GUILFORD >> Undermanned and with a coach in his first game at the helm, it seemed like it would be a long night for Guilford Post 48 in its American Legion season opener against defending Zone III champion Cheshire Post 92.
With just 11 players dressed and a new coach in Lou Penna, Post 48 took Cheshire to the seventh inning before Post 92 was able to come up with a 7-4 victory at Adams Middle School. Guilford is playing there because of the construction of the new Guilford High School.
Penna took over the team over the weekend when Fred Parcesepe resigned. It’s his first head coaching job at this level. The former Notre Dame-West Haven star has coached 13-year-olds in summer and fall baseball, along with the junior varsity at the high school.
“We don’t have a lot of depth, but we have a lot of kids who cover a lot of ground and can play different positions,” Penna said. “We’ll test the limits of a lot of kids who asked me to pitch during junior varsity season. They’ll realize just how hard it is to pitch.”
On Tuesday night it was evident it was an early zone game as the two teams made a number of mistakes. But they were tied, 4-4, going to the seventh when Mike Purcell doubled for his fourth hit of the night to lead off the inning.
One out later, Wes Robertson doubled in Purcell with the eventual game-winner. Pat Downey followed with another RBI double and scored on Adam vonFischer’s RBI single.
After retiring the first six hitters he faced, Cheshire’s P.J. Watson found trouble in the bottom of the seventh, allowing two hits and a walk as Guilford loaded the bases. However, Watson got Nate Monte to ground out to end the game.
“Getting the first one is sometimes really tough,” Cheshire coach Bill Robertson said. “When you added new guys to the team, you have to get them comfortable with each other.”
All of the other runs were scored in the third and fourth innings After Cheshire took a 1-0 lead in its half of the third, Guilford took advantage of Christian Culp’s wildness.
Culp, who will play at Southern Connecticut State University next year but didn’t play this spring, hit three Post 48 batters in a row. Alex Potoscny made him pay for it when he singled in two runs and Nate Monte singled in another.
Cheshire followed with a three-run fourth inning with a balk by Luke Nerney accounting for the go-ahead run. Guilford tied it in the bottom of the inning when it scored on a wild pitch by Culp.
“He lost his command,” Robertson said. “He hasn’t pitched a game in 10 months, so after two clean innings, his command went.”
Nerney pitched all seven innings for Guilford.
“He gave us a solid seven innings,” Penna said. “We made too many bad throws and didn’t think before acting. We also have to work on taking the right pitches and not swinging at pitchers’ pitches.”