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Playing in 90-plus degree sweltering heat on July 1, the 19U Bethel Admirals American Legion Baseball team, which comprises Bethel and Newtown players, defeated host Shelton 3-1, at Shelton High School.
“Today I considered a war of attrition. The first man to blink in the heat loses, and we didn’t blink,” said Coach Josh Hull, whose team got a stellar outing from right-hander Kyle Roche on the mound.
Roche benefited from a three-run top of the first by the Admirals and allowed only a first-inning run to Shelton. He finished with six strikeouts and allowed just four hits. Roche did so very efficiently, using just 73 pitches to get the job done.
“His pitch count says it all,” Hull said.
Roche also contributed at the plate with a hard hit single.
Will Huegi singled leading off the game, and Rob Lombardo walked. Stefano Dimeglio sacrificed and reached base. All three players scored, highlighted by an Orlando Swift two-run single.
Swift, a pitcher who has not had much opportunity to bat but has been looking for some chances to dig into the batter’s box, has had some chances due to injuries, and made the most of them, Hull said.
“He’s swinging the hottest bat,” the coach added.
Rob Murray, playing shortstop, made the defensive play of the game, seemingly coming out of nowhere to make a catch in the shallow outfield after the ball was lost by his teammates in the sun.
Shelton won two games over Danbury earlier that same day, finishing off a game suspended by rain, then playing a makeup from another weather-impacted contest.
The Admirals had a win and suffered a trio of losses in other action this past week. They carried a record of 9-5 and third-place status in Zone 5 play into the middle of the week.
On June 27, Zone 5 leader Oakville nipped the Admirals 3-2. Swift went six innings and allowed five hits and four walks, compiling seven strikeouts along the way. Ben Harrison was 1-for-1 with a run batted in and run scored.
In a visit to Waterbury the next day, the Admirals came out on top 5-2. Tyler Davis went seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks while fanning 11. Harrison continued his timely hitting with an RBI triple. Dylan Champagne ignited a two-run inning by hustling out an infield hit on a routine grounder to second base. Third baseman Murray thwarted a Waterbury rally with a tag-the-runner and throw-it-across double play.
In a June 30 double header with Waterbury at Bethel’s Hunt Field, a thinned roster led to outfielders and pitchers manning infield positions and, thus, too many errors for the Admirals to overcome.
Waterbury won the opener 6-3. Champagne went five innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven. Lombardo, Harrison, and Josh Taylor all had doubles.
In game two of the twin bill, Waterbury won 7-5. Harrison was 2-for-2, and Taylor had a hit and a pair of walks.