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American Legion baseball realigns for 2019, going from eight zones to six

Tri-County’s Brendan Wood (14) slides at home plate in a American Legion state tournament game in Avon last July. The tag from Avon catcher Jeremy Zarwanski was late in Tri-County’s 4-3 victory.

AVON, June 1 – The 2019 American Legion baseball season kicks off next Sunday with Zone 1 games for three-time defending Zone champion Avon and Simsbury. Both teams will be playing non-zone exhibitions this week to prepare for the season.

The American Legion state baseball committee made some changes in the off season, reducing the number of zones from eight to six. Four of the six zones have 10 teams while two zones, Zone 1 and 6, will have nine teams.

“We reduced (the number of) zones because we have fewer teams and we wanted to try and insure that all of the zones had equal schedule,” state committee member David Greenleaf of Bristol said. “The original goal was to have six zones of 10 teams playing a 22-game schedule.”

A year ago, there were eight zones with Zone 4 playing with 11 teams, Zone 5 with 10 teams and three zones with nine teams each (2, 5, 7). Zone 3 and Zone 8 each had eight teams while Zone 1 had just seven teams.

Some teams merged together such as Manchester and East Hartford and Windsor Locks and Windsor. Other programs have shut down such as Zone 2 champion Stratford, New London, New Britain, Plainville and Darien.

“We’ve lost a few more teams so our new zones are already unbalanced,” Greenleaf said.

Avon and Simsbury remain in the new Zone 1 along with Winsted, Bristol and defending state champion Southington. Berlin, Hartford, Newington and West Hartford come over from Zone 7. Torrington and Wolcott have moved to Zone 5.

With 10 teams, each zone is split up into two divisions. Teams play the four opponents in their division three times and play the five opponents in the opposite division twice. Each division champion qualifies for the state tournament along with the next three teams in the zone with the best record within the zone.

Each zone sends five teams to the state tournament that begins on July 20 meaning that 50 teams will get a chance to play for a state championship.

Avon won their third straight Zone 1 championship last July.

In Zone 1, Avon, Bristol, Simsbury and Winsted are in the Northern Division. Plainville would have been the fifth team in the Northern Division but the program closed down. Zone 1’s Southern Division includes Berlin, Hartford, Newington, Southington and West Hartford.

Avon still gets a chance to play Torrington on Friday night at Fuessenich Park as one of their three non-zone games as they prepare for the Zone 1 campaign. Post 201 plays at Tri-County on Tuesday night.

Avon dropped a 9-0 decision to Ellington on Sunday at Buckingham Field as three Ellington pitchers combined to limit Post 201 to just two hits and strike out eight. Max Raha and Tyler Nyberg had singles for Avon (0-1, 0-0 Zone 1).

For Ellington, which finished second to Southington in last year’s state tournament, Logan Macaluso was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI while Adam Muzsi was 2-for-4 with one RBI.

Ellington 9, Avon 0
At Avon
Ellington (1-0)              000  126  0 – 9-7-0
Avon (0-1)                     000  000  0 — 0-2-6
Caleb Spielman, Nicholas Massaro (4), Kevin Smith (7) and unknown; Jake Coppen, Ben Angus (3), Max Raha (5), Billy Horrigan (6), Mikes Borenstein (6) and unknown; WP: Spielman (1-0); LP: Angus (0-1); 2B: Logan Macaluso (Ell)

First baseman Jeremy Zarwanski takes the throw as Torrington’s Coleby Bunnell dives back to the bag in a Zone 1 game last June.

2019 Zone alignment

State tournament eligibility: Five teams from the each zone quality for the playoffs – two division winners and next three best records.

Zone 1 (9 teans)
Northern Division
Avon, Bristol, Simsbury, Winsted
Southern Division
Berlin, Hartford, Newington, Southington, West Hartford
2018 Zone 1 standings: Avon 16-2, Bristol 13-5, Simsbury 11-7, Winsted 11-7, Wolcott 5-13, Plainville 4-14, Torrington 3-15
Notable: Berlin, Hartford, Newington and West Hartford move from Zone 7. Torrington and Wolcott move to Zone 5.

Zone 2 (10)
Eastern Division
Branford, Cheshire, Madison, Meriden, Wallingford
Western Division
Hamden, New Haven, North Haven, Orange, East Haven
2018 Zone 2 standings:  Stratford 17-6, Orange 15-7, North Haven 14-9, East Haven 13-10, Hamden 13-10, New Haven 12-11, Branford 10-12, West Haven 5-17, Milford 3-20
Notable: Zone 2 champion Stratford isn’t fielding a team this summer. Milford moves to Zone 5. Cheshire, Meriden, Wallingford and Madison move from Zone 3. Cheshire won Zone 3 a year ago.

Zone 3 (10)
Northern Division
Ellington, Enfield, South Windsor, Northeast-Tolland, Windsor Locks/Windsor (NCL)
Southern Division
East Hartford/Manchester (EHM), Glastonbury, Middletown, RCP (Rocky Hill/Cromwell/Portland), Tri-County (Andover, Colchester, East Haddam, Hebron, East Hampton, Lebanon, Marlborough)
2018 Zone 3 standings: Cheshire 23-5, Meriden 23-5, Middletown 22-6, Guilford 18-10, Madison 13-15, Wallingford 8-20, East Haddam 4-24, Prospect/Beacon Falls 1-27
Notable: Cheshire, Meriden, Wallingford and Madison are now in Zone 2.  Zone champion Tolland, now called Northeast, South Windsor, Enfield are joining Zone 3 from Zone 8. East Hartford and Manchester are teaming up to field one team. RCP (Rocky Hill/Cromwell/Portland) comes in from Zone 7 where they were zone champions. Tri-County is also in from Zone 7.

Zone 4 (10)
Northwest Division
Greenwich, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport
Southeast Division
Bridgeport, Fairfield, Stratford, Trumbull, Wilton
2018 Zone 4 standings: Greenwich 23-2, Trumbull 22-4, Stamford 20-5, Norwalk 14-12, Fairfield 14-13, Wilton 12-13, Westport 11-15, Darien 8-19, Bridgeport 5-22, Ridgefield 1-25
Notable: The only change is that Darien is no longer fielding a team but the rest of Zone 4 remains as it was a year ago.

Zone 5 (10)
Northern Division
Oakville, Torrington, Washington, Waterbury, Wolcott
Southern Division
Bethel, Danbury, Milford, Naugatuck, Shelton
2018 Zone 5 standings: Oakville 22-1, Monroe 17-5, Bethel 14-9, Oxford 11-12, Shelton 11-12, Ansonia 8-14, Naugatuck 8-15, Waterbury 7-17, Danbury 5-17
Notable: Torrington and Wolcott join from Zone 1. Monroe and Oxford are not fielding teams but Washington is fielding a new team this summer.

Zone 6 (9)
Northern Division
Danielson, Moosup, Tri-Town, Willimantic
Southern Division
Jewett City, Ledyard/Pawcatuck, Niantic, Norwich, Waterford
2018 Zone 6 standings: Willimantic 21-4, Waterford 21-5, Niantic 20-6, New London 19-7, Moosup 9-15, Danielson 9-16, Tri-Town 8-17, Jewett City 7-17, Ledyard/Pawcatuck 7-19, Norwich 5-20
Notable: With the loss of New London, Zone 6 is down to nine teams.

2018 Zone 7 standings: RCP (Rocky Hill/Cromwell/Portland) 22-2, West Hartford 16-8, Berlin 15-8, New Britain 15-9, Tri-County 15-9, Glastonbury 11-12, Hartford 4-20, Newington 3-19, Plainville 2-20

2018 Zone 8 standings: Tolland 16-5, South Windsor 15-6, Enfield 12-6-1, Windsor Locks 12-8, Ellington 8-13, East Hartford 7-14, Windsor 5-13-1, Manchester 5-15

2019 Avon American Legion baseball
Sunday, June 2:             Ellington 9, Avon 0*
Tuesday, June 4:           at Tri County (Willimantic)*, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, June 7:               at Torrington*, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 9:             NEWINGTON, 1 p.m.
Monday, June 10:          at Newington, 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday, June 12:    at Simsbury, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 13:        SIMSBURY, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 15:         HARTFORD (2), 1 p.m.
Thursday, June 20:        at Simsbury, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 23:           at Berlin, 1 p.m.
Monday, June 24:          BERLIN, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30:           at West Hartford (Hall), 1 p.m.
Monday, July 1:             WEST HARTFORD, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 6:            at Nashua, N.H. (Bishop Guerin HS), 1 p.m.
Monday, July 8:             at Southington (2), 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 10:     at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 11:         WINSTED, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, July 12:              at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 14:            BRISTOL, 5 p.m.
Monday, July 15:           at Bristol (Muzzy Field), 7:45 p.m.
Tuesday, July 16:          BRISTOL, 5:30 p.m.
Regular season ends Thursday, July 18
*Non-league games

2019 Simsbury American Legion baseball
Sunday, June 2:             WINDSOR LOCKS/WINDSOR*
Wednesday, June 5:      SOUTH WINDSOR*, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 6:          at East Hartford/Manchester*, 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 9:             BERLIN (2), 11 a.m.
Tuesday, June 11:         at Berlin, 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday, June 12     AVON, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 13         at Avon, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 16            at Southington, 1 p.m.
Monday, June 17           SOUTHINGTON, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 19     BRISTOL, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 20         AVON, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 23            NEWINGTON (2), 4 p.m.
Wednesday, June 26     at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 27         WINSTED, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, June 28              at Winsted, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30            HARTFORD, 5 p.m.
Monday, July 1              at Hartford, 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 3        at West Hartford, 5:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 7               WEST HARTFORD, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, July 10      at Bristol, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, July 12               BRISTOL, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 14             at Southington, 11 a.m.
Regular season ends Thursday, July 18
*Non-league games

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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