SIMSBURY, June 26 – Avon American Legion baseball manager Steve Harris feels a little bad about calling for his team to put down sacrifice bunts – especially with his No. 1 (Justin Olson) and No. 2 (Jake Coppen) hitters.
“They’re all good hitters,” Harris said Tuesday night. “No one wants to bunt. They all want to hit. But a (successful) sacrifice bunt with a wooden bat in American Legion baseball is as big as a home run, especially when you can execute.”
Avon successfully laid down four sacrifice bunts against Simsbury at Memorial Field and that led to two runs as Post 201 handed Simsbury their first loss of the season with a 4-0 Zone 1 victory. Avon had just two hits but they took advantage of four Simsbury errors, five walks and had a pair of stolen bases.
“This was a huge win for us,” Harris said. “You have to find ways to score and we did that today. We put pressure on them and they committed (four) errors. We took advantage. That’s good baseball and that kind of baseball will take us deep into the summer.”
The two squads played 10 innings of scoreless baseball earlier this month and will resume that game in July in Avon.
Post 201 moved into first place in Zone 1 with a 7-1 record while Simsbury slipped into a second place tie with Bristol at 5-1.
“We had a couple of chances (against Olson – the starting pitcher for Avon) but we couldn’t get any timely hits at all,” Simsbury skipper Thomas Vincent said. “You don’t get too many chances with (Olson). Defensively, we have to make some of those plays.” Three of Avon’s four runs were unearned.
It was a rough start for Simsbury (9-1, 5-1 Zone 1) when starting pitcher Nate Langmeier left the game after just eight pitches when his arm didn’t feel right. He went to the hospital to have it checked out.
Aidan Walsh from East Granby High came on in relief and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two. But he walked three and got little support from his Simsbury teammates, who committed four errors behind him.
Avon (8-2, 7-1 Zone 1) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Olson coaxed a two-out walk from Walsh and stole second base. When Jake Coppen walked, an alert Olson quickly scampered to third base with another stolen base.
Olson scored when Dylan Nastri reached on an error by second baseman J.W. Wilson for a 1-0 lead. Three errors led to another two Avon runs in the fifth inning.
Miles Borenstein led off the inning by reaching on error and moving to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt from Olson. Borenstein scored on fly ball to centerfield off the bat of Jake Coppen for a 2-0 lead.
Nastri reached on an error and moved to second base on an interference call. He scored when catcher Jeremy Zarwanski reached on an error for a 3-0 lead.
That was enough for Olson (2-0) who wasn’t as sharp as he has been earlier this season. He struck out five but walked four and hit two batters.
Simsbury loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning a walk and two hit batters. J.W. Wilson ripped a hard shot that looked like it went over the third base bag but it was called foul. It would have scored at least one run. Olson got Wilson to ground out to first base to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, Simsbury had runners on first and second base with two outs but Olson struck out Luke Benneche to end the threat. In the fifth, Simsbury had runners on second and third base with two outs but Olson got Wilson to ground it back to him to end the inning.
Avon added an insurance run in the seventh inning. Olson led off with a walk and moved to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt. He scored on Nastri’s RBI single to center field – Avon’s second hit of the game – for a 4-0 lead. Adam Therriault had Avon’s other hit in the fourth inning.
Olson pitched five innings for Avon, allowing just one hit. Connor Harris came on to throw the last two innings. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out two.
The Zone 1 rivals will play their final regular season game on July 10 in Avon. They’ll start a little earlier than the 5 p.m. start and complete the 10-inning contest from earlier this month. And afterwards, they will play their normal, regularly scheduled contest.
Avon returns to action on Wednesday when they travel to Wolcott (2-6). Simsbury will travel to Plainville (2-6) on Wednesday night.
Avon 4, Simsbury 0
Avon (8-2) 001 020 1 – 4-2-0
Simsbury (9-1) 000 000 0 – 0-1-4
Justin Olson, Connor Harris (6) and Jeremy Zarwanski; Nate Langmeier, Aidan Walsh (1), Dylan Schaetzel (6), Mason Valentino (7) and Valentino, Adam Wilson (7), J.W. Wilson (7); WP: Olson (2-0); LP: Walsh (2-1)
|*Game with Simsbury tied 1-1, suspended after 8 innings
**Game with Simsbury tied 0-0, suspended after 10 innings
Simsbury 12, Torrington 2
Winsted 5, Bristol 2
Avon 4, Simsbury 0
Winsted 6, Torrington 2
Bristol at Winsted
Avon at Wolcott
Simsbury at Plainville
Avon at Bristol, 7:45 p.m.
Winsted at Simsbury, 5:30 p.m.
Torrington at Plainville, 5:45 p.m.