CANTON, July 11 – The Simsbury Little League baseball All-Star team scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the eighth inning to hand undefeated Avon their first loss of the summer and force a deciding game in the District 6 Major League Division tournament at Van Gemeren Memorial Field Wednesday night.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Simsbury’s Mitchell Wallman grounded back to Avon pitcher Luke Coppen, who threw home for the second out of the inning.
But when the Avon catcher tried for a double play by throwing the ball to first base to get Wallman, the ball sailed over the first baseman’s head and into right field and Simsbury’s Brendan Lynch scored from second base with the winning run in a 3-2 victory.
Since it was Avon’s first loss in the double elimination tournament, the two teams will meet again Thursday night in Canton with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
“They are a team that battles hard,” Simsbury manager Jack Petras said. “They kept their focus and preserved. It was a great to be a part of. I don’t think it gets more exciting than this for everyone.”
Simsbury pitchers Conor Naspo and Tyler Norris combined to allow just three Avon hits. Naspo struck out seven batters in five innings of work. He was also 3-for-4 at the plate with three singles. Norris, a late addition to the team due to an injury, pitched three scoreless innings, didn’t give up a hit and struck out two to earn the victory for Simsbury.
Avon took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Connor Lavore got on base with a two-out single and Jacob Wirth followed with a two-run home run to left field.
Simsbury quickly tied it in the bottom of the first inning on a two-RBI double from catcher T.J. Pearlman.
Avon did have some opportunities to take the lead but couldn’t do it. Avon had runners on first and second base in the third inning but Naspo got a strikeout to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Naspo gave up three walks to load the bases with two outs but he also had three strikeouts in the inning to get out of the jam.
Simsbury had a chance to win the game in regulation. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Lynch led off the inning with a single up the middle. Austin Coiro came in as a pinch runner and moved to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt from Pearlman.
Avon’s Connor Lavore came on in relief and struck out two batters to get out of the jam. Lavore struck out five in 1 2/3 innings of work.
In the bottom of the eighth, Simsbury’s Ty Petras and Lynch led off the inning with back-to-back walks from Lavoie. Coppen came on in relief and picked up one out.
Avon is seeking their third District 6 championship in the last four years. Avon beat Simsbury, 14-2 in the finals in 2016. Simsbury is seeking their first D6 title since 2014.
Lavore had two of Avon’s three hits with Wirth having the third – his two-run home run in the first inning.
Simsbury was led by Naspo, who was 3-for-4. Ryan Donahue, Lynch and Jack Sheldon had singles while Pearlman had a double.
Simsbury 3, Avon 2 (8)
Avon (6-1) 200 000 00 – 2-3-1
Simsbury (7-1) 200 000 01 – 3-7-2
Drew Fitting, Conror Lavore (6), Luke Coppen (8) and Jacob Wirth; Conor Naspo, Tyler Norris (6) and T.J. Pearlman; WP: Norris; LP: Coppen; 2B: Pearlman (S); 3B: none; HR: Wirth (A)
2018 District 6 Major Division Baseball
Avon 5, Granby/East Granby 3
Avon 7, Burlington 4
Avon 5, Torrington 1
Avon 3, Granby/East Granby 2
Burlington 1, Torrington 0
Burlington 7, Granby/East Granby 2
Torrington 11, Burlington 7
Granby/East Granby 10, Torrington 0
Standings: Avon 4-0, Burlington 2-2, Granby/East Granby 1-3, Torrington 1-3
Simsbury 6, Canton 0
Simsbury 7, Tri-Town 2
Simsbury 10, Terryville 0
Simsbury 7, Canton 2
Canton 8, Tri-Town 6
Canton 16, Terryville 0
Terryville 2, Tri-Town 1
Terryville 5, Tri-Town 3
Standings: Simsbury 4-0, Canton 2-2, Terryville 2-2, Tri-Town 0-4
Avon 11, Canton 1
Burlington 6, Simsbury 2
Avon 10, Burlington 4
Simsbury 10, Canton 3, Canton eliminated
Simsbury 7, Burlington 2, Burlington eliminated
Simsbury 3, Avon 2 (8)
Avon vs. Simsbury at Canton