NAUGATUCK — It’s not as much about how one starts as it is how one finishes. The Naugatuck American Legion Post 17 senior baseball team ended with an 11-16 record, out of contention for a Zone 5 title.
But Naugy concluded the campaign with a 6-4 win over Monroe last week with Seth Mulhall throwing a complete game.
Jon Bisson, Ryan White and Sean Dibble led the offensive assault, each going 2-for-3 at the plate for a Naugatuck team that went 7-4 in the last two weeks of the season.
Head coach Bob Dibble, along with assistant coaches Darryl White and Tom Burns, helped to turn it around after a slow start by Post 17.
“When we showed up every day we could compete with anyone,” Dibble said. “We beat Oakville (Zone 5 winners five years running), Bethel and Oxford twice, and [Oxford] made the final 16 for the first time ever.”
Post 17’s top pitcher, Matt Zahornasky, and right fielder, Sean Dibble, were six-year players. Zahornasky led the team in wins the past two seasons and Dibble batted .350 with a .500 on-base percentage.
Junior Legion head coach Paul D’Agnone, along with assistant coaches Matt D’Agnone and Zach Dreher, helped to get the younger players ready to be an asset to the senior team.
John Dean, Chris Anderson and Mike D’Agnone were brought up from the junior team and helped Post 17 down the stretch.
“We brought up a couple of young kids from the junior team and they helped us turn the corner,” Dibble said. “For the most part we have a solid team coming back with only two players who have played out their eligibility.”
Pitcher and infielder Adam Neveski and centerfielder Nolan Kinne are two-year players and will lead the club heading into next season.
“We certainly have some shoes to fill losing Zahornasky and Sean,” Dibble said. “But I like the leadership skills of Nolan and Adam. If we put our nose to the grindstone we can compete for the zone next season. We have a solid nucleus coming back and a lot of experience. I don’t see why we can’t be competitive.”
Post 17 gained a lot of experience this season with Karl Johansen, Mulhall, White, Charles Healy, Zac Mercer and Kyle Lopes enjoying productive first years at the senior level.
The pitching staff is as deep as it needs to be with Mulhall, Lopes and Kinne throwing complete games this season and they will be the core of an experienced staff come next year.
“I thought a lot of our first year guys did a real good job adjusting,” Dibble said. “I think if we could have started earlier and been a solid unit at every game we would have been a threat for the Zone.”