The Shelton Post 16 American Legion team (11-7) split a doubleheader with New Haven (9-9) on Saturday afternoon at Shelton High.
In a rather unusual outcome, as teams tend to keep fairly constant momentum in a doubleheader, Post 16 won the first game by a score of 7-0 and dropped the latter contest 7-2.
“This was our first doubleheader all year, so it was a bit of an adjustment,” Shelton manager Steve Boles said. “The first game was great; Mike (Rotondo) threw a great game, we had good defense, our offense came alive with some key hits at the right time, and that’s what New Haven did to us in the second game.”
Rotondo, a St. Joseph High rising senior, threw a stellar game, no-hitting New Haven and striking out eight.
He allowed only two base runners over his seven innings; walking the first batter he faced and yielding another walk in the sixth.
Post 16 set the tone for the game with a run in the bottom of the first, as Rotondo worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a double by New England College rising sophomore Vinny Backert.
The hit put two runners in scoring position for C.J. Rizzo, who drove in Rotondo with a grounder to second base.
Post 16 loaded the bases with a trio of walks in the bottom of the second, but didn’t add any more runs until the following frame.
Rizzo started things off by pounding a one-out double, his first of three hits , and Chris Kanios worked the count full before drawing a walk to put two runners on for Jordan Urbani.
Urbani did his job with a bunt to move the runners up, and rising Shelton senior Marc Zoppi connected for a solid single to right-center field, scoring both runners and extending Shelton’s lead to 3-0.
John Zoppi followed up with a single to left to put runners on the corners, and Shelton grad Pat Murphy singled in Marc Zoppi to take the score to 4-0.
Shelton grad and University of Delaware rising sophomore Tyler Tice drew a walk to load the bases, and Rotondo came through with a single to center field on a 1-0 count to drive in another two runs and widen the gap to 6-0.
Rotondo continued his spectacular game on the mound, and Shelton added a final run in the bottom of the fourth.
Rizzo led off with a double and advanced to third on a passed ball.
He came around to score with two outs when Marc Zoppi’s grounder rolled through the legs of New Haven’s first baseman.
After such a strong start, Post 16 inexplicably fell apart in the latter match.
Backert took the mound, entering the game with a record of 4-0, but struggled against a New Haven offense that found its footing after the opening game.
Lead-off hitter Joshua Colon singled and was awarded second base on a balk. He moved to third on a bunt by Luis Galarza, who reached first ahead of the throw, and then scored on a double steal when the throw went to second base.
The score started the game on a poor note for Shelton, and Post 16 never recovered.
Shelton loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with two outs on an error and two walks but could not score, and New Haven added three runs on four singles in the following half inning.
Post 16 similarly loaded the bases on three walks in the bottom of the fourth, this time managing to eke out a run under the watchful eye of Kanios, who worked the count full and then took ball four to force in a run.
It was all Post 16 could muster with two outs, however, and the inning ended with three runners on base and Shelton trailing, 4-1.
New Haven’s Jose Negron, Ed Luther, and Erik Colon connected for three strategically placed hits to add another run in the top of the fifth, but it was two innings later that New Haven sealed the deal.
The same trio of hitters loaded the bases on three consecutive singles, setting the stage for Joshua Colon one out later.
The rising Career Magnet junior pounded a double to clear the bases and add three runs to New Haven’s score, giving it a 7-1 lead.
Shelton didn’t go quietly, scoring a lone run in the bottom of the inning on singles by Rizzo and Hudson Boles and a double by Backert.
Shelton won the rubber match of the three-game series behind the pitching of Hudson Boles, with a 9-0 victory on Sunday.
Post 16 will host Orange Post 127 on Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m.