PROSPECT — The Posts 194/25 American Legion baseball team got off to a slow start on the season, but have shown their resolve of late.
Prospect-Beacon Falls rode the pitching of Kevin Gabinelli and Andrew Spofford to pick up a 2-0 win over Oxford June 16. The Legion team wasted a superb pitching performance from Anthony D’Agnone, who went seven innings in a tough 2-1 loss to New Milford June 14.
“We are starting to play well,” head coach Jeff Clarke said. “We played three one-run games last week and we are starting to put our bat on the ball. Our pitching is our strength, and we have been getting some great outings by our staff keeping us in games.”
PBF had another battle on their hands Saturday against Post 17 of Naugatuck. Posts 194/25 battled back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game, as Nathan Clarke settled down on the mound and gave his team a chance to pull it out.
Naugatuck rallied in the final inning, and Dylan Cummings came on in relief. Post 17 managed to push across the final run on a fielder’s choice. PBF threatened in its final turn at the plate. Prospect-Beacon Falls got the tying and potential winning run on base before a stellar defensive play by Naugatuck closed the door on a tough 5-4 set back.
“That was one heck of an American Legion game,” Clarke said. “Naugatuck scored early, but Nate settled down and gave us a chance to pull it out.
“I’m proud of the way we battled back. We got some timely hits and used our speed on the bases to manufacture a couple of runs. Rick Plasky pitched a great game for Naugatuck, but we were able to tie the score and get back in it.”
Naugatuck could have gone up by a lot more if not for the outstanding play in the infield by third baseman Mike Tuohy, who snagged a few shots down the line that had base hit written all over them.
“We are beginning to play a lot better defensively and that has helped out our pitching staff,” Clarke said. “Mike is our regular catcher, but can also play in the infield and outfield. He is just a gamer willing to do what ever it takes.”
PBF second baseman Jerrett Allen was just as impressive. He stalled a few Post 17 rallies with his defensive play, including tracking one ball into short right field that ended a threat.
“Jerrett is only a first-year player, but I haven’t taken him out of the lineup because of his defense,” Clarke said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence and can also play in the outfield.”
Naugatuck plated two runs in the first despite a diving catch by PBF right fielder Steve Kazalunas with the bases loaded.
Naugatuck held a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the third. Lead off hitter Matt Wysocki got the comeback started for Posts 194/25 with a single. D’Agnone singled to put Wysocki in scoring position.
Cummings came through with a RBI single, and Matt Spofford chased home the second run when his hard shot up the middle was mishandled for an error.
Posts 194/25 tied the game in the fourth when Allen reached base on a one-out single. PBF catcher Robert Stach reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second base coming around to score on a single from Wysocki. Two stolen bases later, Wysocki tied the score on a single to left from D’Agnone.
PBF had a chance to take the lead when Matt Spofford led off the fifth with a double, but he was left stranded at third. Naugatuck pushed across the game-winning run in the seventh on consecutive singles from Matt Whitney, Kyle Plasky and John Dean. Chris Anderson sent home the deciding run on a fielder’s choice.
Prospect-Beacon Falls (1-7) fell to Oxford Post 174, 14-0, on Monday.
Posts 194/25 will face a tall order this week to remain competitive. Prospect-Beacon Falls will face Zone 5 leader Waterbury at Municipal Stadium on Thursday, before taking on second-place Oakville in a double-header on Saturday. Posts 194/25 will then return home on Sunday for a 2 p.m. matchup with Easton, before a rematch with Post 17 in a double-header in Naugatuck on Tuesday.