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Avon closes on Zone 1 title with a pair of shutout wins over Simsbury

Avon pitcher Connor Harris earned two wins on the mound in about 2 1/2 hours with a doubleheader sweep of Simsbury on Tuesday night.

AVON, July 10 – The Avon American Legion baseball team generally doesn’t roll up big numbers in terms of hitting and runs. But they put pressure on the opposition and eventually get through.

Post 201 swept a pair of Zone 1 contests from rival Simsbury on Tuesday night to move within one victory of winning their third straight Zone 1 championship.

Avon (15-3-1, 14-1 Zone 1) beat Simsbury, 1-0 in 11 innings in the completion of a game suspended on June 13 due to darkness after 10 innings. In the second game, Avon also shutout Simsbury, 8-0, as Avon hurler Connor Harris went the distance, scattering three hits, striking out three and walking three.

Avon can claim a third consecutive Zone 1 championship at Buckingham Field with a win over Wolcott (4-11) on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The last team to win three Zone 1 titles in a row was Bristol (2009-11), which has won three or more consecutive championships seven times.

“The depth of our pitching and our solid defense will put pressure on people,” Avon manager Stephen Harris said. “Simsbury is a good team. We’ve played 25 innings against them and haven’t given up a run (in three games this year).

“What I like about our team is their focus,” Stephen Harris said. “(For them), every inning counts, every at-bat counts. We didn’t stop pressing and we played solid baseball.”

Seven of Avon’s 14 wins have been shutouts

The opener was the conclusion of a game that began on June 13. The two teams played 10 innings of scoreless baseball.

Avon’s Justin Olson got the start and pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and striking out five.

Simsbury had their opportunities. Simsbury had runners on first and third base in the third inning but Post 201 got out of the jam with an inning-ending double play. Simsbury had runners on first and third base in the fifth inning but Olson got Simsbury’s Jack Montgomery to fly out to right field and James Mattson to fly out to left field.

The closest Avon came to scoring was in the ninth inning. Justin Zarwanski singled and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Ryan Ollestad. He moved to third base on a single from Chris Jacobs.

But Avon’s Will Boone hit a ground ball to Simsbury shortstop Nate Orluk, who fired home and threw out Zarwanski.

Avon won the game in the 11th inning. Connor Harris came on relief and didn’t allow a hit, putting down the side in order with just nine pitches. In the bottom of the 11th, Ollestad (3-for-3) doubled with two outs. He scored on Jacob’s single to win the game for Post 201.

Harris (7-1) went the distance in game two to earn his seventh win of the season. He needed just 79 pitches to earn his second win on the mound in less than two hours.

Avon had a balanced attack as they rapped out 10 hits. Zarwanski and Miles Borenstein each had two hits while Dylan Nastri had a double.

Avon took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Zarwanski singled and moved to second base when Ollestad reached on an error. Both scored on a two-run single from Will Boone.

Post 201 added three more runs in the third inning, sparked by a RBI double from Nastri and a RBI single from Narwanski.

Avon 1, Simsbury 0 (11)
At Avon
Simsbury (12-5)     000  000  000  00 – 0-6-1
Avon (14-3-1)         000  000  000  01 – 1-6-1
Nate Langmeier, Luke Benneche (6) and Jon Wilson; Justin Olson, Dylan Nastri (9), Chris Jacobs (10), Connor Harris (11) and Justin Zarwanski; WP: Harris (6-1); LP: Benneche (1-2); 2B: Jake Nichols (S); Ryan Ollestad (A)

Avon 8, Simsbury 0
At Avon
Simsbury (12-6)                      000  000  0 – 0-3-1
Avon (15-3-1)                          023  003  x – 7-10-0
James Mattson, Jonathan Wilson, Tate Valerio and Mason Valerio, Wilson; Connor Harris and Justin Zarwanski; WP: Harris (7-1); LP: Mattson (0-1); 2B: Dylan Nastri (A)

Zone 1 standings Zone Overall
y-Avon 14-1 15-3-1
y-Bristol 9-4 11-4-1
y-Winsted 9-5 9-6
Simsbury 8-6 12-6
Wolcott 4-10 4-10
Plainville 4-11 4-11
Torrington 2-12 2-12
Sunday, July 8
Avon 4, Torrington 0
Plainville 3, Wolcott 0
Simsbury 4, Bristol 3 (10)
Bristol 7, Simsbury 4
Tuesday, July 10
Avon 1, Simsbury 0 (11)
Avon 8, Simsbury 0
Bristol 9, Wolcott 3
Winsted 2, Torrington 0
Wednesday, July 11
Wolcott at Avon, 5:30 p.m.
Plainville at Simsbury, 5:30 p.m.
Bristol at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12
Avon at Bristol, 5:30 p.m.
Simsbury at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Plainville at Torrington, 7 p.m.
y-clinched state tournament berth

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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