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Strong pitching carries two-time defending champion Avon to second victory

Avon starting pitcher Jake Coppen fields a ground ball in Tuesday night’s 1-0 Zone 1 victory over Torrington at Buckingham Field.

AVON, June 12 – The Avon American Legion baseball team hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball in their first two Zone 1 contests of the season. But first-year coach Stephen Harris isn’t too worried.

Post 201 has some outstanding pitchers on the roster. Avon had just three hits Tuesday night against Torrington but prevailed, 1-0 thanks to outstanding pitching from Jake Coppen and reliever Chris Jacobs. Coppen scattered four hits over five innings and struck out three to earn the win. Jacobs didn’t allow a hit in two innings and fanned three.

“The bats have been awfully silent,” Harris said. “We had to manufacture runs (in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Plainville in eight innings). This lineup is deep. I’m excited to see us begin to hit the ball.”

This is no neophyte squad of baseball players. Most have been part of the Post 201 teams that have won back-to-back Zone 1 championships. They’re looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Zone 1 championships since Bristol (2009-11).

“They have winning in their blood,” Harris said. “They’re used to it. They know what they need to do. The bats will come.”

The pitching staff is led by Avon’s Connor Harris, who was 9-0 with two complete games in last July’s American Legion state tournament, earning All-Tournament honors. Justin Olson (2-2) returns, coming off his freshman season at Trinity College where he made 11 appearances in relief for the Bantams, striking out 19 in 28.1 innings of work.

Dylan Nastri was the top closer at Avon Old Farms this spring while Will Boone and Coppen were starters on the Avon High team this spring. Jacobs pitched for Avon High a year ago and was 6-0 for Post 201 last summer. Coppen won two games last summer for Post 201.

“We have a tremendous amount of pitching,” Stephen Harris said.

They will need it. The American Legion season is always a compact campaign and the state tournament is a grind that quickly eats up innings on the pitching staff.

First baseman Jeremy Zarwanski takes the throw as Torrington’s Coleby Bunnell dives back to the bag.

Veterans Chris Angus (Avon HS), Miles Borenstein (Avon HS), Sam Leopold (Westminister), Ryan Ollestad (Avon HS), Adam Theriault (Avon HS), Will Thramann (Loomis Chaffee) and Kyle Zarwanski (Avon HS) also return.

On Tuesday night, Torrington starting pitcher Casey Navin did a good job against Avon, allowing just three hits and striking out seven. But Post 201 did just enough to come away with the victory.

Olson led off the fourth inning with a quick bunt single in front of the plate and scampered down the line to get on base. He stole second base and moved to third base on an infield ground ball from Jeremy Zarwanski. Olson scored on a RBI single from Adam Theriault, who had two hits for Post 201.

Torrington’s Aaron Banier had a two-out double in the fifth inning but was stranded there when Coppen got C.J. Root to fly out to center field. That would be the P-38s’ final base runner. Jacobs set down the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

It was Avon’s fourth straight win over the P-38s and the 13th win in the last 14 games against Torrington (0-3).

Avon returns to action on Wednesday night when they host Simsbury at Buckingham Field at 5:30 p.m. and then hosts Wolcott on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, Post 201 travels to Muzzy Field to face Bristol at 1 p.m.

Avon 1, Torrington 0
At Avon
Torrington (0-3)                000  000  0  — 0-6-0
Avon (2-0)                           000  100  x  — 1-3-0
Casey Navin and Coleby Bunnell; Jake Coppen, Chris Jacobs (6) and Ryan Ollestad; WP: Coppen (1-0); LP: Navin; 2B: Aaron Banier (T)

American Legion Under 17
Glastonbury 17, Avon 5
AVON, June 12 – Avon’s Brayden Nemarich was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and five RBI but Glastonbury handed Avon their first Zone 1 loss in an Under 17 game, 17-5. Jackson Chard was 3-for-4 for Avon (3-2, 2-1 Zone 1), which had 10 hits. Glastonbury pitcher Alec Hughes went the distance, scattered 10 hits and struck out six to earn the win.


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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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