By BRIAN JENNINGS
Even when Southington’s American Legion baseball team struggled to get one win in their first four starts, coach Marc Verderame said that he wasn’t worried. It was almost prophetic.
Post 72 rallied for five wins in their next six games to move a couple of games above .500 and back in contention in the zone standings. Verderame said he isn’t surprised.
“I know that our pitching was set up and our hitting was struggling, but we’re aggressive,” he said. “We’re going to steal, bunt, and execute. Those types of offenses don’t go into slumps.”
Post 72 is starting to show the transition from the metal to the wooden bats after putting up a total of 44 hits this week, compared to 17 in week one. But it’s the never-give-up mentality that helped Southington pull out two come-from-behind victories to extend their five-game winning streak. Both times, they were down to their final out when the bats came alive.
“The team’s just showing some fight,” said Verderame. “Baseball’s a game of failure, and the kids have been doing a better job dealing with the failure, knowing that they’re never out of it. Sometimes fortune favors the bold.”
Post 72 will try to keep their hot streak alive this week with games against Winsted (5-3) and Bristol (5-1-1) before a doubleheader against Unionville (2-6) on Sunday. Southington is currently 6-4.
Win vs. Wolcott
JUNE 13—Southington snapped their two-game losing with a 3-1 victory over Wolcott at home on Tuesday.
Matthew Warren put Wolcott on the board first after driving in a run with a triple in the first inning. Dan Topper tied the game with a fielder’s choice that scored the leadoff batter in the bottom of the inning.
Brayden Cooney hit the go-ahead runs with a triple in the fifth. Jonathan Gray went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored, as Southington mustered just four hits.
Bailey Robarge (1-1) started on the mound and picked up his first win of the season after throwing a complete game with six strikeouts, allowing six hits, three walks, and an earned run.
Win at Torrington
JUNE 14—Post 72 earned its second-straight win to come even at .500 on the season with a 15-3 mercy ruling of Torrington on the road the next day.
Seven runs off six hits in the third inning and eight runs off four hits and a pair of errors in the fourth and fifth innings combined ended the game quickly for Post 72. Southington finished with 11 hits.
Jake Weed went 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs, a run scored, and a double. Jake Babon went 2-for-2 with three runs scored, two RBIs, a triple, and a double.
Nick Borkowski (2-0) started on the mound and picked up the win after going three innings with four strikeouts, allowing five hits. Justin Verilli closed with three hits, two earned runs, and one walk.
Win at Unionville
JUNE 15—Post 72 kept rolling on Thursday and jumped a game above .500 for the first time this season after earning its third-straight win, edging Unionville by a run, 7-6, on the road.
Southington held a 3-2 lead after the fourth inning, but four runs off three walks, two hits, and an error gave Unionville a 6-4 lead after the fifth. However, Southington answered.
With one out and runners on first and second, Bailey Robarge cut the deficit to a run with an RBI single. An out later, Jonathan Gray (2-for-5) hit the go-ahead runs to score two on a base hit.
Jake Weed walked the first batter in the bottom of the inning, but managed to earn his first save of the season after getting Unionville to fly out for the first out and hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game. Weed went three and two thirds innings with three strikeouts, allowing seven walks, two hits, and two earned runs. Vinny Viturale (1-0) started on the mound and picked up his first win of the season after tossing three and a third innings with five strikeouts, four hits, an earned run, and a walk.
Southington finished with 10 hits and committed three errors. Josh Panarella went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBIs, a run scored, and a sacrifice fly. Dan Topper went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a double.
Win vs. Simsbury
JUNE 16—The next day, Post 72 stayed hot after earning their fourth-straight win with a 14-2 rout of Simsbury in five innings at home, tying their largest win of the season. It was the second time Post 72 mercy ruled a team this year, both coming a game apart.
Southington scored all of their runs in the third inning off 10 of their 11 hits, four walks, two errors, and a hit batter. Josh Panarella was perfect at the plate after going 2-for-2 with a run scored.
Brayden Cooney went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, two runs scored, and a double. Dan Topper went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Bailey Robarge (3 RBIs) and Jake Babon (2 RBIs) contributed as well.
Connor McDonough (1-1) started on the mound and picked up his first win of the season after going four innings with five strikeouts, allowing three hits, two walks, and two earned runs. Nick Borkowski (2-0) closed.
Split with Simsbury
JUNE 18—Post 72 rounded out the week with a split in their doubleheader series at Simsbury on Sunday. Southington earned its fifth-straight by taking game one by a run, 5-4.
Trailing Simsbury, 4-2, in the seventh inning, Southington was down to its last out, following a strikeout and fly out by the first two batters. Josh Panarella drew a walk, and Bailey Robarge got on base with a single.
Justin Mackles cut the deficit to a run with a base hit that drove in a run. Kyle Semmel (2-for-2) hit the go-ahead runs with an RBI single that scored two.
Simsbury got two runners on base in the bottom of the inning, but Nick Borkowski (2-0) closed the game out to get his first save of the season with a pair of strikeouts and a line drive to the third baseman. Robarge (2-1) started on the mound and picked up the win after going six innings with a strikeout, allowing six hits and three earned runs.
Southington finished with six hits, as Brayden Cooney went 2-for-4.
Southington’s five-game winning streak was snapped after Simsbury took the second game decisively, 9-1. Simsbury posted five runs off three errors, two walks, and just one hit in the fourth, capping off the win with four runs in the next inning. Southington mustered just two hits.
Vinny Viturale (1-1) started on the mound and went three and two thirds innings with a pair of strikeouts, allowing four walks and three hits. Justin Verilli closed, allowing three earned runs.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/06/20/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-23-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.