NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck American Legion senior baseball team has put itself in great position in Zone 5 with four games left to play the regular season.
Post 17 won three out of its last four games to improve to 11-9, a stretch that included games against the division leaders in the zone.
In a shootout Tuesday, Post 17 prevailed 10-7 over Bethel (11-9), a win that temporarily gave Naugy the southern division lead.
Trailing 7-4 in the seventh inning, Tristan Crelan and Mike Natkiel belted doubles to score three and send the game into extra innings. Derrick Jagello had the big hit of the night, a three-run double in the eighth that brought in the winning runs.
Jagello went 4-for-5 with four RBI, while Natkiel added two hits and four RBI. Justin Marks chipped in with three hits and two runs scored.
“Bethel simply outplayed us the first five innings,” coach Jon Jagello said. “After the fifth inning, we brought the team together and the first thing we noticed was that the team was still very loose and relaxed and showed no signs of being down on themselves. Nick Delucia was fabulous in relief, picking up the win as he shut down Bethel for 3 2/3 scoreless innings.”
Coach Jagello said the team got a big momentum boost from splitting a doubleheader with Washington — the best team in the zone — on Sunday.
“It was nice to go into Bethel Tuesday night with a 10-9 record as opposed to 9-10,” he said.
Naugy took game one versus Washington, 3-0, in extra innings behind another brilliant pitching performance by Nate Deptula. Despite giving up five hits and four walks, Deptula pitched eight scoreless innings, lowering his season ERA to an astonishing 0.88 in 39.2 innings.
No one scored until the ninth inning, where Deptula delivered a two-run single to push Naugy’s lead to three.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Washington held a 6-0 lead after four innings. Naugy made it interesting by scoring two in the sixth and three in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as Washington added three runs in the seventh to hold on for the 9-5 victory.
Austin Verab had two hits and two RBI for Naugatuck and Zach Graveline added three hits and a run scored.
With the top four teams in Zone 5 earning a state playoff spot, Naugatuck looks to be on its way to securing a postseason berth.
Washington has the best record in the zone at 14-5. Post 17 is tied with Bethel at 11-9 with Oakville holding on to the fourth spot at 10-8. Danbury (10-11) is just 1.5 games behind in the southern division, which sets up an intriguing game between Post 17 and Danbury on Saturday at Naugatuck High School.
Naugatuck will travel to Oakville Sunday and Washington on Monday before concluding the regular season on Tuesday at home versus Shelton.
It will be four games in four days for Post 17, and it looks like Naugatuck have to at least split those games to feel comfortable in Zone 5.