Legion baseball: Post 16 learning as they go

If there’s any truth to the old saying, “A bad day on the golf course beats a good day at the office,” then for Shelton Post 16 American Legion baseball players, a bad day on the baseball diamond perhaps beats a good day at school.

“I want them to embrace this and have fun. School’s out and there’s nothing better than summer baseball,” Shelton coach Tom Murphy said after his team fell 6-0 to visiting Zone V foe Naugatuck, the team’s sixth straight setback, on Monday.

Shelton fell to 2-7, catching a bad break in the middle of this tough stretch when rain halted its June 18 game against Danbury with Shelton leading 5-3 in the fifth inning.

Gaining experience and competing are a big part of what this is all about.

“Approximately half of these kids haven’t been a varsity starter before,” Murphy said. “It’s a level above what they’re used to playing. This is going to help them next year — absolutely.”

The payoff may come in high school ball next spring, or even the one after that. For now, there are some growing pains.

“Our inexperience is catching up to us,” Murphy said. “We’ve had guys who have been out. That’s hurt us because we’re not very deep.”

Illness and summer jobs result in some players missing games, and pushing other player into positions in which they have little or no experience.

Still, Murphy likes his team’s fight.

One of Shelton’s losses was a two-run decision and three others were one-run nail-biters.

Shelton visited Waterbury Post 1 on Sunday and led 1-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh when Waterbury strung hits together to stun Shelton 2-1. David Wells had allowed just one hit in six shutout innings.

Garrett Cafaro doubled and scored on a Tyler Cafaro double in the second inning.

Shelton had base runners in each of the next five innings, but couldn’t capitalize.

“We had guys who got hits and got into scoring position. We didn’t move runners over and put balls into play when we needed to,” Murphy said.

In Monday’s game with Naugatuck, a team Shelton beat 1-0 behind Garrett and Tyler Cafaro on the hill earlier in the season, Shelton fell behind 1-0 in the first and had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame.

Leadoff batter Will Ciccone walked and Ryan Murphy smacked a one-out double, but Naugatuck escaped on a 1-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Colin Mengold singled in the second and Garrett Cafaro singled in the fourth.

Rob Ciccone singled in the fifth, ahead of Will Ciccone’s single.

Hudson Meyer’s leadoff single in the seventh was erased on a double play.

Naugatuck scored twice in the second, once in the third and added a pair in the sixth when Shelton pulled the infield in and a soft single got over the left side of the infield to drive in a pair.

Shelton made a couple of errors in the early innings, but flashed some leather, turning a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth as shortstop Will Ciccone fielded a grounder and threw to second baseman Mengold, who relayed the ball to Garrett Cafaro at first.

Pitcher John Bucci struck out five batters.

“We just need to be able to put a complete game together,” Murphy said.

Shelton will host Danbury in an abbreviated double-header on Thursday.  The completion of the suspended game will be followed by another.

Post 16 visits Oakville (7-2) at Taft School on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Bethel (6-2) visits Shelton High Sunday at 12 noon with Washington (2-6) coming to town for a twin bill on Tuesday, with first pitch at 5:45.