American Legion Notebook: Many Teams Playing Well in Zones 8 and 7

The American Legion baseball seasons just finished their first months of play. Many of the local teams are doing well, with a handful dominating their zone competition.

Senior Legion Baseball (19U) 

Tolland is first in Zone 8 with a record of 14-3, with South Windsor a game behind at 13-4. Tolland has gone 8-2 in its past 10 games, and has allowed just 30 runs the entire season.

“We have four starters that have truly held our opponents in check in Nick Paasch, Sean Kelly, Jacob Simon and Matt Curtis,” Tolland head coach Steve Paasch said.

Paasch also said that the team is strong on defense, signaling out shortstop Luke Broadhurst and Alex Hoss and his son in the outfield for their play.

Paasch stated that Tolland’s offense had under performed based on its talent and has struggled to obtain big hits at times.

Tolland has a handful of games remaining before the end of the 19U season on the 15th and the start of its Tournament the next day. The team is hoping to continually improve its confidence on the field and off.

“If the players start to trust their skills, the sky is the limit. Confidence will be the key factor to allow the team to hold on and make a decent run this year,” Paasch said.

South Windsor (13-4) won eight consecutive games before losing its past two. Head coach Craig Zimmerman praised his team’s work ethic and competitiveness.

“We are blessed to have a have a team full of hard working players who sincerely care more about the name on the front of the uniform, not the one on the back,” Zimmerman said. “They get to the field about 2 hours before every game, and sometimes even take extra swings after our games.”

South Windsor has been averaging over five runs per game while allowing just over three. Their deep pitching staff has been led by Joe Ceppetelli, who is 3-0 and has an earned run average of 1.12, Adam Bettigole, who has the same record and an ERA of 1.24, and Brendan Mabey, who possess 5 saves and an ERA of 0.74. At the plate, South Windsor has been led by Ben Custer, who has a .420 batting average and has scored 15 runs and stolen 8 bases, and Tommy Sand, who is hitting .317 and leads the team in runs batted in with 15.

Zimmerman said South Windsor must become more healthy and improve its base running, and that the team will have a chance to challenge itself and improve by playing its final five Zone 8 regular season games against high quality opponents.

Enfield is third in Zone 8 with a record of 10-8, 4.5 games behind Tolland. It is averaging over four runs per game and allowing just over three. Enfield has been led both at the plate and at the mound by Thomas Owens. He is hitting .360 and has 16 RBI to go along with 5 steals. On the mound Owens has been overpowering, recording a 0.41 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 innings. Thomas Neal has a .513 on base percentage and 9 RBI, and Wyatt Hulbert is 2-1 in 4 starts with an ERA of 1.12.

Enfield has four remaining regular season games.

Manchester is fourth in the Zone with a record of 8-7. It has both scored and allowed just over three runs a game. Manchester has four regular season games remaining.

Sixth-place Ellington is 7-10-1 and 10  games behind Tolland. Ellington has experienced a handful of frustrating late inning losses. According to head coach Ron Roberts, the team’s strengths have been at the plate, where it is averaging nearly four runs per game, and on defense.

Chase Kidd has been not only Ellington’s best hitter but arguably in Zone 8, where he is second in batting average at .432 and first in slugging percentage at .702 as of the 7th. Dave Roberts is hitting .319 and has also been excellent on the mound, going 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24 innings. Jay Skorulski has been excellent despite going 1-3, as he has an 0.67 ERA and three complete games and has walked just two batters all season.

Roberts is still very confident in his squad and believes Ellington can go on a late season run and qualify for the playoffs.

“We feel we can beat any team in this league. We are still hungry for a playoff spot,” he said. “I could easily see us winning four of the five remaining games based on our opponents and pitching matchups.”

Rockville is seventh in the Zone with a record of 3-13-1, a half game ahead of East Hartford. The team has played better in the last 10 games, recording all of its wins. Rockville has been led by Timothy Baczanksi, who has a .324 BA and 1.77 ERA in four appearances. Riley Aafedt had a 1.58 ERA and one win as well as 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Rockville has four games remaining.

Zone 7 

Glastonbury is third in the Zone with a 12-5 record, one game behind RCP and a half behind West Hartford. It has cooled off after a nine game winning streak, losing three of its past four. Glastonbury’s pitching staff has been outstanding, allowing just 42 runs. Its offense has averaged more than four runs per game.

Glastonbury has seven games remaining, with multiple matchup against New Britain, Berlin and Newington.

Tri-County, which features players from Hebron, Marlborough and Andover, is sixth in Zone 7 with a record of 9-9, 4.5 behind RCP. It has recently struggled, going 3-7 in the last 10 games. Tri-County has eight games remaining.

Junior Legion Baseball (17U)

Zone 8

South Windsor leads Zone 8 with a record of 13-4, a half game ahead of Windsor Locks, and has won three consecutive contests. Its pitchers have been a nightmare for batters to face, allowing exactly two runs per game. Meanwhile, the offense is averaging slightly over three runs. South Windsor has three games remaining before the end of the 17U regular season on the 16th, including a crucial matchup with Windsor Locks on the 9th. The State Tournament begins on the 18th.  

Ellington is third in the Zone with a record of 12-7 and has been playing well, going 7-3 in the last 10 games. It is two games behind South Windsor.

Ellington’s offense has averaged just over four runs per game and allowed just under four. Brady Coleman and Ian Pyne have been the linchpins on both offense and on the mound. Coleman has a BA of .475 and is slugging .571, and Pyne possesses a BA of  .424 and OBP of .523. Coleman has gone 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA and struck out 27 batters in 26 innings, and Pyne is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA.       

Ellington has three regular season games remaining.

Tolland is fourth in the Zone and three games behind South Windsor at 11-8. It started the season off on fire with a 9-1 record, but has played inconsistently sense. However, Tolland got two key shutout wins last week against Enfield and South Windsor, with Kienan Giller throwing a complete game in the second triumph.

“This year’s team is very gritty and won a lot of close games early in the season,” head coach Kris Popovitch said. “Our most recent challenge is we haven’t had the big hit in the last few games. We struggled at the plate with men in scoring position. ”

At the plate, Tolland is averaging roughly three runs per game. It has been led by the trio of Jake Rollins, Matt Byam and Josh Popovitch, who are hitting .378, .370 and .341 respectively. Popovitch said that Rollins and Byam have both played well defensively in the outfield and Byam has been a strong pitcher and team leader.

Popovitch feels the team’s confidence has returned after its two wins, and that it can build on it by hitting more efficiently.

“We’re going to have to start making very good decisions at the plate swinging at our pitch. We have to take control of our bats rather than allowing the picture to dictate how we’re going to do.”

Tolland has two regular season games remaining.

Manchester is fifth in Zone 8 with a record of 8-9, five games behind South Windsor. It has not won a non-forfeited game since June 27th, when it defeated Tolland 5-2.  Manchester is scoring roughly three runs per game while allowing just under four.

Corey Roya has anchored the rotation by going 3-1 with an 0.94 ERA, while Austin Martin also has a microscopic ERA of 1.11.

Manchester has four regular season games remaining.

Enfield has mostly struggled, going 7-10. It is in sixth place in the Zone and ahead of only Rockville, which has forfeited all of its games. Enfield has scored roughly 3.5 runs per game and allowed 4.3.

Elisha Swanson Asiam has been the team’s top player, hitting .303 with a .489 OBP and going 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in four starts. Matt Folk has recorded a .360 OBP and leads Enfield in RBI with 11.

Enfield has three remaining regular season games.

 

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