NAUGATUCK — Despite a week full of weather postponements and close, low-scoring contests, the Naugatuck Senior Legion baseball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Staring elimination in the face, Post 17, which came out of the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination round to move on, not only had to defeat Guilford twice but twice in the same day due to the weather.
Naugatuck did just that, sweeping a doubleheader against Guilford on Thursday.
Derrick Jagello, the team leader in ERA, pitched another gem as Post 17 won the first game 8-1.
Jagello went the distance and gave up one run on four hits. At the dish, Steve Marinaro and Will McDonald both went 3-for-3. Marinaro had three RBI, and Corey Plasky added two hits.
“Our best pitcher was on vacation during this tournament,” manager Ron Plasky said. “We throw Derrick out there in game one and he throws an absolute gem.”
The doubleheader continued immediately after the first game. Game 2 was much more of a nail-biter.
Behind 3-2 in the top of the seventh, Guilford had a man on third and one out. But Plasky, who got the win on the mound, picked the runner off at third base. Soon after, Will McDonald dove and caught a blooper in foul territory to secure the win and the pod for Naugatuck.
Plasky finished the game for Jagello, who reached the max pitch count for the day (105) after 1.1 innings. Plasky allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five. He also had the biggest hit of the game: a two-run single in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie.
“I live for the big moments,” Plasky said. “I have been a part of Naugy Legion for six years and I’ve always looked to advance this far into states, and now we’re looking to win the whole thing.”
McDonald added two hits. Mark Nofri, Jon Chatfield and Jagello each had a hit.
Naugatuck advances to the Super Regional, which is scheduled to start Saturday, along with Tri-County, West Hartford, Ellington, Southington, Cheshire, Zone 5 rival Oakville, and RCP.
Naugatuck started the tournament against Branford on July 21, and won a heated and competitive pitcher’s duel, 1-0.
Jagello went eight masterful innings on the mound, allowing just four hits and striking out nine. Marinaro was the walk-off hero in extra innings.
Guilford sent Naugatuck to the loser’s bracket with a 6-5 win on Sunday.
Naugatuck dominated Branford in the next game, winning 10-0 in five innings on Tuesday. Nate Deptula allowed just one hit in the five innings. Jarret Allen, Plasky, McDonald, Jagello and Chatfield all recorded two hits.
With the No. 1 seed in the pod, Stamford, losing its first two games, that set up the rematch doubleheader with Guilford to decide who advanced.
The Post 17 manager almost couldn’t describe how proud he was of his team after winning both games of the doubleheader.
“To be honest, I am almost at a loss of words,” Plasky said. “I told these guys that we are going out there with house money and going up some against some of the best in the state, so stay loose, have fun and see where you are. Then you start believing in each other and believing in the coaches and then, hey, anything can happen.”