By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Southington American Legion baseball team kept rolling on their recent tear and remained hot with two more wins last week. Post 72 has now won 11 of its last 12 contests.
Pitching had been the staple of the team’s success since the season started. But if you thought the rotation was good before, guess again. It has gotten even better.
The team’s ace, Nick Borkowski, picked up yet another win to remain undefeated on the mound, letting up just one earned run in 26 innings with an ERA of 0.27. Vinny Viturale (0.53) and Connor McDonough (1.24) aren’t far behind Borkowski either, as the team’s pitching staff currently garners a total ERA of 1.75.
“Our pitching staff has carried us,” said Southington coach Marc Verderame. “We’ve won 11 of our last 12, and it’s really because of our pitching. Our rotation is set, and I like where we’re at.”
Execution on the field has helped with the team’s recent success as well, especially stolen bases. To date, the team has stolen 74 bases.
“We put the ball in play and steal when we get on first base,” the coach said. “We get the guy over by getting hits. It’s about going out there and running the offense, putting pressure on the other teams.”
While hitting has remained inconsistent for the team, the comebacks have not. Ten of Southington’s 16 games have been decided by three runs or less. Post 72 was able to pull out wins in all of those contests, but two, climbing out of the depths of defeat in a pair of victories when the team was down to its last out.
The reason? It’s a simple belief the team has. But how long could it really last? Verderame seems to think that it could help them down the road in the postseason when it matters most.
“You believe that you’re good and don’t think that you’re out of it,” the coach said. “We’ve had the moments that we can come back to when we came back against Unionville and Simsbury. So it’s just that belief in ourselves and the experience of it.”
The team has shown the ability to beat teams from the mound, on the bases, and in crunch time. But keep in mind that they are doing all of this without being at 100 percent.
Southington hasn’t fielded a full team yet this season, and injuries have tried to get in the way of the team’s successful run, mounting from week to week. But the injuries haven’t stopped Post 72 from knocking on the door of first place in the Zone One Division, now in second and just two games behind Avon (14-2-1).
“We’ve been battling and scrapping, but this team’s used to it,” said Verderame. “I like the mentality of the kids, and it’s going to be a fun end of the season. But if we can get people healthy and continue with this pitching the way it’s going, we’re looking to carry into the playoffs.”
Southington (12-4) will be back on the diamond next week with games against Avon, Torrington (3-14), Bristol (12-5), and Winsted (11-6-1).
Win at Wolcott
JUNE 28—Post 72 began the short week on Wednesday by earning its fifth-straight win after edging Wolcott by a run, 2-1, on the road.
Brandon Kohl led off the second inning with a walk and advanced to third base on a couple of stolen bases. An out later, Kyle Semmel drove in Kohl on an infield error to give Southington a 1-0 advantage.
With two outs in the sixth, Jake Babon extended Southington’s lead to two with a RBI single. Wolcott’s rally fell short after Matthew Warren hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the inning.
“Every game we’ve been in has been close, but we’re ready for that,” said Verderame. “We’ve got the relief, bullpen, and starters. We’re not going out there and blowing anyone out, but we know how to manufacture a run when we need to.”
Nick Borkowski (4-0) allowed a runner aboard first with one out in the seventh, but struck out the next two batters to seal the win and remain undefeated on the season. Although Southington mustered just three hits, Borkowski bailed out his team from the mound once again, throwing a complete game with seven strikeouts, four hits, an earned run, and a walk.
Win vs. Torrington
JUNE 29—Post 72 rounded out the week the next day by capturing its sixth-straight win with a 7-2 victory over Torrington at home.
Torrington jumped out on Southington and the scoreboard early with a pair of runs off a pair of base hits in the opening inning, but it didn’t take long for Southington to respond. In the bottom of the inning, Jonathan Gray cut the deficit to one after stealing home on a passed ball, and Bailey Robarge tied the game with a sacrifice fly for the second out.
Dan Topper (2-for-3) hit the go-ahead run with a RBI double, and Kyle Semmel (2-for-3) capped off the rally with a RBI single. Southington went on to post two more runs in the second and a run in the sixth, finishing with six hits and an error.
“It’s just the statement of this team,” said Verderame. “We’re never down and never out. We’re always in the game.”
Robarge (3-1) started on the mound and picked up the win after going six innings with four strikeouts, allowing five hits and two earned runs. Justin Verilli closed to get his third save of the season.
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.