Washed up; Legion battles rainouts, forfeits, and double headers

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

On Tuesday, the locals had runners on first and third when the skies opened up in Terryville midway through the top of the first inning.

The following day’s baseball game was scratched since Winsted’s American Legion team withdrew from the season. On Thursday, the Southington squad was halfway to Torrington when the rain turned them around.

Even Saturday’s doubleheader against Unionville had both teams staring up at gathering clouds in the second game. It seems that Mother Nature is no fan of summer baseball.

“The weather really hasn’t helped us,” said Southington assistant coach Joe Santovasi after splitting the double header on Saturday. “We’ve only played eight games so far, so it’s definitely going to affect us here on out. We’re going to have a lot of games in just a few days. We have a big week this week because we play Avon, two games against Bristol, Terryville, and a double header against Wolcott tomorrow that we can’t take lightly.”

Don’t worry. Monday’s games against Wolcott were rained out.

With just two games this week, Southington is in a bit of a bind as the July 18 cutoff draws closer. Post 72 got a late start on the season with the high school team making its annual run at the title game. With eight wins, Southington has already clinched enough wins to qualify for the state tournament. At 8-2, they are just 2.5 games out of the lead in the zone standings.

But with 12 games left and only 14 playing days left at the time that this article went to press, there is very little room left for rain delays or cancellations.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Santovasi said. “We’re going to have a lot of double headers the rest of the way.”

The long layoffs have also hurt any momentum that Southington had built. When they took the field against Unionville on Sunday, the team had gone a full week without playing or practicing.

The rust was apparent as Post 72 squandered two runs in the first inning, helped by one of the team’s two errors. It was compounded by a poor hitting performance. Dave Palladino drove a ball up the middle for a second inning single, but Matt DiNello was the only other local to get a hit in the first game with a bunt single to open the fourth inning.

Matt Santovasi and Andrew Goralski reached on walks. Santovasi reached base on an error. Zac Susi was struck by a pitch, but the locals stranded every runner on base as Unionville handed Southington their first shutout loss of the season.

“We just didn’t get on track,” said the coach. “We had some opportunities, but their pitcher spotted the ball well. He kept our batters hitting off our front foot, and they made the plays when they needed to. They made some good defensive plays to take some hits away from us. We had a bunt single and one single through the infield.”

Brett Susi did enough to win, scattering eight strikeouts and four hits over the seven inning game, but it wasn’t enough. Southington fell for just the second time this season in a lackluster, 2-0 performance.

“It was a good, well-pitched game. I felt really badly for Brett because he pitched a heck of a game,” Santovasi said. “With a break here or there, we might have been able to win this game. “

On the other hand, Southington was able to regroup for the second game as the team rallied for 11 runs on 19 hits. Matt Santovasi (2-for-4) opened the scoring with an two-run double in the top of the second inning that scored Brett Susi (3-for-5) and Zac Susi (1-for-2). Santovasi drove in Josh Dobratz (2-for-3) with his next at bat, and the flood gates opened.

“I think that momentum carried us,” said Coach Santovasi. “Our kids played with confidence and swung the bats a little better later on. Confidence is everything in this game.”

DiNello went 4-for-5 with three runs scored. Dave Palladino went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Joe Rivera went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Ted Shaw scored a two-run double, and Southington rallied to an 11-1 victory.

On the mound, Craig Froebl scored the victory with five strikeouts over a complete game.

“I think that showed that we were just a little bit rusty in the first game,” said the coach. “Once we got a few swings under our belts, we got more confidence. I could see better swings, and once we got to the second game we hit the ball really well. Everybody up and down the lineup hit the ball well. We had 19 hits and everybody contributed.”

The long range forecast doesn’t look bad. After Tuesday, the chance of rain finally starts to drop, and Southington can get back to their next team goal—the zone championship. Then, comes the fun part.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@southingtonobserver.com.

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