By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Post 72 legion baseball team opened its summer season with a win and a pair of losses on the road last week, but as Southington coach Marc Verderame explains, this season looks a lot different than last year.
“This is a totally different team,” the coach said. “We made a lot of changes on the coaching staff and with the players. These kids were playing for the Amateur Athletic Union and junior legion, and weren’t quite ready for the big show. Now they’re juniors and seniors, and are ready to go.”
The head coach and two players are the only returners from last year’s team. Last year, most of the Blue Knights dispersed to different summer leagues throughout the state, while Verderame’s staff struggled with a roster of 14 players. Pitching rotations were filled with outfielders and infielders, and Southington struggled to find its swagger.
This year’s roster grew to 17 players. Most of the legion players came from the high school varsity team. Now, the Blue Knights’ summer sibling is getting back to its roots as a breeding ground for high school dominance.
“Not only did we make changes on this year’s team, but we eliminated the junior legion team too,” said Verderame.
The move brings a bigger roster and a feeling of team unity. With a larger roster, comes a better pitching rotation, which includes Drew Farkas, Ryan Sheehan, Bailey Robarge, Connor McDonough, and John Mikosz.
“I’ve coached some excellent pitchers in the past, but I don’t think I’ve had a staff as complete as I have this year,” the coach said. “I know whoever I give the ball to is going to go out there and pitch a great game.”
Once they gel, they could do some damage in the zone and in the state.
Win in the opener
JUNE 9—Post 72 traveled to Terryville High School on Thursday, June 9, where they edged out Terryville by a run, 1-0.
With two outs in the first inning, Sheehan drove in Kyle Bunko on a base hit to score the lone run of the game. Southington mustered just four hits in the game.
Robarge pitched a complete game shutout and held Terryville to one hit and one walk, throwing four strikeouts.
JUNE 12—Post 72 wrapped up the week by remaining on the road and heading out to Buckingham Park in Avon for a doubleheader on Sunday. However, Southington dropped both games.
Avon took the first game, 3-1, with a run in the third and two in the fifth, all coming off of base hits.
Ryan McIntyre scored Southington’s only run off of an error made by the third baseman. Mikosz came away with the team’s only hit. Avon finished with eight hits.
Farkas pitched a complete game for Southington with seven strikeouts, eight hits, three earned runs, and two walks.
Avon shut out Southington, 4-0, to prevail in game two of the doubleheader as well. Avon produced a pair of runs in the third and fourth innings off of base hits.
Mikosz went 2-for-3 in the game as a part of Southington’s three hits. Avon finished with eight hits. Southington committed two errors.
Sheehan started on the mound for Post 72 and went four innings with seven strikeouts, six hits, four earned runs, and a walk. McDonough close out the game with five strikeouts and two hits.
“We may not have produced on the scoreboard, but after seeing our three studs go in the first three games makes me excited to move forward in the season because I know that we have the pitching to make a run,” said Verderame. “You need that pitching to make a run the way the state tournament is setup. Going forward, we’re going to have some success, and we have that recipe to make a run in the playoffs.”
Southington (1-2) hopes to get back on track with games against Wolcott (2-0), Torrington (2-2), Unionville (0-4), and Simsbury (2-1).