NAUGATUCK — Despite some slight hiccups in the beginning and end of the season, the Naugatuck Senior American Legion team heads into the state tournament in fine position.
Naugatuck (16-8) finished second in Zone 5, just two games behind Oakville. The top four teams in a zone qualify for the state tournament. Waterbury and Bethel clinched the final two spots in Zone 5.
It was a tight race among the top four Zone 5 teams all season, and Post 17 didn’t secure second place until its final game, a 6-1 victory against Shelton on June 15.
Will McDonald went 3-for-5, driving in two runs and scoring one against Shelton. Steve Marinaro had two hits, an RBI and a run, and Derrick Sampaio added two hits and two runs scored. Nate Deptula got the win on the mound, pitching a shutout in the final four innings.
The format for the state tournament is slightly complicated. Thirty-two teams qualify for the tournament. The northern zones and southern zones are divided into two divisions, each containing four “pods.” Each pod has four teams, and only the winner of each pod advances to the Super Regional, which is set to start July 28.
Naugatuck, which is in Pod G, is set to open the tournament against Branford on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Naugatuck High School.
Stanford (22-2) won Zone 4 and is the top seed in Pod G. The fourth team in the pod, either Meriden or Guilford, is still to be decided.
McDonald led Post 17 in batting average, on base percentage, doubles, triples, RBIs, and tied for runs scored with Corey Plasky during the regular season. Plasky led the team in stolen bases, and hits.
Naugy’s pitching was dominant during the regular season. Derrick Jagello had the best ERA (0.43) in the second most innings pitched, and also had the most strikeouts. He tied for the most wins with Nate Deptula.