Legion baseball: Battery mates decide pace of Shelton Valley game

SHELTON — Announcing the batteries for respective teams was commonplace in yesteryear.

The home plate umpire would face the bleachers and let them know who was pitching and catching.

Nowadays, you can’t tell the lineup unless you have privy to the lineup.

That leaves it up to the battery mates to get your attention.

Shelton Valley pitcher Jake Tamburrino and catcher Jay Ostrowski dueled with Bethel Bryan VanderHave and Cole Demirjian in a Zone 5 matchup before Shelton Valley's Garrett Cafaro singled home the only run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday.

Bethel was denied breaking the scoreless deadlock by Ostrowski in a brain-twisting top of the eighth.

Tyler Davis led off with a walk and Sam Smith bunted him into scoring position. Josh Taylor was intentionally walked to bring Kyle Platt to the plate.

Platt put down a great bunt. Ostrowski had to decide whether to go for the out at first, a dubious shot, or let the play develop. Davis took a wide turn round third and when Ostrowski drew his arm back to throw, took two more steps toward the plate.

Ostrowski spun around, caught him in no man's land, and made the tag. A grounder to the right side ended the threat.

"That was a great baseball play," Shelton Valley head coach Ron Luneau said. "Great on their part for putting on the pressure, and great by Jay. Not every catcher would think it through and make the play he made."

Ostrowski not only called the shutout, he helped hold Bethel at bay with two superior defensive plays in the seventh.

"I need the pitchers to give me some help," said Ostrowski, who threw out the go-ahead run attempting to steal in the top of the seventh. "They are a good running team. I'm confident in my ability and I knew it was my job to slow them down when I could."

Ostrowski, who will play at Curry College, also made a fine catch of a foul pop by the backstop for the second out in the inning. "It was so much the footing (the ground slopes), but the sun," he said of the foul ball, "I was happy the ball stayed in my glove."

Cafaro's decisive single to left field plated Tom Abel, who had walked.

"The last time we played it was the same (kind of game)," said the right-handed Tamburrino, who pitched six innings of two hit, seven strikeout ball. "They got to me early (three hits in the first two innings) because my off speed stuff wasn't there. I was able to hit my spots as the game went on."

Bethel (8-6) had its opportunities.

Davis and Taylor had singles in the first — the problem here was that between the base hits Abel turned a grounder to short into a double play turned by Jake Cook.

Shawn Sato singled to open the Bethel second, but Tamburrino struck out the next three batters.

Davis had an infield hit and stole a base in the third. Tamburrino left him stranded with a fly ball out, a pop fly and by knocking down Platt's liner to the box and getting the out at first.

Tamburrino retired Bethel in order the next two frames.

"In college I was a reliever," said Tamburrino, a rising sophomore at Post University. "Playing Legion allows me to start, which is what I hope to do at Post. Summer ball is fun. First we want to win, but coach allows us to have fun in the dugout. That keeps us relaxed so we are ready on the field."

Ben Van Tine came on to pitch for Shelton Valley in the seventh.

The lefty, who will be a junior at Shelton High, allowed a one out walk before Ostrowski took Bethel out of the inning with his stellar play.

In the eighth, Bethel challenged again only to have Ostrowski win the battle of wits on the base paths.

VanderHave retired the first nine batters he faced, before Abel singled to open the fourth. Demirjian threw him out attempting to steal.

Shelton Valley's second base runner came in the fifth when Ostrowski drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. After a force out, VanderHave got the last out on a tapper back to the mound.

The Shelton Valley chances continued to grow.

In the sixth, Nate Collazzo singled over the bag at second base and went to second on an errant throw to first. VanderHave set down the next three batters, the first on a strikeout.

In the seventh, Shelton Valley loaded the bases but came up empty.

Aaron Kirby doubled to the fence in center field to begin the rally. Garrett Cafaro's bunt found a home in front of the plate for a single. VanderHave notched another strikeout and then intentionally walked Luke Kirby to set up a play at any base.

Alex Kozlowski got the ball to the outfield, where Smith made the catch in the gap and a strong throw to the plate to keep the potential winning run at third.

Demirjian then stole an at bat away from Collazzo with an outstanding sliding catch of his foul pop to end the home seventh.

Extra innings were in order.

"The best thing is the parity in Zone 5," Bethel head coach Josh Hull said. "All the games are a dogfight. We combine players from Bethel and Newtown. They are natural rivals. In the summer we come together to play. The chemistry went from good to begin the season to great."

Luneau was proud of his team.

"This was a huge win for us," he said. "We got everyone involved (15 players) and that's what I want to do. This is a team and we need something different every day from someone. They are committed to the team, and I'm committed to them. They never gave up. We missed some chances, but they kept working."

SHELTON VALLEY 1, BETHEL 0 (8 innings)

Bethel             000 000 00 -- 0 4 2

Shelton Valley 000 000 01 -- 1 5 0

Batteries: Bethel - Bryan VanderHave (LP)  and Cole Demirjian; Shelton Valley - Jake Tamburrino, Ben Van Tine (WP 7) and Jay Ostrowski

Records: Bethel 8-6; Shelton 6-5