Post 17 opens perfect, Posts 194-25 continue improving

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Steve Kazalunas of Posts 194-25 dives as he throws to first base to try to get the out Sunday during the first game of a doubleheader against Post 17 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Post 17 swept the doubleheader with 5-0 and 12-8 wins. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Steve Kazalunas of Posts 194-25 dives as he throws to first base to try to get the out Sunday during the first game of a doubleheader against Post 17 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Post 17 swept the doubleheader with 5-0 and 12-8 wins. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck American Legion Post 17 baseball team is off to one of its best starts in 12 years. Post 17 banged the nails out on Monday, plating three runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a wild 6-5 victory over Oakville to stay perfect atop Zone 5.

Ryan White picked up the win on the hill for Naugy after his team’s comeback. Jon Bisson and Ethen Mester led off the bottom of the seventh by reaching on errors with Naugatuck trailing 5-3. Oakville, a perennial Zone 5 contender, couldn’t keep the door shut.

Nolan Kinne busted a run-scoring single down the right field line before Mike Burns moved the runners to second and third on a groundout. Chris Anderson sent a single up the middle to score Mester with the tying run, but behind him Kinne never slowed down as he rounded third and headed for the plate, sliding in ahead of the tag with the game-winning run.

That put Naugy on top of the Zone 5 standings at 4-0, having outscored the opposition by a 28-14 margin.

“We have scored runs in the first inning of every game this season,” Post 17 head coach Rob Dibble said. “Winning is contagious and the kids are really executing when it counts. Assistant coaches Paul D’Agnone, Tom Burns and myself are really pleased with how this team is shaping up.”

On Father’s Day, Post 17 took on neighboring rival Prospect-Beacon Falls Posts 194-25 in a doubleheader at Woodland. Charles Healy threw the first four innings while Chris Sheedy finished the final three innings of a two-hit shutout in a 5-0 win for Naugatuck in Game 1.

Mike D’Agnone, Healy and John Dean knocked in runs for Post 17 as Burns paced the offense with two hits and two runs. Anthony D’Agnone went the distance on the mound for PBF, needing just 77 pitches keeping Posts 194-24 in the game.

“Anthony pitched a real good game for us and gave us a chance to comeback,” PBF head coach Don Ensero said. “We are continuing to make progress but we have focused on our offense over the last few practices and we kind of broke out in the second game.”

Post 17 catcher John Dean hauls in a pop up Sunday during the first game of a doubleheader against Posts 194-25 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Post 17 swept the doubleheader with 5-0 and 12-8 wins. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Post 17 catcher John Dean hauls in a pop up Sunday during the first game of a doubleheader against Posts 194-25 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Post 17 swept the doubleheader with 5-0 and 12-8 wins. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

PBF’s pitching has been mostly reliable, and the coaching staff has been pleased by the team’s optimism.

“We have played seven games and our pitchers — D’Agnone, Nathan Clarke, Matt Spofford and Matt Wysocki — have four complete games between them,” PBF assistant coach Jeff Clarke said. “I went out to settle down our pitcher as we trailed Naugatuck, 11-1, in Game 2. Our catcher Mike Conway came out and said, ‘Coach, let’s just get the last out of this inning and score some runs.’ These kids are not giving up.”

Prospect-Beacon Falls did just that, plating a season-high eight runs on a season-high 12 hits. Kevin Gabianelli had two hits and two RBI to pace PBF, while Matt Butterworth, Steve Kazalunas, Ryan Flanagan and Conway each had two hits and an RBI.

Burns (four innings) and Dean (three innings) split the duties on the hill in Game 2 as Naugatuck swung the bat to the tune of a 12-8 win over PBF.

Anderson and Neveski belted home runs and drove in two runs each to get the offense going for Naugatuck. Kinne drove in four runs on two hits, Scott Sill knocked in three runs and Kyle Lopes chipped in with two RBI and a run.

“The bottom line is these kids know baseball,” Dibble said. “They know how to move base runners along, they know when to take the extra base and they know how to play defense. Right now they are executing at a very high level and the confidence is growing. We just need to stay focused and continue to execute. We have five games in the next six days and we need to stay focused.”

Post 17 will to hit the road Wednesday at Prospect-Beacon Falls and Thursday against Bethel. Post 17 will then play Friday at Waterbury and Saturday at Monroe.

PBF will host Naugatuck on Wednesday before a visit to Oakville on Thursday. Posts 194-24 will then play at Waterbury on Saturday and Bethel on Sunday.