MIDDLETOWN, July 23 – For five innings, the Avon American Legion baseball team stood toe to toe with Zone 3 champion Middletown. But in the bottom of the sixth inning, Avon blinked. Middletown scored three runs on two hits, two errors and a few mental mistakes to beat Avon, 3-1 Saturday night at Palmer Field.
Avon (21-8) will face defending state champion Branford Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game at Palmer Field. Pitcher Brendan Telfer (5-1, 1.83 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball in the nine inning contest.
Against Middletown, Avon’s starting pitcher Matt Jadovich pitched well, allowing just four hits over five innings and getting out of two jams in the first and third inning. Chris Frask came on in relief but his defense let him down.
Middletown’s Jason Sinagra led off the bottom of the sixth inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Yuri Morin hit a ground ball to first baseman Jadovich, who tried to get Sinagra going to third base. He barely missed but the result was runners on first and third base with one out.
Middletown’s Greg Marino hit a hard chopping ball to shortstop Andrew Livingstone, who tossed the ball to second baseman Connor Doyle, who dropped it, as Sinagra scored to tie the game. James Arnone grounded to Livingstone, who tossed the ball to Doyle to get Marino for the second out. However, Doyle’s throw to Jadovich to try and get the double play was wide and resulted with Jadovich falling down backwards with the ball. Meanwhile, Morin raced home from second base for a 2-1 lead.
Another strange play kept the inning alive. Middletown DH Kyle Krajewski began trotting down to first base after ball 3. Arnone began walking to second and got caught in a rundown. But he managed to safely evade the tag and get into second base. On the next pitch, Krajewski ripped an RBI single to left-center field for a 3-1 lead.
In the seventh, Middletown pitcher Colin Sledzik (9-0, 7 strikeouts) gave up a single to Brandon Moss but got O’Connor to ground out and Tyler D’Onofrio to strike out to end the game. Avon finished with seven hits. Middletown had just six hits but a big sixth inning.
Avon took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Livingstone’s RBI single. Connor Doyle, who had singled, stolen second and moved to third in a passed ball, scored on the play.
Sledzik was outstanding. Three times, Avon had runners on second and third base with two outs and each time, Sledzik got out of the jam. Twice, he did it with strikeouts.
Due to the extreme heat and the threat of thunderstorms, all of Saturday’s tournament games were seven innings. They will be nine innings the remainder of the tournament.