AVON, June 23 – On the same day that the U.S. men’s national soccer team escaped its World Cup game with Algeria with a last-second goal to earn a thrilling, emotional victory, the Avon American Legion baseball team came up with a comeback of its own.
Post 201 used three bunts in the bottom of the seventh including a pair of suicide squeeze bunts to beat Simsbury for the second time ever in a 4-3 win at Avon Old Farms. It was the second straight night that Avon rallied for a win. Post 201 had three runs in the top of the seventh on Tuesday night to beat Terryville, 5-3.
“We didn’t play very well,” Avon coach Brian Doyle said. “But we dug deep and found a way. It’s a fun team to coach.”
Avon (9-3, 7-3 Zone 1) looked listless through the first three innings with just one hit as Simsbury took a 3-0 lead. But visiting Post 84 couldn’t extend its lead despite numerous opportunities. Simsbury (3-6, 3-6) stranded 12 runners on base and left the bases loaded twice. “We have to break it open when we get the chance,” Simsbury coach Tom Vincent, Jr., said. “We need that timely hit.”
Avon scored its first run in the fourth when Andrew Livingstone singled to left field, moved to third on T.J. Stolzenberg’s double and scored on a fielder’s choice from Sean Lanahan. Post 201 cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth. Livingstone led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a walk, took third on an infield hit by Lanahan and scored on a bases-loaded walk to Kevin Deming.
But Simsbury escaped further damage when catcher Connor Doyle popped up a bunt attempt and Stolzenberg was thrown out at home on an attempted suicide squeeze.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tyler Papa drew a walk from Simsbury reliever Tom Bourdon. He moved to second when Brendan Telfer hustled down the line to beat out his attempted sacrifice bunt for a single. Both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt from Tyler Grouten.
Papa scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Jason Moore to Bourdon. But the throw home was bobbled by Simsbury catcher Matt Dalhmore and Papa tied the game at 3-3. Moore moved to second on the throw home.
Livingstone came to the plate and tried to bunt and missed. Telfer tried to score from third on a suicide squeeze and was tagged out. But when Moore tried to scamper to third, Dalhmore throw sailed into the outfield and Moore scampered home with the winning run.
“Tonight, we did it by hanging around,” Doyle said. Pitcher David Lavoie had an off night hitting four Simsbury batters in 2 2/3 innings. But he didn’t allow a run and struck out J.R. Phillips looking in the fifth with runners on second and third base.
Against Terryville, Avon trailed by a run entering the seventh inning. But Deming led off with a pinch hit double and Liam O’Connor followed beat out a bunt to put runners on first and third base. Livingstone ripped an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. Sean Lanahan and Stolzenberg each had RBI sacrifice flies. Reliever Chris Frask struck out four in two innings to ice the win.
The win was Avon’s first win over Simsbury since 1997. Avon didn’t field a Legion squad from 2001-08.