NAUGATUCK — The American Legion baseball season is winding down to its final week of the regular season with several teams clinging to their chances at a playoff spot. Waterbury Post 1 is the Zone 5 leader at 19-2 with Oakville (17-5) in the second spot and Bethel (11-8) third.
That leaves a six-team logjam for the final two playoff spots as Ridgefield, Monroe, Oxford, New Fairfield, Danbury and Naugatuck all have eight wins. Post 17 controls its own destiny as it gets to face off against Ridgefield, Oxford and Danbury before all is said and done.
Naugy has a near-perfect scenario, playing at home this weekend looking for some hometown support as it takes on Oakville on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Rotary Field. Post 17 will be at home again on Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. game against Danbury.
“We have been running out of pitching,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Dibble said, referring to the five games Post 17 has lost by two runs or fewer. “You can never have enough pitching but lately that has been the case losing games in the later innings. This is it: We have a tough week ahead of us and we need to come together and get it done.”
Naugatuck suffered a tough 2-0 loss at Oakville last week and came back looking for a win against Ridgefield on Saturday. Ryan White took the mound and went 5 2/3 innings, striking out four. Adam Neveski and Chris Anderson finished up on the hill with Ridgefield scoring one in the seventh to tie it and one in the ninth to earn a hard-fought 8-7 victory.
Post 17 collected eight hits, led by White with two hits, two RBI and a run. John Dean had two hits and two runs with Jon Bisson and Mike D’Agnone each scoring a run. Neveski and Anderson added one hit, a run and an RBI with Seth Mulhall and Mike Burns adding hits.
“That was a tough one to take,” Naugatuck general manager Paul D’Agnone said. “Ryan gave a solid five innings and then we couldn’t hold them off. We hit the ball but we had situations where a timely hit would have ended it right there and it just didn’t come.”
On Sunday Naugatuck wasted another stellar pitching performance from Dean, who pitched a complete-game six-hitter with five strikeouts but came up on the short end of a 4-2 final to Bethel.
Kyle Lopes ripped a double and a triple but didn’t manage a run. Both hits were with two outs and Post 17 failed to cash in on both occasions.
“That has been what we’ve been up against,” D’Agnone said. “Obviously missing Nolan Kinne at the top of the order has really affected our offense. Nolan is supposed to be back and hopefully that will jump start our offense heading into the playoffs. We have a big week ahead of us.”
Burns and Anderson had two hits and one run to pace the offense against Bethel. Dean added a hit and an RBI and White added a hit for Post 17.
Naugatuck is scheduled to travel to Waterbury on Thursday. Post 17 then hosts its two big weekend games against Oakville and Danbury before going on the road to face Oxford July 15 and Waterbury July 16.