After winning their first American Legion state championship in 25 years, Southington Post 72 traveled to Massachusetts to play in the Northeast Regional.
Southington returned home on the night of Aug. 11 with a 2-2 record. Post 72 played four games in as many days at two different sites in conditions ranging from hot and sunny to a near monsoon. Here’s what happened over Southington’s week in Massachusetts.
First Round loss
AUG. 8—Post 72 played its first game against Vermont champion Essex Post 91 in Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in Worcester and came away with a tough 4-1 loss.
Essex pitcher Maverick King handcuffed Southington and pitched a complete game. King gave up a run on five hits, struck out nine, walked one and hit one.
Dylan Chiaro had two hits, including a double, and scored the lone run for Post 72. Jason Krar was the losing pitcher.
Second round victory
AUG 9—Southington made sure Ellington didn’t shut down its bats in the third meeting between the teams.
Post 72 pounded out 12 hits and won 12-1 to stay alive in the regional and knock Ellington out. Tyler Cyr was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored out of the No. 8 slot in the lineup. Danny Topper went 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Dylan Chiaro and Josh Panarella (double) each had a hit, a run scored and two RBI. Brayden Cooney added two RBI while Jeremy Mercier, Brandon Kohl (2 runs scored), Andrew Owsianko and Eric Padden each drove in one run.
Nick Borkowski pitched the first 3 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits on his way to the win. Borkowski struck out four and walked one. Justin Verrilli tossed three innings of two-hit relief, and Connor Patenaude retired the game’s final batter on just one pitch.
AUG. 10—Ryan Henderson threw a complete-game shutout for Post 72 as eliminated New Hampshire champion Rochester by the score of 3-0.
Henderson gave up four hits, struck out six and walked just one batter. Brayden Cooney ripped a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the second inning for Southington’s first run. Brandon Kohl scored the second Post 72 after walking to lead off the third. Kohl stole second base, then scored on Dylan Chiaro’s single for a 2-0 lead. Danny Topper scored the third Post 72 run in the fifth inning after reaching on a single. Topper moved up to second and third on two separate errors, then scored on a balk.
Jake Romano and Jeremy Mercier each had a hit for Southington.
Semifinals: End of the road
AUG. 11—Southington’s season ended with a rough 10-3 loss to Braintree, the Massachusetts champion and eventual Northeast Regional champion.
For the first time in four games, Post 72 had to play somewhere other than Worcester. After some discussion, the morning game wound up being an afternoon affair at Auburn High School on the baseball team’s turf field. Constant rain brought Southington’s game and the completion of the Shrewsbury-Portland game to Auburn.
Brayden Cooney gave Post 72 its first and only lead with a two-out RBI double in the top of the first inning. The double scored Danny Topper.
Braintree hit back for three runs in the bottom frame off Southington starter Justin Verrilli. Post 86 scored two more runs in the second inning off of Jason Krar to go ahead 5-1.
Post 72 picked up two runs in the third to get the score back to 5-3. Brandon Kohl scored on a wild pitch, then Cooney smacked his second RBI double of the game. Southington set Braintree down 1-2-3 in the bottom frame, which included a diving stop a third and throw to first by Andrew Owsianko.
Tyler Cyr did turn in a spectacular diving catch in the fourth inning. He dove for a sinking liner in left field, nabbed it, and threw back into the infield for a double play.
Southington could never get closer than two runs. Braintree scored three times in the fourth inning and one time in the fifth and sixth to pull away.
Cooney finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single and two RBI to lead Post 72. Kohl and Jake Romano each had two hits.
Southington finished the season with a record of 29-11.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.