American Legion: Offense is the question as Post 72 prepares for postseason

Southington catcher Josh Panarella blocks the plate during a 5-1 home loss to Bristol on Thursday.

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

When the summer season began, Southington American Legion coach Marc Verderame was concerned about his baseball team’s hitting as they transitioned from metal bats to wood. He’s still waiting…

The lack of offense was the biggest reason why Southington’s eight-game winning streak—and their quest for a zone title—came to an end against Bristol. Lack of hits were also a big part of why Southington only managed to take one game in a Winsted doubleheader. Southington registered just five hits in two games.

It’s been pitching that has kept Southington in the race, in second place by 2.5 games, and a decent 15-6 record. Pitching and small ball on the bases.

“It is what it what it is,” said Verderame. “We’re playing the cards that we’re dealt with a lot of injuries.”

Southington may not have the hits to back up their 15-6 record—averaging just over 5.5 hits per game—but Verderame still stands behind his “arm”-ada.

“We’ve relied on pitching, and the pitching has been strong,” the coach said. “Winning the zone is important, but this is a tough zone…We hope that our pitching and aggressiveness carries us through the playoffs. I don’t really think anyone is more prepared for the playoffs than us.”

Southington will finish off the regular season next week with road and two home contests against Terryville (4-16) and a home game against Wolcott (11-10).

Win at Avon

JULY 3—Post 72 rallied for its seventh-straight win with a one-run triumph, 3-2, at first-place Avon on Monday. It was Southington’s first against Avon in three attempts, but it didn’t come easily.

Avon held Southington scoreless through the first four innings until Southington sealed the win with a late charge.

Trailing 2-0 with two outs and runners on first and third, Dan Topper drove in a run with an RBI single to put Southington on the board. Jake Babon (3-for-4) led off the next inning with a base hit and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Mason Dibble drew a walk, and an out later, Jonathan Gray (2-for-3) loaded the bases with another walk. Josh Panarella drove in Babon and Dibble for the go-ahead runs on an infield error.

Nick Borkowski (4-0) allowed a runner aboard in the ninth, but managed to end the game on a pair of fly outs and a strikeout, getting his second save of the season. Connor McDonough (3-1) started on the mound and picked up the win after going six innings with four strikeouts, allowing four hits, four walks, and two earned runs. Southington finished with eight hits.

Win at Torrington

JULY 5—Post 72 earned its eighth-straight win with an 11-6 victory at Torrington on Wednesday. Once again, the locals trailed by two, 6-4, until Southington rallied for seven runs off five consecutive hits in the seventh inning. It was the third time this season where Southington came back from being down in the final inning with one or two outs.

After the leadoff batter made the first out of the inning, Josh Panarella was hit by a pitch and Dan Topper and Jake Babon loaded the bases with walks. Brayden Cooney (2-for-3) hit the go-ahead runs with a bases- clearing triple that put Southington up by a run.

Jake Weed (2-for-3) kept the offensive onslaught going with a double that brought Cooney in. Bailey Robarge (2-for-4) drove in Weed with a RBI single, Brandon Kohl (2-for-3) got on with a base hit, and Justin Mackles capped off the win with a RBI double that scored Robarge and Kohl.

Torrington put two runners on base with a walk and an infield error in the bottom of the inning, but Borkowski (5-0) got the next two batters to hit into a double play and fly out to seal the victory. Borkowski went three innings on the mound and picked up the win to remain undefeated on the year, allowing four walks and one hit.

Justin Verilli started on the mound and went four innings with three strikeouts, allowing four hits, three earned runs, and a walk. Southington finished with nine hits and four errors.

Loss vs. Bristol

JULY 6—Bristol snapped the winning streak the following day with a 5-1 victory in Southington. The loss knocked the locals out of zone contention.

Chad Richardson put Bristol on the scoreboard first with a RBI double in the first inning. Jonathan Gray knotted the score by driving in Dan Topper (2-for-3) on a 4-3 putout in the third. However, Bristol pulled away after scattering runs over the next few innings.

Southington mustered just five hits. Josh Panarella went 2-for-3 at the plate. Bailey Robarge (3-2) started on the mound and was credited with the loss after going five innings with five strikeouts, allowing seven hits, four earned runs, and three walks. Jake Weed closed.

Split at Winsted

JULY 9—Post 72 rounded the week out with a trip to Walker Field where Southington split a doubleheader with Winsted (13-7). Southington took game one by a run, 2-1.

Jonathan Gray led off the game with a walk and eventually came around to score on a Jake Babon RBI single two outs later to put Southington on top first, 1-0. With two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Brandon Kohl drew a walk on four straight balls to extend Southington’s lead to two, which ultimately was the game-winning run.

Winsted came up short with a run in the bottom of the inning off a fielder’s choice. Southington mustered just two hits and stranded 11 runners on base.

Connor McDonough (4-1) started on the mound and picked up the win after going five and one-third innings with eight strikeouts, allowing five hits, two walks, and an earned run. Vinny Viturale (2-2) closed to get his first save of the season.

Then, the offense went cold as Winsted won game two, 6-0, to hand Southington its third shutout of the year.

Winsted compiled all six of its runs by the fourth inning. Southington mustered just three hits and stranded 10 runners on base, as Gray went 2-for-3 at the plate.

Viturale started on the mound and was credited with the loss after going an inning with a strikeout, allowing five hits, five earned runs, and four walks. Weed and Mackles each tossed a pair of innings, and Kohl closed.

 For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/07/12/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-july-14-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.

 

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