By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck got out to a fast start in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association.
Naugatuck finished the first week of play 2-1.
Naugatuck head coach Mark Nofri is excited about the team’s potential, especially in the pitching department, and he’s counting on the hitting to pick up as the season goes.
“We certainly have done a great job on the mound, especially with the kids losing the spring season and having just seven practices, they have really done well,” Nofri said.
“We are getting our bats on the ball but we are just not finding that timely hit,” he added. “In the opener against Oakville we left 11 runners on base. A timely hit here and there would have broke it open, but it will come.”
Despite stranding 11 base runners, Naugatuck beat Oakville, 2-0, in the season-opener June 30 at Rotary Field.
Derrick Jagello pitched six shutout innings, scattering three hits and striking out eight.
Mark Nofri went 2-for-3 at the plate. Austin Verab, Aaron Torres and Nate Deptula hit singles, and Nick Bruno had a double. Jon Chatfield and Bruno scored for Naugy.
“Coach Nofri has done a great job getting the pitchers ready,” Jagello said. “He had us all on pitch counts, but we all got work every practice. I felt when the season started I was ready to go.”
“It was kind of weird showing up at the first practice with a face mask,” he added. “But all in all, outside of the social distancing, I think it just feels good to be back out there playing.”
The Connecticut Elite Baseball Association is comprised of teams that typically play American Legion baseball. The National American Legion shut down all sponsorships and involvement in baseball for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The association was established as a one-year alternative to play independently from American Legion.
Naugy finished out the first week of the season with a double-header against Winsted July 2 at Naugatuck High School.
In the first game of the twin-bill, Chatfield led off the game with a solo home run as Naugy went on to a 7-1 win. Verab later launched a three-run homer. Jagello and Bruno added two hits each, and Nofri scored two runs.
Deptula took the bat out of the Winsted batters’ hands. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five. Bruno closed out the game on the mound.
The steady pitching continued into the second game of the double-header, but Naugy couldn’t get that timely hit as Winsted won 2-1.
Chatfield allowed three hits and two runs and struck out eight in four innings on the hill. Zack Royka pitched the last three frames, scattering three hits and striking out seven.
Nofri went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a single, and scored Naugy’s only run of the game.
Naugy is scheduled to play Oakville on Sunday at Oxford High School and head to Danbury on Wednesday.