SOUTHINGTON — Two days after playing for a Class LL state championship, several members of the Southington Blue Knights baseball team were back on the diamond competing for a talented Southington Post 72 American Legion squad.
Southington opened its season Tuesday night with a decisive 5-0 victory over Winsted Post 43 in Zone 1 action at Fontana Field.
Post 72 starter Austin Bumberra mowed through the Winsted lineup, tossing a one-hit gem. He piled up 14 strikeouts in six innings on 82 pitches.
“I came out and my stuff was on,” Bumberra said. “My curveball was working and I was able to hit my spots well with my fastball.”
Bumberra’s no-hit bid was broken up with two outs in the sixth on a clean single up the middle.
He walked one. Another runner reached on a dropped third strike in the sixth and the southpaw immediately picked him off.
“The third inning I was thinking about (the no-hitter) a little bit,” Bumberra said. “I didn’t say anything. My catcher (Zac Susi) mentioned it to me. I just went out and threw strikes and just hoped for the best. The hit I gave up was a curveball, low, and the kid put a pretty good swing on it on the outside corner.”
Shawn Brunoli tossed a scoreless seventh to close out the win for Post 72.
A potent Post 72 lineup started the season opener with three consecutive hits from Brett Shaw, Ryan DeAngelo and Kyle McLean. Shaw singled and stole second and scored on a RBI double by DeAngelo. McLean kept it going with a RBI base knock of his own as the Knights grabbed an instant 2-0 advantage.
Joe Daigle walked to open the second and eventually scored on a Shaw sacrifice fly that grew the lead to 3-0.
Southington added two more runs in the fourth. Susi started the frame with a booming triple to right field. Daigle drove him in with an infield single.
Daigle stole second. He then swiped third and then took home after an errant throw by the Winsted catcher to stretch the Southington lead to 5-0.
Post 72 piled up seven stolen bases, a trademark of last year’s team, which totaled 125 thefts.
Like last year, Southington has the highest of expectations. Post 72 was a finalist in the state tournament last summer and finished with a 23-7 record.
“This year is a completely different team,” Post 72 coach Marc Verderame said. “We are a lot younger, but we still expect to win the Zone and do whatever we can in the playoffs. Different faces, same goal.
“For returners we have Zac Susi catching, right fielder Mike Rogalski, Brett Shaw is our centerfielder, Joe Rivera pitching, Josh Dobratz at first base, Joe Daigle at shortstop,” the coach added. “That’s pretty much it. We have a lot of new faces and young guys that need to step up. It’s a good time to do that. We are going to stick with our aggressive offense.”
This year’s rotation includes Kyle Cole and Rivera and “TBA,” but Bumberra impressed his head coach on Tuesday.
“That’s my first time seeing him,” Verderame said. “He’s immediately on the radar. He’s a young kid trying to prove himself and that’s what he did today.”
Southington has no college players returning this year with Ted Shaw, Matt DiNello, Andrew Goralski and Matt Sirois playing elsewhere.
“I wish them all the best,” Verderame said. “We will miss them, but this is a strong program and it’s the next guy up. We have a lot of good guys coming up and I believe in them. We are going to have a lot of fun this summer, that’s the No. 1 goal.”