By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington American Legion Post 72 baseball began last week with a tough 5-3 home loss to Avon Post 201 in the first game of their July 8 doubleheader.
What followed after that defeat was a masterful performance by Brandan Kavanagh that ended in a no-hitter and a 10-0 victory. Southington took two of three games from Newington, then beat West Hartford and Simsbury over the weekend on the road to finish the week with a 5-2 record.
Post 72 had a 17-6 record entering the regular season finale on Monday at home against Simsbury.
Here’s what happened last week:
Avon 5, Southington 3 (Game 1)
JULY 8—One inning was all it took for Post 201 to seize control of the first game of the doubleheader.
Avon scored four runs in the top of the third inning to snap a 1-1 tie, and the five runs total wound up being enough for winning pitcher Jake Coppen. Southington hit the ball hard off of Coppen, but more often than that, the balls that were solidly struck were right at Avon fielders.
Kyle Leifert pitched four scoreless innings in relief to keep Post 72 in the game. He gave up two hits and struck out two. Bryce Worth started and took the loss.
At the plate, Leifert was 2-for-4 while Aneesh Avancha singled, scored a run and drove in another. Tyler Strong and Ethan McDonough each had an RBI while Nick Borkowski tripled and scored a run. Worth added a single and run scored.
Southington 10, Avon 0 (Game 2)
JULY 8—Kavanagh overcame a sluggish start and recorded 14 straight outs to finish off his no-hitter.
“You could see it in the first couple innings. He had that look in his eye,” coach Marc Verderame said. “He was getting mad, he was getting upset at himself for missing spots, and I was like momma there goes that man. I knew he was going to do something special tonight, and he did it.”
Jeremy Mercier went 2-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base, two runs scored and an RBI to help Kavanagh out on offense. Sean Crean was 2-for-2 with a triple, three runs scored and an RBI while Will Marshall went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Jake Romano singled, scored a run and drove in two runs while Brandon Kohl singled, stole a base, and scored two runs. Strong had a sacrifice fly, two walks, two runs scored and two RBI while Worth doubled and drove in two runs. Ethan McDonough singled, walked and stole a base.
“We’ve preached it, it’s going to be a fight,” Verderame said. “We’re seeing everybody’s good pitchers, we’re going to lose some rounds, that’s for sure, but we bounced right back. Win the next round, win the next at bat, win the next game, and we’ve done that.”
Southington 10, Newington 0 (6 innings)
JULY 10—Post 72 pounded out 15 hits, including seven doubles, in the blowout road win over Post 117 at Alumni Field in Newington.
Strong was 3-for-3 with a double, walk, run scored and two RBI while McDonough went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a stolen base, three runs scored and an RBI. Josh Panarella was 2-for-4 with a double, run scored and three RBI while Crean went 2-for-5 with a double, stolen base, three runs scored and an RBI. Connor Patenaude doubled, walked twice, stole a base, scored a run and drove in two more. Mercier doubled and drove in a run while Kohl doubled, was hit by a pitch, stole a base and scored a run.
Nick Borkowski went all six innings to pick up the win. Borkowski scattered four hits and struck out three on 61 pitches.
Southington 3, Newington 1
JULY 11—Justin Verrilli pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball and claimed the home win for Post 72.
Verrilli (1 run, 5 hits, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hit batters) was able to outduel Post 117’s Joe Zawisza, who pitched all six innings. Zawisza gave up three runs (two earned), six hits, six strikeouts and one walk. Mercier threw the last 1.1 innings (one strikeout) for the save, his first of the season.
Mercier went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI at the plate. Patenaude was 1-for-2 with a run scored and RBI while Panarella tripled, walked and scored a run. Strong singled and scored a run.
Mercier doubled home Patenaude and Strong for a 2-0 lead in the third inning. In the fourth, Panarella tripled and scored on a two-out error for a 3-0 lead. Newington got a run back in the top of the sixth, but Mercier ended a bases loaded threat with a strikeout.
Newington 5, Southington 3
JULY 12—Post 72 had nine hits, but left 12 on base in the loss at Newington’s Alumni Field.
Kohl was 2-for-3 with a hit by pitch and stolen base while Leifert had a single, sacrifice fly, walk, stolen base and RBI. Crean singled, walked, scored a run and drove in a run while Romano doubled, walked and drove in a run. Bryce Worth started and took the loss to drop to 0-2.
Southington 7, W. Hartford 3
JULY 13—Post 72 saved their best for last, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the win over Post 96 at Hall High School.
Southington trailed 3-2 entering the last inning. Crean drew a one-out walk, then scored on Romano’s two-out single to tie the game, 3-3. Romano moved up to second on the throw home, then took third on a wild pitch with Panarella at the plate. Panarella drew a walk, then Leifert singled home Romano for a 4-3 Post 72 lead. McDonough walked to load the bases, then Avancha singled to score Panarella for a 5-3 lead. Leifert and McDonough scored when the outfield throw following Avancha’s hit went out of play.
Leifert went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI to lead the offense. Ryan Henderson threw 1.2 innings in relief of Jason Krar to pick up the win. Henderson gave up one hit, struck out four and walked two.
Southington 2, Simsbury 1
JULY 14—Strong drove in single runs in the fourth and sixth innings to back Borkowski’s effort on the mound in the road win at Memorial Field in Simsbury.
Strong finished with a double, hit by pitch and two RBI while Kohl (single, hit by pitch, stolen base) and Leifert (walk) added a run scored apiece. Borkowski fired a complete game on 102 pitches for the win (1 unearned run, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk).
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com