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Simsbury closes in on Zone 1 North title with victory over Avon

Nate Orluk limited Avon to just three hits to lead the Simsbury American Legion baseball team to a 6-1 Zone 1 victory Saturday in Avon. Orluk improves to 5-1 this summer with Post 84.

AVON, July 13 – The Simsbury American Legion baseball team continues to march toward a Zone 1 Northern Division championship. Post 84 scored four quick runs in the first inning and added two more to beat Avon on Saturday at Buckingham Field, 6-1.

It was the fifth straight win for Simsbury and their ninth Zone 1 victory in the last 10 games. Post 84 has three games remaining in the regular season with a pair of games against Southington on Sunday and Monday and the regular season finale on Wednesday against Avon.

Simsbury (18-5, 16-5 Zone 1) needs to win two of their final three games to clinch their first Zone 1 title since 2015. Southington needs one win in their final two games to clinch the Zone 1 Southern Division title. The advantage of winning a zone title is getting home field advantage for the first round of the American Legion state tournament that begins on Saturday, July 20.

Simsbury put themselves into position to win the Zone 1 Northern Division title with a two-game sweep of Bristol (17-7, 15-6 Zone 1) earlier this week.

Canton High hurler Matt Rose threw a complete game in an 11-1, five inning win over Bristol at Muzzy Field on Thursday. Rose (3-0) allowed just four hits and struck out four but his Simsbury Legion teammates ripped 12 hits including five extra base hits.

On Friday night, Simsbury scored four runs in the sixth inning to rally past Bristol with a 5-4 decision at Memorial Field. That gave Simsbury the advantage in the three-game season series with Bristol and the tiebreaker should the two teams finish tied for the Zone 1 Northern Division title.

“We’ve been playing very good baseball,” Simsbury coach Tom Vincent said. “Timely hitting has been the key. We’ve been swinging the bats very well this season.”

Rose got plenty of support on Thursday night. East Granby High graduate Aidan Wilson was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBI in the 11-1 win over Bristol. Simsbury’s Tate Valerio, who played at UMass-Boston in the spring, was 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI while another East Granby player Connor DiAngelo was 2-for-4 with a double. Granby High’s Sam Attianese had a double and two RBI for Post 84.

Simsbury had to erase a four-run deficit on Friday against Bristol. Post 2 took a 4-0 lead in the second inning on Carson Sassu’s RBI single, Noah Palanamuro’s two-run double and Cory Fradette’s single to right field.

Simsbury picked up a run in the bottom of the second inning but trailed by three runs going into the sixth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Kyle DesJardins sped home when Bristol tried to pick a runner off first base to cut the deficit to two runs.

Granby High’s Nate Orluk had a RBI single to cut the deficit to one run before Simsbury’s Blake Chapman ripped a two-out single to give Post 84 the lead.

DiAngelo got two outs before giving up a run to Fradette. Brandyn Garcia came and got the final out to secure the save and put Simsbury in command of the Zone 1 Northern Division race.

Against Avon on Saturday, a two-RBI double from Valerio and RBI singles from Orluk and Chapman gave Simsbury an early 4-0 lead. That was more than enough for Orluk, who allowed just three hits and struck out four to improve to 5-1 this summer.

Six different players had hits for Simsbury with Valerio, Desjardins and DiAngelo each hitting doubles.

Matt Leopold pitched three innings of relief in Saturday’s Zone 1 loss to Simsbury.

Avon (6-17, 6-14) lost for the fifth straight game. Max Raha had two of Avon’s three hits. But Post 201 coach Eric Welles was upbeat.

“We’re young. We’re super young,” he said. “That’s been the theme all year for us. We’re trying to learn how to play at this level. Some days are better than others. We’re trying to eliminate the mistakes.”

Avon’s most recent win was a 5-3 win on Monday night over Southington, which is competing for the Zone 1 Southern Division title with West Hartford and Berlin.

“They don’t stop competing,” Welles said. “Things may not go our way but they don’t stop competing. That’s all I can ask of them.”

Avon closes out the season with three consecutive games with Bristol beginning on Sunday with a game at Buckingham Field at 5 p.m. Game two of the series is Monday at Muzzy Field at 7:30 p.m. with the series final on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. in Avon.

Simsbury hosts Southington on Sunday at Memorial Field beginning at 5:45 p.m. and travels to Southington to face Post 72 on Monday at 6:30 p.m. Simsbury hosts Avon at Memorial Field on Wednesday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

NOTES: The Simsbury American Legion program has players from Simsbury High, Granby High, East Granby High and Canton High on their roster. … Players from Canton include James Mattson, Matt Rose and Jack Rose. … Four Post 84 players – Valerio, Wilson, Orluk and DiAngelo – played in college last spring. Valerio played three games with UMass-Boston, Wilson played 18 games with Southern Maine, Orluk played six games with Williams and DiAngelo played two games with Scranton.

Simsbury 6, Avon 1
At Avon
Simsbury (18-5)                400  000  2  — 6-6-0
Avon (6-17)                        010  000  0  — 1-3-2
Nate Orluk, JW Wilson (7) and Kyle Desjardins; Arjun Grover, Matt Leopold (4) and Emmett Borenstein; WP: Orluk (5-1); LP: Grover (2-2); 2B: Kyle Desjardins (S), Tate Valerio (S), Connor DeAngelo (S)

Simsbury 5, Bristol 4
At Simsbury (Friday)
Bristol (17-7)                     040  000  0  — 4-8-3
Simsbury (17-5)                010  004  x  — 5-6-1
Stephen Warkoski and Carson Sassu; Connor DiAngelo, Brandyn Garcia (7) and Kyle Desjardins; WP: DiAngelo (3-1); LP: Warkoski (4-1); Save: Garcia; 2B: Noah Plantamuro (B), Blake Chapman (S), Brandyn Garcia (S), Sam Attianese (S); 3B: none; HR: none

Simsbury 11, Bristol 1 (5)
At Bristol (Thursday)
Simsbury (16-5)                200  36 – 11-12-1
Bristol (17-6)                      100  00  — 1-4-4
Matt Rose and Kyle Desjardins; Trevor Mays, Macgregor Goulet and Carson Sassu; WP: Rose (3-0); LP: Mays; 2B: Goulet (B), Sam Attianese (S), Connor DiAngelo (S), Tate Valerio (S), Aidan Wilson (S); 3B: Wilson (S); HR: none

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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