By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck Post 17 is vying for a postseason spot, as the American Legion baseball season races down the homestretch of the regular season.
The Senior Regional tournament — a 32-team, single-elimination tourney — is set to begin Aug. 3. The first- and second-place teams from each zone automatically advance to the Senior Regional. A regional qualifying tournament is set for July 26-30 for teams that qualify based on winning percentage.
Post 17 is in the thick of things at 6-5 in Zone 1 with a handful of games left to play. West Hartford and Meriden sit atop the zone with 8-3 records. Post 17 is fifth in the standings.
Naugatuck will start the homestretch of the season with games against Avon on July 18 and Simsbury on July 19.
After an extended Fourth of July break due to weather delays, Naugatuck opened the second half of the season with a 6-3 loss to Bristol on July 10.
Matt Kilmer delivered a two-out, two-strike hit to tie the game in the third inning.
“I’ve been struggling lately,” Kilmer said. “But it’s important to keep your head in the game, so when the opportunity comes along you are ready to do what you can do.”
Trailing by a run in the sixth, Mike Rusin advanced to third base on a double by James Duda, whose aggressive base running drew a pick-off attempt that went for an error and allowed Naugy to tie the game again.
“I knew the pitcher had just come into the game,” Duda said. “I figured he would throw me a fastball and that’s what I was looking for.”
Bristol took advantage of an infield throwing error to score four runs in the eighth to secure the win.
Derrick Jagello pitched seven innings, scattering five hits and striking out 10.
Naugy picked up a crucial 3-2 win over Newington on July 11.
Brady Evon scattered just three hits and struck out six in seven innings on the mound.
Alex Sosa drove in Jagello and Kilmer in the fourth for a 2-0 lead. Newington plated two runs in the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
Anthony Abate drew one of three walks in the eighth, sending Sosa home with the game-winning run.
Walks hampered Post 17 in a 2-1 loss to Meriden on July 14.
Post 17 tied the game at 1-1 in the seventh on an infield hit from Jake Murphy to force extra innings. Meriden used a three-walk inning in the ninth to escape with a walk-off win.
Sosa pitched eight innings, scattering three hits, but was charged with seven walks.
Post 17 came out swinging against Simsbury on July 15.
Naugatuck scored five runs in its final at bat to win, 9-4. Jagello, Justin Stone, Duda and Thomas Barry had two hits each.