By KEVIN ROBERTS
In a 28-game American Legion schedule, a team’s pitching staff becomes its biggest asset, or its biggest liability.
Southington Post 72 used its terrific depth on the mound to navigate a seven-game week, including doubleheaders on back to back days. Southington emerged from the busy week with a 6-1 record and second place in Zone 3 virtually sewn up. The loss didn’t come until the last game of the week, which was the second game of a doubleheader on a hot afternoon on July 8 at Southington High School.
“You’ve got to have the pitching staff to play seven games in seven days, and it showed [last] week,” coach Marc Verderame said. “We got through it. Even with a couple of injuries, we still got through it, and won six of seven. We’ll take it.”
The greatest tribute to Post 72’s pitching prowess was a 7-0 combined no-hitter in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader (July 7) in Wallingford.
Nick Borkowski threw the first four innings but had to leave with a back injury. Jeremy Mercier came on for the fifth and sixth innings, then Jake Romano closed the game out in the seventh.
“It shows the pitching staff that we have,” Verderame said. “Next guy up. We’re going to have some injuries, some things are going to go wrong. They stepped up, threw the no-no, guys made plays, and we got the win.”
East Haddam win
JULY 2—Southington started the week with a 20-hit eruption in a 22-1 rout of East Haddam on Monday. Eleven out of 12 Post 72 players who batted in the game had at least one hit, and 10 of the 12 drove in at least one run.
Connor Patenaude led Southington with four hits, and he also scored five runs. Dylan Chiaro drove in a team-high three runs, and six other players had two RBI.
Southington built a 9-0 lead in the second inning before exploding for 12 runs in the bottom of the third.
Ryan Henderson pitched the first three innings and didn’t allow a run on 41 pitches. Jake Weed pitched a scoreless fourth inning on 15 pitches, and Eric Padden gave up a single run on 18 pitches in the fifth and final inning.
JULY 3—On Tuesday, Southington went to Madison and earned a 3-2 win. Justin Verrilli pitched the first five innings and garnered the first of his two wins during the week. Jason Krar went two scoreless innings in relief for the save.
Chiaro had an RBI triple. Mercier and Danny Topper had doubles. Romano and Chiaro drove in runs during a 3-run rally in the first inning that put the game out of reach.
JULY 5—After a break for the Fourth of July, Post 72 went back to Madison on Thursday. Southington shut out Madison 3-0 behind the pitching of Krar and Weed. Krar gave up two hits over four innings for the win, then Weed yielded none over the last three frames for the save.
Mercier and Romano (2 RBI) went 2-for-4 to pace the offense. Southington scored twice in the first inning and once in the third.
JULY 7—On Saturday, Southington started its first doubleheader of the weekend with an 8-2 victory at Pat Wall Field in Wallingford. Only the pitch count could stop Ryan Sheehan, who was pulled after 105 pitches and 6 2/3 innings. Romano was brought on in relief, threw one pitch, and got a called third strike to end the game.
Andrew Owsianko went 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Panarella, Owsianko, and DeMaio hit doubles, and Southington rallied for 10 hits.
The second game proved to be a memorable one as Borkowski, Mercier and Romano combined for the first Southington no-hitter since Joe Daigle on July 7, 2013. Mercier and Brandon Kohl each had two hits.
Southington scored in all but the first and sixth innings and put the game out of reach with a 3-run rally in the top of the seventh. Chiaro and Topper scored doubles. Mercier (2-for-4, run, RBI) and Kohl (2-for-3, run) had multiple hits.
Split against Middletown
JULY 8—The first game of the Sunday home doubleheader went just fine as Southington hammered Middletown 14-4 in six innings.
Kohl and Topper both had two runs scored, three hits and three RBI. Mercier and Romano also had three RBI in the 13-hit effort. Verilli was the winning pitcher.
Post 72 had a rough second game, losing 10-0 in five innings. Ryan Henderson lasted just 2 1/3 innings before exiting with an arm injury. Tyler Cyr and Padden pitched in relief of Henderson.
Southington is 17-6 in the zone, 17-7 overall entering the final four games of the regular season. Post 72 faces Meriden twice, then has two against Guilford. Those are all single games.
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.