Naugatuck Post 17 defeated Branford in a Pod G elimination game Tuesday at Naugatuck High School.
Naugatuck won the game handily as the team mercy ruled its opponent in five innings 10-0.
With the victory, Naugatuck advances to the Pod championship Wednesday, where it will have to beat Guilford twice to advance to the American Legion Super Regionals, while Branford sees its season come to an end.
Earning the win on the mound was southpaw Nate Deptula as he fired five one-hit innings in the shortened shutout. The only hit he allowed came in the first inning with a leadoff single by Damien Manascalco. “Nate did a phenomenal job tonight.” Said Naugatuck head coach Ron Plasky. “He’s not an overpowering pitcher but he hits his spots and he frustrates you and he kept throwing up zeros.”
Offensively, Naugatuck compiled 10 runs on 11 hits. The team was led by Jarett Allen (2-2), Corey Plasky (2-4 with 3 RBIs), and Derek Jagello (2-3 with 2 RBIs).
Naugatuck scored quickly as both Jagello and Jon Chatfield knocked in runs with base hits, followed by a bases loaded walk forcing a quick call to the bullpen for Branford.
Branford reliever Matt Judd was able to escape the inning without any more damage and pitched scoreless second and third innings as well, keeping the score at 3-0.
Naugatuck broke out in the fourth however, taking advantage of a walk by following it with six singles, including a two-run hit by Plasky.
In the fifth inning, Naugatuck hit for four consecutive singles to start the inning, pushing across the 10th run on an unconventional walk-off single by Will McDonald.
The two teams had faced off earlier in tournament play when Naugatuck won 1-0 in 10 innings and featured both benches clearing after a controversial slide into second base.
On Sunday, Guilford defeated Naugatuck 6-5.
“We are in playoff baseball right now. We are playing with house money. This is what you play for, to compete at this level and compete for the state.” Naugatuck coach Plasky said.
Guilford is 3-0 in Pod play as they will need to be beaten twice by 2-1 Naugatuck in the double elimination tournament for Naugatuck to advance.
Branford finished its regular season with a 16-5 record in Zone 2 and earned one win in the post-season as it beat Stamford 1-0 on Sunday.
Branford featured players who will be playing college baseball in the fall including Zane Kmietek (Marist), Nikko Liguori (Franklin Pierce), Carson Mendoza (Stonehill), Alphonse Suppa (UConn Avery-Point) and Robert Barbash (Elms).
The team finished its regular season on a 7-3 run in its last ten games with a four game win streak to tie North Haven for second place in the Zone, one game behind first place Hamden.