PBF ends season with string of losses

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Ryan Mariotti was one of the leading hitters for Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion Posts 194-25, but poor offensive production by the entire lineup led to a 4-22 overall record.

A difficult season for Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion Posts 194-25 ended last week with a final string of losses as its final record dropped to 4-22.

Two of PBF’s wins came early in the season: A 5-4 win in the season opener at Naugatuck and a 2-1 win the following week over Bethel. The last two were both in the first week of July: A 7-3 victory at Monroe and an 8-1 thumping of New Milford.

Those spurts of offensive production in the last couple of wins of the season were a rarity for PBF, which struggled to score runs for its consistent pitching staff throughout the season. Most of the team faulted the disadvantage caused by the switch to wooden bats for the Legion season.

“It’s a huge difference from metal,” shortstop Ryan Mariotti said.

“I think it was difficult for us to go from aluminum bats in high school to wood bats,” second baseman Mike Hardy said. “We also faced better pitching than we did in high school.”

PBF featured a strong pitching staff, including Woodland aces Tom Arsenault and Kyle Georgia, before Georgia went down with a hip injury in late June, which ended his season. Ryan Genua, Brian Langdon, and Mike Masulli also saw significant work on the mound.

“Pitching and defense were our strong points,” Mariotti said. “We had a rotation that could go deep into the game and defense that could keep the game close.”

Prospect-Beacon Falls was also debilitated by a shrinking roster throughout the season due to injuries and dropouts. By the final game, PBF had an active roster of 10 players.

“I think if we had more kids we could have had more pitching,” Hardy said. “It would also have given the coaches more players to put in different positions.”

This shortage of players hurt Posts 194-25 during a stretch in late June, when the team played eight games in eight days, losing all eight.

“Fatigue and sore arms kicked in,” Mariotti said of that streak. “We didn’t play as well, and injuries hurt us, too.”

Despite the difficulty of the season for the team, the year was not a total loss, Genua said.

“This season as a whole was a failure but there were plenty of positives,” Genua said. “We never gave up. No matter what the score was or who we were playing, we played hard. As a team, we grew a lot through the season. The players who did not play every day became solid everyday players.

“We also learned things we need to work on in the offseason as individuals and as a team,” he continued. “Another positive is we have everyone back next year except for one player, so the core of our team is all back.”

That probability of most of the team returning next summer will hopefully translate into success, Mariotti said.

“It was a long, tough season,” he added, “but look for this team to turn it around next year and be determined to make states.”