AVON, July 24 – The Avon American Legion baseball team had visions of a deep run in the Connecticut American Legion baseball tournament this summer.
A year ago, Post 201 had advanced to the finals of the Northern Division, falling two wins shy of a berth in the state championship series and an invitation to the Northeast Regional.
This summer, Avon went 16-2 and won their third straight Zone 1 championship. But Post 201 never got rolling in the state tournament. Avon trailed Windsor – a team that won just nine games in the regular season — by three runs in their tournament opener before rallying with five runs for a victory.
Avon stumbled with just four hits in a one-run loss to Tri-County, a team from Lebanon, Andover, Hebron and Marlborough on Sunday. And in Tuesday’s elimination game, Avon couldn’t never grab in the lead in a 7-5 loss to Windsor in Group A play to end the season.
Windsor (11-13), a team made up primarily of players who helped Windsor High School advance to the Class L championship game in June, won their second straight game and will face Tri-County (15-8) in the Group A final Wednesday in Lebanon. Windsor would have to beat Tri-County twice to earn a spot in the four-team Northern Division final that begins this weekend in Bristol.
Avon had just three hits in the game and gave up eight hits to Windsor, which grabbed a quick 4-0 lead after just a half inning of action at Buckingham Field.
“Things don’t always go the way you want them,” Avon manager Stephen Harris said. “Life isn’t a fairy tale. It was a very special season with a very talented group of young men who have been winning for a long time. It just wasn’t our day from the get-go.”
Harris believed this team could achieve big things – including competing for a state championship and possibly a regional title.
Windsor got in the way. “We knew we had a team that could compete,” Windsor manager Marcos Mazza said. “It was just believing in ourselves. We needed to dig deep and remember what we did in the high school season. I knew we could make some noice in the (American Legion state) tournament.”
Windsor grabbed a quick 4-0 lead off Avon starting pitcher Will Boone. Jaylen DeJesus had a RBI single while Jordan Irizarry had a two out, two-RBI double to help boost Windsor.
Avon scored once in the first inning and added three more in the third inning to tie the game at 4-4.
Avon had the bases loaded with one out in the third inning when catcher Jeremy Zarwanski grounded to Windsor first baseman Alex Rosario, who immediately stepped forward to try and throw out the run at the plate. But Justin Olson scored when the Windsor catcher dropped the ball to cut the lead to 4-2.
Avon reduced the lead to one, 4-3, on Chris Jacobs’ RBI single. They scored a fourth run when Avon’s Dylan Nastri got caught in a rundown when he wandered too far off third base. Nastri collided with the Windsor catcher, who dropped the ball and Nastri was able to score and tie the game at 4-4.
Windsor took a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning on Irizarry’s RBI single with two outs.
Avon tied it in the fifth inning with a two-out rally. Zarwanski walked and moved to second on a single from Jacobs. Will Boone hit a slow roller that went about 10 feet up the first base line. Boone raced down the first base line and beat out the throw. Meanwhile, Zarwanski was running hard and scored all the way from second base to tie the game at 5-5.
Windsor added two more runs in the sixth inning. Matthew Lewczyk and Novian Rivera led off the inning with singles. Avon got two outs but then intentionally walked DeJesus (2-for-3, double) to the bases.
Unfortunately for Avon, Jacobs walked the next two batters to give Windsor a 7-5 lead.
DeJesus got the job done on the mound, too. He pitched the final 4.2 innings of the game to pick up the win, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Windsor 7, Avon 5
Windsor (11-13) 400 012 0 — 7-8-1
Avon (17-4) 103 010 0 — 5-3-1
Joseph Shippy, Jaylen DeJesus (3) and Marcos Massa, Jr.; Will Boone, Dylan Nastri (1), Chris Jacobs (3), Jake Coppen (6) and Jeremy Zarwanski; WP: DeJesus; LP: Jacobs (0-1); 2B: DeJesus (W), Jordan Irizarry (W)
Saturday, July 21
Avon 5, Windsor 3
Tri-Country 2, Willimantic 0
Sunday, July 22
Tri-Country 4, Avon 3
Monday, July 23
Windsor 3, Willimantic 2, Willimantic eliminated
Tuesday, July 24
Windsor 7, Avon 5, Avon eliminated
Wednesday, July 25
Game 6: Tri-County (15-8, Zone 7) vs. Windsor (11-13), 2 p.m.
Game 7: Tri-County (15-8, Zone 7) vs. Windsor, If necessary
Winner advances to 4-team Northern Division regional in Bristol