. “Another outstanding effort from Nate going all eight innings.
“This was a real grind-it-out kind of game. Both teams struggled with hitting, but we took advantage scoring on two wild pitches. And then when we needed a clutch at bat, we got it.”
Naugy came up clutch again three days later, scoring two runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 4-2 win over Danbury.
Alvin Torres drew a walk in the ninth and Lucas McKenney was walked to set the table. Ryan McCarthy belted a run-scoring single to break the 2-2 tie and bring Torres home, and Tristan Crelan hit a sacrifice fly to score McKenney for an insurance run.
Jagello pitched six solid innings. He scattered five hits, allowed two runs and stuck out five. McCarthy, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, pitched three shutout innings to close out the game and pick up the win.
Naugy took the early lead when Crelan and Finnbar Galvin scored in the third inning on a Nick Bruno triple. Danbury tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning and it stayed that way until the ninth.
“Not only are we getting it done and coming up clutch, we are having guys step up in the lineup to get it done,” Jon Jagello said. “Austin Verab is out with an injury and our best hitter, Mark Nofri, is away on vacation and guys are stepping up filling those spots and getting it done.
“Torres, McKenney, Crelan, Galvin stepping up big time, and the way Ryan (McCarthy) came in and just shut them down was huge, and then he gets the go-ahead run in the ninth.”
Jagello likes what he sees from the team.
“The team is really starting to come together and we are showing our potential,” he said. “We have a big week coming up with two against Winsted and a home game on Tuesday against Danbury.”
Naugatuck is scheduled to play at Oakville and Winsted this weekend followed by games against at Danbury Tuesday and at Winsted on Wednesday.