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The Bethel Admirals 19U American Legion Baseball team won four of its first five games in summer wooden bat league Zone 5 play. The Admirals comprise players from Bethel and Newtown and play their home games at Bethel High School.
Bethel defeated Newtown in this year’s South-West Conference championship game, and Newtown bested Bethel in the title clash the previous season.
“It’s tremendous. It’s players from the two teams that have been in the SWC final the last two years,” Admirals Coach Josh Hull said.
The talented lineup put its strong pitching on display in the opener, as Kyle Roche tossed a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win over Naugatuck on June 10. Cole Demirjian walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to force in Will Huegi with the winning run of this true to its name walk-off victory. Roche allowed three hits, did not walk a batter, hit one, and struck out five.
Newtown fell 3-2 at Shelton on June 12. The lone defeat in the early going was a nail-biter. Orlando Swift pitched well for 5.2 innings, fanning ten batters along the way, to keep the Admirals in the game. A web gem was turned in by right fielder Dylan Champagne with a throw to catcher Demirjian for an out. Rob Murray and Rob Lombardo both had hits and scored runs.
Bethel scored an 11-1 victory over Danbury (five inning mercy rule triumph) on June 14. Champagne doubled to deep left to lead off the game and the Admirals never looked back. Ben Harrison contributed a pair of two-baggers.
On June 16, the Admirals edged Washington 2-1. Southpaw Champagne started on the mound and threw four innings of shutout ball, allowing only two hits and no walks. The Admirals quelled a no-out bases-loaded seventh inning rally as reliever Tyler Davis picked a runner off third base and second baseman Andy Ridzik recorded a dazzling putout on a hard grounder up middle to end the game.
The next day, the Admirals handed Oakville its first loss with a 5-2 triumph. Right-hander Roche did the job on what Hull described as a splendid but sweltering Father’s Day afternoon at Taft School. Roche allowed four hits and struck out five in a complete game effort. Murray (3-for-3, double), Harrison (2-for-3, double), and Brian Ridzik (2-for-4, double) drove the offense. Defensively, shortstop Brian Ridzik and first baseman Demirjian turned in web gems.
Hull is pleased with the performances and also with what Mother Nature has had in store, even if it was a bit chilly for the season some nights and hot some days.
“I’m hoping the weather continues, so our guys can get rest,” Hull said.
Last summer, rain forced several double headers and games on consecutive days, taking a toll on the pitching staff.