The Naugatuck American Legion baseball team had the state tournament in its crosshairs, winning four of six games, including a three-game winning streak.
Naugatuck, with six games left on the schedule, needed to win out to finish above .500 and qualify for the postseason.
On Monday, Post 17 dropped a double-header to Bethel putting an end to the late season playoff push.
The turn around began a week ago, when Tyler Lafo went the distance in a 4-1 win over Bethel. That stopped a five-game skid as Anthony McKernan provided the fireworks tallying 3 RBIs on two doubles and a single.
Post 17 was tied up at 7-7 in the second game of the double-header with Bethel when the game was suspended to this past Monday.
Naugatuck went on to sweep the Prospect-Beacon Falls Legion the next night to make it a three-game winning streak.
Matt Zahornasky was outstanding in the first game of the doubleheader, tossing a five-hit, complete-game shutout for a 1-0 victory.
Nolan Kinne scored the games only run in the first inning, coming around to score on an RBI single from Zach Dreher. In the nightcap, McKernan went five innings on the hill to pick up the win, as Mike Burns went the final two innings to nail down the save in the 8-3 win.
McKernan unloaded a triple and a single, good for 3 RBIs, and Zahornasky belted a run scoring triple to pace the offensive attack.
“We are starting to get some timely hitting,” Naugatuck coach Bob Dibble said. “Our pitching has really given us some solid performances. Tyler did a good job up in Bethel and Matt was just outstanding against Prospect. We started to get a little thin with all the games in such a short period of time and Anthony gave us five solid innings.”
Naugatuck dropped a tough one to Oxford, 9-4, putting an end to the winning streak. But, a few days later Adam Neveski got Post 17 back into the win column.
Neveski threw a complete game against Danbury in a 4-2 victory. Ryan White led the charge for Naugatuck with two RBI singles to pace the offense. Kinne scored a run in the sixth and McKernan added another RBI double.
At 8-13 on the season, Post 17 needed to win the final six games, beginning Monday with a crucial double-header versus Bethel. The first game for some unfinished business, the completion of the 7-7 tie, and a second game followed.
Dreher pounded a two-run double in the top of the ninth to put Naugatuck on top 9-7. In the bottom of the frame a misplayed ball over second base, a walk and an error at third loaded the bases.
Bethel dashed Post 17’s playoff hopes by belting a bases-clearing double to beat Naugatuck 10-9 loss. Naugatuck fell in the nightcap by a 3-1 margin.
“It’s a tough way to end it, especially since we took the lead in the top of that inning,” Dibble said. “But, this is a great group of kids, and we are looking forward to this weekend and try and go out on a positive note.”
Naugatuck will have a double-header at home Friday starting at 5:45 p.m. against Waterbury. Post 17 will conclude the season with a double-header at home on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.