The Naugatuck American Legion baseball team got the season underway last week, and from the early results Post 17 will lean on strong pitching.
Three games into the season, Naugatuck is having trouble putting runs across the plate. Post 17 got shut out 1-0 against Oakville Post 195 on June 8 and 2-0 versus Shelton on June 10.
Shane Swierbitowicz went the distance on the hill against Oakville and surrendered just four hits. Post 17 had its shot at it with Zach Royka belting two hits, including a double. Kyle Torok also cranked a double with Steve Marinaro and Swierbitowicz adding base hits.
Royka took the mound against Shelton and scattered four hits through six innings as Naugy stole seven bases to try and manufacture runs. Derrick Jagello had a single and a walk with two stolen bases. Mike Patton had a hit and two stolen bases. Jarrett Allen worked out three walks and stole two bases.
“Our pitching is strong,” Post 17 head coach Robert Swierbitowicz said.
Swierbitowicz is trying to blend three high school teams into one Legion team with the help of General Manager Paul D’Agnone and assistant coaches Gabe Torok and Christopher Saunders.
“It’s going to take a little time to jell together,” he said. “We have kids from Pomperaug, Woodland and Naugatuck. They need to get used to playing together that could be the reason for the errors early on.”
“It’s also going to be an adjustment going to the wood bats,” Swierbitowicz added. “But we are getting our bat on the ball and it’s only a matter of time before those hits start falling in.”
Naugatuck broke into the win column on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Ansonia. Marinaro struck out four and allowed four hits and a run in five innings on the mound. Patton pitched three innings of no-hit ball in relief to pick up the win in eight innings.
Corey Plasky was moved out of the leadoff spot and came through with two hits, two runs and two stolen bases in the number two spot. Matt Butterworth took over as the lead batter, and the switch by coach Swierbitowicz got the job done.
Will McDonald belted two hits with an RBI. Marinaro delivered the other hit for Post 17.
“We are hitting the ball hard we are just not getting the bounces right now,” Swierbitowicz said. “Ansonia got three of their hits in the third inning. After that, Steve and Mike threw five innings of no-hit baseball.”
Swierbitowicz said pitching will definitely be the key to the team’s success. Post 17 may be without one of the pitchers for a little bit.
Shane Swierbitowicz cut his hand and will be out 10 to 14 days, coach Swierbitowicz said.
“He may be able to pitch since it’s not his pitching hand, but I don’t want him to pick up a bat until he’s healed,” the coach said.
As the season gets going, Swierbitowicz said his team is ready for the grind.
“We have a very deep and talented team and should be in the running for the Zone,” he said. “I expect big things from these kids. They are all in it for the long haul. It’s a tough six-week grind, but they are ready for the battle.”
Naugatuck will play a doubleheader on Saturday with a 3:45 p.m. start at Naugatuck High School against Bristol and then a 7 p.m. game at Municipal Stadium versus Waterbury.