By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — When it rains, it pours. That’s what happened — at least on game day — to the Post 17 American Legion baseball team as Naugatuck kicked off the second half of the season.
Naugatuck came out of the Fourth of July break at 4-3 and looking to move up in the Zone 1 standings. Rain made for a longer-than-expected break, postponing the first two games after the break against Bristol and Meriden.
That set the stage for three games in three days this weekend, weather-permitting of course.
If the rain stops, Naugatuck will be without a couple of its top pitchers, who are away.
“Pitching has been our strength. Defensively we have been pretty solid, as well, except for the two games we played against the top team in the zone, West Haven,” head coach Jim Duda said. “For whatever reason those two losses were probably our two worst games defensively all season.”
Brady Evon is the No. 1 pitcher for Post 17 with four starts. Derrick Jagello has pitched in three games with one start. Andrew Tyszka has two starts. Ryan Sutherland, Alex Sosa and Ryan Tyszka have all pitched in two games each, and Nick Bruno has one inning of work in.
“This stretch of games will give us a chance to give some of the pitchers who haven’t been out there much to get some work,” Duda said. “We have 18 players on the roster and we play everyone.”
The Post 17 pitching staff has allowed 25 runs through seven games. Naugatuck scored 27 runs in those seven games.
“We are not a big bat team and we are two to three years younger than our opponents,” Duda said. “So we need to play small ball, bunt the runner over, steal a base and do whatever it takes.”
Michael Deitelbaum is hitting a scorching .550 to lead Post 17. Anthony Abate is right behind him at .450, followed by Andrew Tyszka (.400) and James Duda (.250).
“Those are our top four batters and it falls off after that,” Duda said. “Mike and Anthony are usually the three and four batters depending on if Derrick (Jagello) and Nick (Bruno) are in the lineup.”
“We are solid in the outfield with Bruno in center, with J.D. Stone and Matt Kilmer covering a lot of ground,” he added. “Even with a few guys out, I think we will have enough pitching to get through this stretch of games.”
Post 17 is scheduled to play Avon, Bristol and Newington — all teams ahead of Naugatuck in the standings — this weekend, before games against Meriden and Simsbury next week.
“We have already played the top teams over the first half (of the season) and it looks like that’s the way we are going to start the second half,” Duda said. “But I tell our guys don’t look at the standings because we can’t afford to look past anyone.”