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Avon Legion regains sharpness

The moon glows overhead in the late innings of Wednesday’s Zone 1 win over Simsbury at Avon Old Farms.

AVON, June 27 – It had been about a week since the Avon American Legion baseball team looked sharp on the field. Post 201 had two wins in a five-game stretch but didn’t have the same crispness that they had in a 7-2 decision over previously undefeated Torrington on June 20.

Avon manager Brian Doyle saw some of that crispness on Sunday night. Post 201 split a Zone 1 doubleheader with Southington, winning game one 3-1 and dropping game two, 2-1 on a two-out single that just barely fair down the right field line.

“Tonight was great,” Doyle said. “We had outstanding pitching for 14 innings and we didn’t make an error. We played flawless baseball.”
A week earlier, Doyle said that Avon (10-6, 8-6 Zone 1) played its best game of the year in a 7-2 decision over Torrington that handed Post 38 its first loss of the season. Avon was listless in game two and lost in the bottom of the seventh, 3-2.

Avon was particularly sharp against Terryville and Simsbury but managed to win both games. Avon had three runs in the top of the seventh to beat Terryville, 5-3. Two days later, Post 201 used three bunts in the bottom of the seventh including a pair of suicide squeeze bunts to beat Simsbury for the second time ever, 4-3.

Last Friday, Avon made 10 errors in two games and was swept aside by a grieving but hard-hitting Bristol squad, 7-0 and 9-0 at Muzzy Field. It was Bristol’s first game back on the field since one of their players died in a hiking accident two days earlier at Sleeping Giant State Park in Haddam.

“It was our worst game of the year,” Doyle said. “One through nine, they can hit the ball well.”

Against Southington, Post 201 was sharp. Sean Lanahan pitched 6.1 strong innings in the opener, scattering four hits and striking out three. Chris Frask struck out two to earn the save.

Avon scored runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to secure the win. In the fifth, Dave Wyrick walked, moved to second on a sacrifice from Liam O’Connor and scored on Brendan Telfer’s RBI single.

Post 201 took the 2-1 lead in the sixth when Andrew Livingstone walked and scored on T.J. Stolzenberg’s RBI double. They added an insurance run in the seventh. Wyrick reached on an error, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on O’Connor’s RBI single. The win snapped a seven-game win streak by Southington (9-4).

Frask started game two and pitched four strong innings. He gave up just three hits, two in the fourth. Jeff Mazzamuro tripled to lead off the fourth and scored on a one-out RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.

Avon took a 1-0 lead in the third after three two-out walks allowed Telfer to score from first base.
Southington loaded the bases in the seventh with a two-out walk from Wyrick to Chris Lee. George Dibble followed with a long fly ball down the right field line that just landed inside the foul line for the game-winning single.

Avon stranded 11 runners in game two. They left runners on second and third base in the seventh inning when Post 72 reliever Mark Cole got Lanahan to fly deeply to center field to end the threat.

Against Simsbury, on the same day that the U.S. men’s national soccer team escaped its World Cup game with Algeria on Landon Donovan’s memorable last-second goal, Avon had the game-winning rally at Avon Old Farms in a 4-3 victory.

“We dug deep and found a way. It’s a fun team to coach,” Doyle said.

Avon looked listless through the first three innings with just one hit as Simsbury took a 3-0 lead. But visiting Post 84 couldn’t extend its lead despite numerous opportunities. Simsbury stranded 12 runners on base and left the bases loaded twice.

“We have to break it open when we get the chance,” Simsbury coach Tom Vincent, Jr., said. “We need that timely hit.”

Avon scored its first run in the fourth when Livingstone singled to left field, moved to third on Stolzenberg’s double and scored on a fielder’s choice from Lanahan. Post 201 cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth. Livingstone led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a walk, took third on an infield hit by Lanahan and scored on a bases-loaded walk to Kevin Deming.

But Simsbury escaped further damage when catcher Connor Doyle popped up a bunt attempt and Stolzenberg was thrown out at home on an attempted suicide squeeze.

In the bottom of the seventh, Tyler Papa drew a walk from Simsbury reliever Tom Bourdon. He moved to second when Telfer hustled down the line to beat out his attempted sacrifice bunt for a single. Both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt from Tyler Grouten.

Papa scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Jason Moore to Bourdon. But the throw home was bobbled by Simsbury catcher Matt Dalhmore and Papa tied the game at 3-3. Moore moved to second on the throw home.

Livingstone came to the plate and tried to bunt and missed. Telfer tried to score from third on a suicide squeeze and was tagged out. But when Moore tried to scamper to third, Dalhmore throw sailed into the outfield and Moore scampered home with the winning run.

“Tonight, we did it by hanging around,” Doyle said. Pitcher David Lavoie had an off night hitting four Simsbury batters in 2 2/3 innings. But he didn’t allow a run and struck out J.R. Phillips looking in the fifth with runners on second and third base.

Against Terryville, Avon trailed by a run entering the seventh inning. But Deming led off with a pinch hit double and Liam O’Connor followed beat out a bunt to put runners on first and third base. Livingstone ripped an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. Sean Lanahan and Stolzenberg each had RBI sacrifice flies.

Frask struck out four in two innings of relief to ice the win. He also earned the win in relief against Simsbury, Avon’s first victory over Post 84 since 1997. Avon didn’t field a Legion squad from 2001-08.

After a three-day holiday break, Avon gets busy next week. They host Terryville in a doubleheader on Monday at Avon Old Farms at 4 p.m. and host Torrington on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. They are at Wolcott on Wednesday and host Burlington next Thursday.

Avon needs seven more wins in Zone 1 to qualify for the state tournament.
Upcoming games
Home games at Avon Old Farms
June 25:  Bristol 7-9, Avon 0-0
June 27: Avon 3-1, Southington 1-2
June 29: Avon 1, Unionville 0
Wed. June 30: WINSTED, 5:45
Thurs. July 1: at Burlington, 5:45
Mon. July 5: TERRYVILLE (2), 3
Tues. July 6: TORRINGTON, 5:45
Wed. July 7: at Wolcott, 5:45
Thurs. July 8: BURLINGTON, 5:45
Fri. July 9: WEST HARTFORD, 5:45

Sun. July 11: at Simsbury (2), 5



Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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