Connecticut’s representative in the upcoming Northeast Regional American Legion baseball tournament in Shrewsbury, Mass., won’t be the state champion but the winner of an upcoming qualifying tournament.
Ten teams from around the state will qualify for a Northeast Regional qualifying tournament that begins on Saturday, July 24. The top two teams in each of the state’s five zones on Thursday, July 22, will get a bid to the qualifying tournament that will conclude on July 30 or 31 at Muzzy Field in Bristol.
For the other American Legion teams not competing in the Northeast qualifying tournament, the season will continue through August 1. As soon as a team is eliminated from the Northeast qualifying tournament, they can resume their season in Connecticut and are eligible to play in the state tournament.
Connecticut’s 32-team state tournament, a single-elimination event, begins on August 3. The Northeast Regional also begins August 3 with the winner advancing to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.
The state American Legion baseball committee decided on this course of action to give teams more of an opportunity to play baseball this year.
In a normal season, the American Legion regular season needs to be completed by July 16 to give the state enough time to hold a state tournament and determine the state representative. This year, Connecticut has until July 31 to certify a representative to the Northeast tournament, according to David Greenleaf, the state director of American Legion baseball.
“When we (determined our) schedule during the winter, we were expecting CIAC to have the spring football season and that the (CIAC) baseball tournament would run later into June,” Greenleaf said due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That would have compressed any potential American Legion baseball schedule.
“So, we extended the regular season, put the state tournament in the first week of August and added the extra (Northeast Regional qualifying) tournament because we need to certify a regional entry by July 31,” Greenleaf said. “By the time we realized we would have a full (American Legion) season, it was too late to change.”
“It is a one-time only COVID experiment that we probably won’t continue, but we will evaluate after the season,” he said.
In Zone 1, Meriden is good shape to grab one of the two berths from the zone. Post 45 leads Zone 1 with an 11-4 record with two games left before the July 22 deadline to qualify for the Northeast qualifying tournament. Bristol is second at 9-4 with two games left with West Hartford third at 9-5 with two games remaining.
Avon is 7-5 with two games remaining. Avon needs to win Tuesday night against Naugatuck and Wednesday night against Meriden and hope that Bristol and West Hartford lose both of their remaining games to grab the second Zone 1 berth.
Avon tried to play Saturday against Simsbury and Sunday against Naugatuck. Both games at Buckingham were washed out by rain — the fourth postponement due to at wet weather in the last nine days.
2021 Connecticut Northeast Regional qualifier
At higher seeds
Saturday, July 24
No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed, loser eliminated.
No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed, loser eliminated
Monday, July 26
Game 1: No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed
Game 2: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed
Game 3: No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed
Game 4: No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed
Tuesday, July 27
Game 5: Loser game 1 vs. loser game 2, loser eliminated
Game 6: Loser game 3 vs. loser game 4, loser eliminated
Game 7: winner game 1 vs. winner game 2
Game 8: Winner game 3 vs. winner game 4
Wednesday, July 28
Game 9: Winner game 5 vs. winner game 6, loser eliminated
Game 10: Winner game 6 vs. loser game 7, loser eliminated
Game 11: Winner game 7 vs. winner game 8
Thursday, July 29
At Muzzy Field, Bristol
Game 12: Winner game 9 vs. winner game 10 or winner game 9*
Game 13: Winner game 11 vs. winner game 9 or winner game 10*
*Game 12 and 13 will not match previous opponents unless necessary
Friday, July 30
At Muzzy Field, Bristol
Game 14: Winner game 12 vs. winner game 13
Game 15: If necessary, winner game 11 vs. winner game 14