By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Five games into the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association season, Naugatuck has found some consistency with pitching and defense.
Naugy relied on a little of both this week as the team split a pair of games with Oakville.
Naugatuck head coach Mark Nofri has been waiting for the offense to come around, and it just seemed too little, too late July 5 as Oakville walked off with a 4-3 win in extra innings.
“We got our bats on the ball once again coming up with eight hits, but we did strand 11 base runners. We had our opportunities,” Nofri said.
Naugy tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the seventh, but a groundout double play was how they did it.
“Pitching is our strength,” Nofri said. “The defense is solid and has been making all the plays. It comes down to hitting. If we can start to put our bat on the ball with runners on base, we can have a very successful season.”
Derrick Jagello started the game on the mound for Naugatuck (3-2), and surrendered five hits and three runs and struck out eight in five innings. Nick Bruno pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits, one run and striking out five.
Mark Nofri went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Bruno had two hits and a run scored, and Austin Verab and Jon Chatfield drove in runs.
It didn’t take long for Naugy to get into the swing of things July 7 in the second game against Oakville in three days. The home team came out swinging and erupted for four runs in the first inning, setting the tone on the way to a 5-1 win.
Naugatuck pounded out 11 hits. Nate Deptula pitched a complete game, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.
“It felt good to come right out after them and put the pressure on them early,” Nofri said. “That is what we have been waiting for. Of course we did strand a few potential runs over the middle innings, but the defense backed up Nate and we came away with the win.”
Oakville had a base runner in the first, only to have Jagello, Nofri and Verab turn an inning-ending double play.
Nofri got Naugatuck started in the bottom of the first with a one-out single. The next five batters reached base, and that is what coach Nofri has been waiting for.
Bruno singled to left, and Verab sent one up the middle to chase home the first run. Jagello drew a walk, and Zach Royka hit a run-scoring single to left. Deptula got hit by a pitch, and McKenney drove in the fourth run of the frame. Chatfield, Bruno and Royka collected two hits each to lead the 11-hit attack.
Oakville managed to make some noise when Eric Goodson took a Deptula offering and sent it out of the yard in the fifth inning. It didn’t take long for Naugy to get that one back. In the bottom of the fifth, Finnbar Galvin scored on a Jagello triple for the final 5-1 outcome.
Naugatuck is scheduled to play a double-header versus Danbury this finish the week, followed by games against Oakville on Sunday set for Naugatuck High School at 1 p.m. and at Bethel on Monday at 8 p.m.