Ever since it was first formed in 1948, the Simsbury American Legion baseball team has attracted talent from area towns. This year is no different.
The Zone 1 champions have players from Simsbury, Canton, Granby and East Granby on its roster. In the past, they have had players from Avon before Avon formed its own Legion squad.
Post 84 has 18 players on its roster and seven come from Canton – a larger number than normal. Usually, it has been a player or two from Canton on the squad. In some years, there have been no Canton players.
Simsbury coach Tom Vincent III said he doesn’t pay much attention to where the kids live. When the team holds tryouts, he is looking for the best talent he can find.
Canton’s seven players are:
- pitcher/first baseman Chris Enns
- pitcher Kevin Gurry
- pitcher Peter Myers
- infielder Jack Nedorostek
- second baseman/shortstop Brendan Reilly
- catcher/first baseman/outfielder Jake Wood
- outfielder Chris VandeBogart
Canton had an American Legion team for five seasons in the early 1990s but the team never won more than seven games in a single season. Now, this Simsbury team is fueled, in part, by a group of Canton players as Post 84 continues on its quest for a state championship.
Simsbury (20-6) is one of four teams in the Northern Division finals, a double-elimination event this weekend at Muzzy Field in Bristol. The winner of the Northern Division earns a berth in the best-of-3 state championship series on Aug. 1-2 in Stamford against the Southern Division champion. The Northern Division champion also earns a berth in the Northeast Regional tournament beginning August 7 in Middletown.
Gurry, Enns, Wood and Reilly played on the Canton High School squad that had a rough spring under first-year coach Greg Brisco, going 3-17. Wood was an All-NCCC catcher for the Warriors but plays first base for Post 84. Enns was an All-State pitcher as a junior before injuring his arm and getting Tommy John surgery last June from nationally-known surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Florida.
Myers had an outstanding freshman season at the Master’s School in Simsbury, going 5-1 in 35 innings with 55 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.00. Nedorostek, a junior infielder, played on an Avon Old Farms team that went 17-3 and shared the Founder’s League championship.
VandeBogart, who graduated from Canton High 2013, was a freshman this spring at Central Connecticut State in New Britain. He didn’t play baseball at CCSU.
An eighth player has deep ties to Canton, too. Dakota Hunter lived in Canton through the eighth grade before his family moved to Simsbury. Hunted played Little League ball in Canton and had over a dozen home runs as a 12-year-old until opposing coaches told their pitchers to stop giving him anything good to hit.
All seven Canton players have had their moments this year with Simsbury Legion squad.
“Our depth has helped us all season,” Vincent said. “It’s been a different guy every night. We don’t always start the same lineup each night so it keeps everyone on their toes. And the kids like each other. It’s a good team atmosphere.”
Enns is recovering from surgery last summer. The 6-foot-3 lefthander only pitched three innings this spring with Canton and played first base. But he has been cleared to pitch with Simsbury, has made six starts and is 3-1. He gave up just one hit and struck out four in Simsbury’s 11-0 win over Wolcott in five innings earlier this month.
He made a huge contribution in Simsbury’s 10-0 win in seven innings over Hartford on Thursday to earn a berth in the Northern Division finals. Limited to just 90 pitches, he threw 89 and went the distance. He scattered four hits and struck out seven.
Myers, 15, made a big jump this year to American Legion ball. A year ago, he was on Canton/Granby’s Little League Junior Division team (ages 13-14) that finished second in the state.
The 6-foot-1 righthander has pitched well this summer. He pitched six strong innings in a 3-2 win over Avon in eight innings last week, scattering three hits, striking out four and allowing just one earned run. He pitched five strong innings in a 7-1 win over Southington in June. He’s scheduled to get the start for Post 84 Saturday morning in the Northern Division final at Muzzy Field in Bristol.
Gurry won his first four starts of the year with wins over Newington, Wolcott, Winsted and Terryville.
Wood has contributed with solid defense and a big bat. He hit a towering grand slam that sailed out of Fuessenich Park in Torrington and into the Naugatuck River. Some claim it cleared the river. Wood had the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning of Simsbury’s 3-2 win over Avon that helped Post 84 claim the Zone 1 title for the first time since 2008.
In Wednesday night’s 7-0 win over Hartford in Simsbury’s state tournament debut, Wood had a single, double and three RBI to lead Post 84. Wood had a key two-RBI single in the third inning to help fuel a four run rally to give Simsbury the lead.
Nedorostek starts at third base and had six assists in the two Hartford games. He had a single in game two against Hartford and scored from second base on a passed ball.
VandeBogart started in right field in the pivotal third game against Avon and gives Post 84 speed and depth in the outfield. He had two hits and an RBI in the 10-0 win over Hartford Thursday.
Reilly was a starter at second base in the early half of the season. Lately, he is coming off the bench. He did get the start in the 10-0 win over Hartford Thursday and had four assists.
“It’s nice knowing everyone from Canton,” Enns said. “The Canton kids are awesome. But it’s not just them. The team chemistry is the best it could possibly be. It’s probably the best team chemistry that I have been around. All of the guys have their heads in the game and are focused.”