The American Legion baseball schedule is grueling with 27 games in six weeks. But when a series of rainouts enter the mix, the chore can become overwhelming at times.
Naugatuck Post 17 and Prospect-Beacon Falls Posts 194/25 entered the home stretch of the season this week and have a couple a games left.
Naugatuck (12-13) is still fighting for the last spot in Zone 5 to make the postseason. Oxford (13-12) holds a slight edge over Naugatuck. Post 17 is scheduled to close out the regular season at home against Waterbury (21-3) Wednesday and Easton (12-13) Thursday.
Posts 194/25 (4-20) has games remaining against Bethel on Wednesday and Oxford Thursday. PBF has seen several games decided by a run or two. As coach Jeff Clarke puts it, a couple of key hits would have made a world of difference.
“We have played in eight one-run games,” Clarke said. “A hit here and there in key situations would have no doubt changed those outcomes. For more than two-thirds of the season our starting pitching has kept us in games. But to the credit of these guys they are battling every game until the final out.”
Anthony D’Agnone set the tone for PBF last Wednesday in a 7-0 victory over Danbury. He took a no-hitter into the last inning and settled for a one-hitter. Posts 194/25 held a slim 1-0 advantage before blowing the game open with six runs in the sixth inning.
Nathan Clarke and Matt Wysocki turned in complete-game efforts Sunday in a double header against New Milford. But the PBF bats went silent in 8-1 and 3-0 losses.
On Monday, Easton scored a run in the seventh to pull out a 6-5 win as PBF couldn’t hold on to a good start on the mound by Sam Merriman.
Naugatuck has seen how grueling the schedule can be. Post 17 looked like a lock for the postseason in late June with a 10-4 record and a third place standing. Post 17 has gone 2-9 down the stretch, but picked up a key victory last Saturday against Oakville.
Kyle Plasky went six and a third innings against Oakville for his third win on the hill, as Naugatuck found a way to pull out a 6-5 victory.
“That was a big win against Oakville,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Dibble said. “The last time we faced them we lost by one run so it was good to get one back. We are just not getting the big hit in key spots like we were earlier in the season.”
Post 17 fell 5-2 to Oxford July 9 followed by a 10-0 loss to Monroe last Friday.
Naugatuck battled Bethel (20-6) on Sunday, but came up on the short end of a 10-8 final margin. Matt Whitney went four innings on the mound with Ethen Mester and Jason Bradley finishing up.
“We are still in the hunt. Oxford is ahead of us but we have Easton on Thursday and that will go a long way at deciding the final spot,” Dibble said Tuesday.
The State Sectional single elimination tournament begins Saturday and Sunday with the surviving teams advancing to the double elimination tournament for the State Championship.