NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Dogs started off the postseason with a bang.
Their 12-1 victory Aug. 9 put them in a good spot with a 1-0 series lead against the Brass City Brew in the second round of the Tri-State League playoffs. Early in game two however, Kyle Murphy pulled a hamstring legging out a double. The team’s third baseman and best hitter was down and out.
The Dogs, who finished the regular season tops in the league at 16-2, needed his bat as they dropped the next two games by just one run each — 4-3 and 3-2 — to fall in the best-of-three series, and end their season.
“Kyle’s on-base percentage was .600 so he was a big injury for us,” Dogs manager Jay Harlamon said. “I’m definitely not making any excuses; the Tri-State League is strong. There definitely aren’t any laughers.”
Naugy went into the eighth inning of game three with a 2-1 lead thanks to Trent Levi’s solo shot and an RBI from Sean Miller Jones.
Brass City was able to take control, however, when the Dogs brought in a relief pitcher.
“Adam Nevski had thrown upwards of 115 pitches and just ran out of gas,” Harlamon said. “We had to bring in our shortstop to pitch and he did a good job, but they got a big hit with two on.”
The Dogs improved this year from last year. They won two more games, not to mention the Stan Musial State Championship, and posted a league-high run differential of 88. They scored 110 runs and gave up just 22.
When asked what made this year different Harlamon said, “Our team had a combined ERA under 1 this season, we played great defense and stayed healthier this year plus our 6 to 9 guys hit well this year.”
Naugy’s only regular season losses this year were to a high-powered offense in Watertown and a make-up game the day after the state tournament to Litchfield.
The Dogs have had a solid core for years now.
“Having Macky Ciancilo and Sean Miller Jones is one heck of a 6-4 combo,” Harlamon said. “We have had the same core group for about 10 seasons.”
Naugy is constantly a good team that has high aspirations year in and year out.
“We have great guys with great chemistry that come to play and know how to win now. They are fun to coach,” Harlamon said. “When guys start hitting and four or five runs go up, with our pitching it’s hard to beat.”