By BRIAN JENNINGS
Things are turning around for the Southington American Legion baseball team after they went 3-1 this past week, moving into the final week of the regular season to gear up for the playoffs.
“We’ve come together as a team well,” said Southington manager Marc Verderame. “We’ve talked about it all year. It’s not how you start. It’s how you want to get hot at the end. And we’re getting hot right now.”
And Verderame stated that if Southington had beaten the teams that they were supposed to beat in the beginning of the season, they would have been one of the top teams in the zone.
“We can beat anyone right now. We don’t fear anyone,” the manager said. “I think that if we can get into the playoffs and take care of business, we can beat anyone.”
The top five teams make the 19U postseason, and Post 72 swapped spots with Wolcott, going from fifth to fourth in the Zone 1 standings. Avon is currently tied with Bristol for first place of the zone after falling to Torrington, 1-0, at home on Friday.
Southington (12-9) will look to remain in postseason contention when they finish off the regular season this week with games against Bristol (15-5), Terryville (10-12), and Wolcott (11-10). Monday’s game at Bristol is a continuation of Thursday’s game, which was suspended due to lateness. The game is currently tied 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity,” said Verderame. “And we’ve come back from it. We lost three straight and we’ve won three straight. We were under .500 and now we’re over .500. We’ve seen it all this summer, but we’re hoping to take the upslope into the playoffs. They’re coming together as a team. We have a great lineup and a staff figured out. I’m just hoping that we can keep it going.”
Avon at home
JULY 5—Post 72 began the week at home against Avon, but fell short in extra innings, 7-3.
Brayden Cooney opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI double that scored John Mikosz. Southington extended their lead to two runs when Mikosz scored again in the third.
Avon cut the deficit to one with a run in the sixth, but Cooney regained the 2-run lead with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning that scored Ryan Sheehan.
Avon made it game with a pair of runs in the seventh sending the contest into extra innings, and Avon’s two runs in the seventh not only sparked a rally but sparked some tensions between dugouts as both benches cleared.
“They were chatting back and forth, trying to instigate some actions with our team,” said Verderame. “I try to have a classy team right here. This is Southington baseball and we’re a nationwide program. I had to step in and make sure that those kids weren’t taking advantage of our kids.”
All it took were two innings to decide a winner though, as Avon poured it on with four runs in the ninth. Southington committed six errors in the loss.
“We were up 3-1 and had the game pretty much in control, but we just gave it away,” the manager said. “They beat us three times, but we feel like we’re a better team than them right now. You can’t make errors in baseball and expect to win.”
Cooney marshaled the offense with three doubles, two RBI, and a walk, going 2-for-3 at the plate.
Mikosz started on the mound and went seven innings, allowing five hits and four walks. Sheehan received the loss after relieving Mikosz with three strikeouts, two hits, two earned runs, and two walks.
Torrington at home
JULY 6—Connor McDonough pitched a complete game shutout against Torrington the next day as Southington got back on track with a 10-0 home win. McDonough threw three strikeouts and allowed just two hits to earn the decision.
Southington built a 5-0 lead by the end of the third inning and added a run in the fourth. The locals put the game out of reach with a four run rally in the sixth.
Jake Babon (3-for-3) paced the offense with five RBI and two runs scored. Babon also batted a triple and double, and walked.
Kyle Semmel went 2-for-3 with a RBI. Mikosz and Cooney each went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a double.
JULY 10—Post 72 carried the momentum from their win over Torrington on Wednesday into the weekend, helping them take two games in a doubleheader against Winsted at home on Sunday. Southington won game one, 4-1, and blanked Winsted, 2-0 in the second game.
Semmel got Southington going in the first contest, driving in Matt Sciota and Tyler Cyr to give the team a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Winsted cut the deficit to one with a run in the sixth, but Babon and Sciota scored two more runs to put the game out of reach.
Sciota went 2-for-3 with a double.
Justin Makles picked up the win on the mound after going 4 2/3 innings with four walks and three hits. Ryan McIntyre cleaned up for Makles to get the save, tossing four strikeouts and allowing four walks, a hit, and an earned run.
A pair of scores was all Southington needed to take game two, and the Post 72 pitching rotation allowed Winsted just two hits to secure the sweep.
With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth inning, McIntyre drove in the Cooney and Zach Parent on a base hit to score the team’s only runs of the game. McIntyre finished the game by going 2-for-3. Parent went 2-for-2.
Makles was credited with the win after starting on the mound to go an inning. Mikosz relieved Makles to go an inning as well, and McDonough threw four with four strikeouts, allowing just one hit. McIntyre came in for McDonough to get the save.
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