MIDDLETOWN >> The American Legion baseball postseason gets underway Saturday with 32 teams playing single elimination games Saturday and Sunday. The 16 games Saturday and the eight games Sunday, which match Saturday’s winners, will be played at the higher-seeded team’s home field.
Some 40 teams qualify for the postseason and the state will be divided into two divisions: Northern and Southern. Twenty teams from Zone 2, 3, 4 and 5 make up the Southern Division, while 20 teams from Zone 1, 6, 7 and 8 play in the Northern Division.
Middletown will play at Trumbull, the highest seeded second place team in the South division, on Saturday at noon. Post 75 is in the tournament because of a national rule which requires host tourney teams get a bid. Middletown hosts the Southern semifinal, double-elimination “Super Regionals” beginning July 23 at Palmer Field.
The eight zone champions draw byes for the single-elimination rounds. This weekend’s one-and-done “sectional” rounds will produce eight survivors and those teams will play the Zone champions in a best-of-three “regionals” series beginning Wednesday at the Zone champions’ home fields.
The Zone champs include Avon (Zone 1), Stratford (Zone 2), Cheshire (Zone 3), Stamford (Zone 4), Waterbury (Zone 5), Niantic (Zone 6), RCP (Zone 7) and Tolland (Zone 8).
RCP, the defending state and regional champion, will host one of the survivors Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Fran Monnes Field at Cromwell High School. The second game will be played on the road and a third game, if necessary, will take place on Thursday at Cromwell.
At the end of these “regionals” series, there will be eight survivors. Four teams will play a double-elimination series at South Windsor’s Rotary Field and four will play a double-elimination series at Middletown’s Palmer Field beginning Saturday, July 23.
Those series will run through July 26 — if necessary, July 27 — then the two winners from South Windsor and Middletown will play a best-of-three state championship series at Palmer Field beginning July 29, with single games each day.
The Friday game will be at 6:30 p.m., the Saturday game will be at 11 a.m. and the if necessary Sunday game will be at noon.
The champion will advance to the Northeast Regional at Bristol’s Muzzy Field beginning Aug. 3 with the regional winner advancing to the Legion World Series at Shelby, N.C.
The official pairings for the tournament will be announced on the state Legion website (ctlegionbball.com) no later than 10 p.m. this evening.
The 17-and-under Junior Tournament begins next week. The championship game will be played Saturday, July 30, at 2:30 p.m. at Middletown’s Palmer Field. The 15-and-under tournament’s championship game will be played on Sunday, July 31, at 3:30 p.m. in Middletown.
In the senior tournament, the favorites going in are Stamford, RCP and Waterbury. RCP has the strongest pedigree, having won the Zone 7 title five years running, plus winning the Connecticut state title in 2015 and the Northeast Regional crown in both 2014 and 2015.
RCP got in the regional in 2014 when Connecticut, on the strength of high Legion baseball participation, was awarded two teams. RCP was the state runner-up, then ran through the regional, defeating Milford (Mass.) in walk-off fashion in the title game at Palmer Field.
In 2015, RCP won the regional again, defeating host Bristol in the final game at Muzzy Field.
In a major change, all tournament games except the state final best-of-three, will be seven innings and will be played under Connecticut rules. The final series will be nine inning games and will be played under national rules.