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Avon Legion team has eyes on another Zone 1 title and a state championship

Avon left fielder Brady Williamson dives for a shallow fly ball into the outfield as center fielder Joseph Suski comes in to assist. The ball fell in for a single.

AVON, June 18 – The Avon American Legion baseball team has some big goals this year. Post 201 hopes to defend their Zone 1 championship, qualify for the state tournament, win it and capture a berth to the Northeast Regional.

Second-year coach Donny Annicelle isn’t focused on end-of-the season accolades at this point of the young 2017 campaign. “We have a mantra,” he said. “It’s one play at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time. If you can do that, you take each game as their own. We have to get better as a team.”

Avon returned every player from last year’s Zone 1 championship squad that went 20-8 and went 2-2 in the state tournament before falling in the four-team Northern Division finals.

“They have to keep improving,” Annicelle said. “No one is going to hand it to you. We have some talented kids. They just have to come together as a team. They should be comfortable with each other since they all played with each other last year.”

Pitchers Connor Harris (6-1 last summer), Justin Olsen (4-3) and Kyle Emery (6-1) return along with Chris Jacobs (3-0) and reliever Brady Williamson.

Wolcott’s Steve Urbanski slides into second base with a stolen base before shortstop Chris Jacobs can apply the tag in Sunday’s Zone 1 game in Avon.

First baseman Sean Del Gallo, who had a 15-game hit streak to open the season a year ago, returns along with outfielder Andrew LeDuc, infielder Sam Leopold (Westminister), utility player Ryan Ollestad, outfielder Jack Stokesbury, outfielder Joseph Suski (Avon Old Farms), outfielder Adam Theriault, infielder Will Thramann (Loomis Chaffee) and the Zarwanski brothers – Jeremy and Kyle.

Avon won their first seven games of the season this summer, pitching their fourth straight shutout Sunday with a 6-0 win over Wolcott in the first game of a Zone 1 doubleheader at Buckingham Field. It extended the streak of scoreless innings by Avon opponents to 29 consecutive innings.

“Our pitching has been phenomenal,” Annicelle said. “We’ve played good defense the last few games.”

Avon pitcher Connor Harris won his third game of the summer season with a shutout win over Wolcott.

That defensive prowess vanished in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader as Post 201 made a season-high four errors and gave up three unearned runs in a 5-1 loss to Wolcott, dropping their first contest of the season.

Avon (7-1, 7-1 Zone 1) was in control throughout the opening contest as pitcher Connor Harris improved to 3-0 on the season with a complete game performance in a 6-0 win. Harris allowed just three hits and struck out eight. He walked just four while throwing 94 pitches.

Avon took a 1-0 lead when Jacobs singled to center field. He moved to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt from LeDuc and scored after a pair of wild pitches.

Post 201 extended their lead in the third inning with a two-out rally. Adam Theriault singled to center field and moved to second base when Jacobs walked. Theriault scored on a RBI single from LeDuc. Two more runs came in on a two-RBI single to right field from Ollestad for a 4-0 lead.

LeDuc was 2-for-2 with one RBI while Theriault and Jacobs were 2-for-3. Jeremy Zarwanski was 2-for-4 for Avon.

In the second game, Avon got in trouble early. Emery hit the first batter he faced and walked the second. The first run eventually scored on an error. Avon tied the game at 1-1 when Del Gallo scored from third base on a ground ball from Jeremy Zarwanski.

Wolcott (4-3) took a 4-1 lead in the third inning. Two errors fueled the rally. Trey Nasti and Mike Warren had RBI singles for Wolcott.

Avon had just three hits in the nightcap with Del Gallo getting two hits and LeDuc getting a single.

Avon returns to the field on Wednesday when they host Unionville at Buckingham at 5:45 p.m., followed by a game against Torrington at Buckingham on Thursday, also at 5:45 p.m. Avon faces Simsbury for the first time this year at Memorial Field on Friday at 5 p.m.

Avon 6, Wolcott 0
At Avon
Wolcott (3-3)               000  000  0 – 0-3-0
Avon (7-0)                   013  020  x – 6-9-1
Nathan Murphy, Dave Hassan (4), Trey Nastri (7) and Jeffrey Nichol, Brad Grasso (5); Connor Harris and Ryan Ollestad; WP: Harris (3-0); LP: Murphy; 2B: Grasso (W); 3B: none; HR: none

Wolcott 5, Avon 1
At Avon
Wolcott (4-3)               103  000  1 – 5-9-1
Avon (7-1)                  100  000  0 – 1-3-4
Steve Urbanski and Brad Grasso; Kyle Emery, Brady Williamson (5) and Jeremy Zarwanski; WP: Urbanski; LP: Emery (2-1); 2B: none; 3B: none; HR: none

Zone 1 standings as of June 18

  Zone 1 Pct. Overall GB
Avon 7-1 .875 7-1
Bristol 5-1-1 .786 6-2-1 1
Winsted 5-3 .625 5-3 2
Southington 5-3 .625 5-3 2
Wolcott 4-3-1 .563 4-3-1
Simsbury 3-3-1 .500 3-3-1 3
Unionville 2-6 .250 2-6 5
Torrington 2-8 .200 2-8 6
Terryville 1-6-1 .188 1-6-1 6

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.

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