Legion baseball: Pitching dominating early slate of games

Four of Shelton Post 16’s first five American Legion Zone 5 games were one-run nail-biters, with the other a two-run contest.

After a 4-3 setback to Waterbury in the June 10 season opener, coach Tom Murphy’s club responded with a 3-2 victory over visiting Bethel on June 12 and a 1-0 edging of Naugatuck the next day.

After a 3-1 loss to defending zone champion Oakville on Saturday, Shelton was out-slugged 12-11 by Washington on Sunday.

Shelton carried a 2-3 record into Monday’s matchup with Danbury.

Against Bethel, Shelton pitcher David Wells started and went five solid innings allowing two runs on four hits and striking out eight batters. One of his strikeouts was with the bases loaded to end the fifth with Shelton clinging to its 3-2 lead.

John Bucci tossed two perfect frames, with a strikeout, to end it.

Wells is quarterback on the Springfield College football team, and also plays middle infield for the baseball team.

“David is not a pitcher by trade, but he always comes back and puts in a quality effort,” Murphy said. “Bucci’s an old school lefthander. He comes in and mixes it up. Just an awesome job. He keeps the ball low.”

Shelton scored all three of its runs in the fourth.

Will Ciccone started the inning with a walk. Terrance O’Sullivan, Colin Mengold and Hudson Meyer all had key hits in the inning.

“Runs were a little bit tough to come by but we were able to make it work,” Murphy said.

Another great two-pitcher effort led Shelton to a 1-0 win at Naugatuck.

Garrett and Tyler Cafaro combined for a no-hitter, with Garrett Cafaro working five innings as a starter.

In the top of the seventh, a Ciccone single and two-base error scored Meyer all the way from first base.

Shelton flashed the leather with strong defensive plays in the seventh.

First baseman Shaun Hillis leaped high to snare a line drive, to save a sure double down right field line for the first out.

Ciccone at shortstop made a circus play up the middle, snaring a hard ground ball before spinning and getting the runner at first.

Rob Ciccone, in left, spun around several times to corral a deep fly ball to seal things.

The Oakville game was a pitcher’s duel throughout.

Shelton scored an unearned run in the third inning.

Wells reached on fielder’s choice and stole second.

He scored following a wild pitch and error.

Shelton took a 1-0 going into the top of sixth.

Ricky Torres, had five strikeouts and allowed four hits and four walks to keep Shelton in the lead until Oakville broke up the shutout with a pair of hits, a walk and a couple of bad-hop errors to score three.

Bucci pitched a scoreless frame.

“Bottom line, pitching was good enough to win,” Murphy said. “Bats need to get going. We only mustered one hit. We left it on a positive that we could play with Oakville.”

The 12-11 loss to Washington was a see-saw battle that took almost three hours in hot conditions.

Trailing 5-2 in the top of the fifth, Shelton’s bats came alive with nine runs for an 11-5 lead.

Wells led the overall attack with four hits.

Tyler Cafaro, in relief of starter Will Ciccone, held Washington scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings.

In the sixth, Washington scored four times due to two walks, a couple of Shelton errors, and some timely hitting.

Washington rallied again in the seventh to score three runs for the win.

“It was a very disappointing loss because we had the game won,” Murphy said. “It was the first game our pitching struggled a bit. However, the positive take away was that the bats came alive.

“It’s a long season, we are still in it. We look forward to our upcoming games as our bats are coming around.”

Murphy has high hopes following the additions of Ansonia and Derby players to an already strong core of Shelton team members.

“We were fortunate enough to get some really great kids to play with us,” Murphy said. “This is a great group of kids.”