SOUTH WINDSOR, July 23 – The Avon American Legion baseball team isn’t afraid of a little adversity.
Post 201 played toe-to-toe with defending state champion and Northeast Regional champion RCP (Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Portland) in Saturday’s Northern Division tournament at Rotary Field in South Windsor.
Avon pitcher Connor Harris scattered seven hits over seven innings and held RCP to just one run, which came in on a balk. Avon’s cleanup hitter Jeremy Zarwanski and manager Donny Annicelle were ejected in the first inning after Zarwanski used an illegal bat (composite not wood), according to a report in the Hartford Courant. But Avon came right back, scoring a run on Andrew LeDuc’s single to right field to take a 1-0 lead.
Post 201 took the lead in the eighth inning on a RBI single from Will Thramann. But RCP didn’t wilt, winning the game with a RBI single to left field from Trevor Whalen to earn a 3-2 decision in eight innings.
Avon (20-7) falls into the consolation bracket in the four-team, double-elimination tournament. Post 201 faces Tolland Sunday at 1 p.m. at Rotary Field. The winner advances to play again on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Rotary Field against the winner of Sunday’s game between RCP and New London. For the loser of the contest, the season will be over.
RCP has won the last two Northeast Regional tournaments. They captured the Zone 7 championship again but Avon had some early success against RCP starter Joe Vail.
Sean Del Gallo led off the game with a single to left field and moved to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt from Thramann. Olson reached base with a single, putting runners on first and third base.
Zarwanski singled, driving in Del Gallo to give Avon the lead. But when the umpires checked Zarwanski’s bat, he was ejected for using an illegal bat. Del Gallo was back to third base and Olson was sent back to first base. But LeDuc wasted little time with a single to right field to give Avon an early 1-0 lead.
RCP responded in the first inning. Corey Baldwin singled to right field and moved to third base on a single from Austin White. Baldwin scored on a balk by Harris to tie up the contest.
Reliever Amir Nitowski took over for RCP in the third inning and Harris and Nitowski settled into a pitching duel. Harris let his defense make the plays behind him while Nitkowski struck out six and allowed just one run in over five innings of work.
Avon took a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning. With one out, Del Gallo walked. He scored the go-ahead run on Thramann’s RBI double to left field. Justin Olson followed with a walk but Nitkowski picked up consecutive strikeouts to limit the damage.
In the eighth, Harris gave up a one-out walk to Nick Queiroz, who was replaced by pinch runner Luke Matchett. He moved to second on a Cory Baldwin single to center field.
Avon went to Olson to close out the contest. But Olson struggled to find the plate. Nine of his first 10 pitches were balls. He threw just one strike in that stretch.
Olson walked Cole Ogorzalek on four straight pitches to load the bases. Matchett tied the game, scoring on a passed ball. After throwing consecutive balls, Avon decided to intentionally walk Austin White to again the load the bases. Trevor Whalen hit a RBI single to left field to win the game for RCP and give Post 105 a 3-2 decision.
RCP 3, Avon 2 (8)
At South Windsor
Avon (20-7) 100 000 01 – 2-6-0
RCP (26-5) 100 000 02 – 3-8-1
Connor Harris, Justin Olson and Jeremy Zarwanski, Kyle Emery (1); Joe Vail, Amir Nitowski (3) and unknown; WP: Nitowski; LP: Harris (6-2); 2B: Chris Jacobs (A), Will Thramann (A); 3B: none; HR: none