AVON, August 30, 2020 – In most years, a District 6 Little League tournament game comes in early July with a plenty of warm, sunny summer days ahead of everyone and the thoughts of schoolwork in the distance.
We all know that nothing about 2020 has been normal – the COVID-19 pandemic has seen to that, delaying, modifying and canceling many cultural traditions.
A little bit of normalcy returned Sunday at Sperry Park. The District 6 Little League baseball tournament got underway when All-Star teams from Simsbury and Avon squaring off in the double-elimination event.
The traditional Little League season that runs from April through June was cancelled along with baseball at all levels – high school, collegiate and professional. But with the hard work of residents to keep their distance and stay healthy, baseball returned in July.
A shortened Little League season was held in July. Now, the District 6 tournament is underway with winners hoping to earn a berth in the state tournament.
“This is awesome,” Avon All-Star manager Don Mahoney said Sunday. “It’s been a tough year for these kids in a lot of ways. To be able to get here and have a little normalcy is really great for them.”
Simsbury All-Star manager Brian Busam agreed. “Just to be here and being able to play on a beautiful day in Avon doesn’t get much better than this. There was a little hint of fall in the air. It was great.”
Simsbury (1-0) rapped out 12 hits including two doubles as they rolled to a 10-0 win over Avon in five innings in the Major Division (ages 11-12) opener for both teams. Nathan Gritzmacher, Nathan Odegard and Brady Naspo each had two hits for Simsbury, which will play at Tri-Town in Litchfield on Monday in the second round of the tournament.
Avon will host Canton on Monday night at 5:45 p.m. at Sperry Park with the losing team being eliminated from the tournament.
A majority of Simsbury’s team played in the Minor Division (ages 9-11) Little League tournament last year that went 10-3, won the D6 title, captured a sectional title and advanced to the final four of the state tournament.
“They wanted another chance at the state (tournament),” Busam said.
Simsbury took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after Gritzmacher doubled and scored on a throwing error. Simsbury broke it open in the third inning with five runs thanks to five consecutive hits including RBI singles from Brodie Busam and Odegard along with a RBI double from Noah Krafft.
A RBI single from Tommy Beaulieu clinched the contest in the fifth inning.
Two Simsbury pitchers – Gritzmacher and Stephen Griffiths – allowed just two hits and struck out seven Avon batters. Gritzmacher struck out four in three innings of work to earn the victory on the mound.
Simsbury travels to Falls Village on Monday to face Steve Blass Northwest Connecticut All-Stars in a game beginning at 5:45 p.m.
Mason Gordan had a single in the first inning for Avon while Owen Gawitt had a single in the third inning.
A crew of Avon parents helped make the field playable after Saturday evening’s rainstorm with several hours of work on Sunday.
The game was played with restrictions due to the pandemic and to keep players, coaches and officials safe. Coaches and umpires work masks at all times and the players were seated in their own chairs down their respective baselines. Players supplied their own equipment, including helmets.
Balls and strikes were called with the umpire standing behind the pitcher on the field instead of behind the catcher at home plate.
Simsbury 10, Avon 0 (5)
Avon (0-1) 000 00 — 0-2-3
Simsbury (1-0) 105 31 — 10-12-2
Ryan Fitting, Tommy Mango (3), William Lamadrid (5) and Jimmy Walsh; Nathan Gritzmacher, Stephen Griffiths (4) and Brady Naspo; WP: Gritzmacher (1-0); LP: Fitting (0-1); 2B: Gritzmacher (S), Noah Kraftt (S)
2020 District 6 Tournaments
Major Division Baseball (ages 11-12)
Sunday, August 30
Tri-Town 5, Torrington 2
Burlington 4, East Granby/Granby 3
Steve Blass NW Connecticut (Falls Village) 9, Canton 8
Simsbury 10, Avon 0 (5)
Monday, August 31
Game 5: Torrington vs. East Granby/Granby in Granby, loser eliminated, 5:45 p.m.
Game 6: Canton at Avon, loser eliminated, 5:45 p.m.
Game 7: Burlington at Tri-Town, 5:45 p.m.
Game 8: Simsbury vs. Steve Blass (NW Connecticut) in Falls Village, 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, September 1
Game 9: Loser game 8 at winner game 5, loser eliminated, 5:45 p.m.
Game 10: Loser game 7 at winner game 6, loser eliminated, 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday, September 2
Game 11: Winner game 8 at winner game 7, winner advances to final, 5:45 p.m.
Game 12: Winner game 9 at winner game 10, loser eliminated, 5:45 p.m.
Thursday, September 3
Game 13: Loser game 11 at winner game 12, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, September 4
Championship: Winner game 13 at winner game 11, 5:45 p.m
Saturday, September 5
Championship: Winner game 13 at winner game 11, if necessary