CHESHIRE — This summer has been a struggle for Cheshire Post 92, but Bill Robertson’s American Legion baseball squad has rallied to put itself in position to claim the Zone 3 title.
It comes down to Cheshire and front-running Middletown. Fittingly, the two teams close the regular season with a four-game series this week.
The series was supposed to open Monday night, but rain washed the critical series opener away. The teams will now meet tonight at Cheshire High School at 5:45, play a doubleheader at Middletown’s Palmer Field on Wednesday and then clash in the season finale on Thursday back in Cheshire.
Middletown comes into the series with a 19-5 zone mark. Cheshire sits two games behind at 17-7 and is riding a six-game winning streak.
“Middletown is in first place and they have put themselves in really good position to win the Zone,” Robertson said. “We have struggled most of the year. We have an opportunity if we win three out of four.”
Robertson said his team has rebounded from a rough start.
“Our defense his solidified to a certain extent,” the coach said. “We have moved guys around. We have had some injuries to our pitching staff, but we feel like we are going to show up and play good ball. Our team is flawed this year, but we have gotten better. But we have to pick up the ball and not give up extra outs to have a chance.
The squad’s No. 1, Christian Colp hasn’t pitched in three weeks and has only thrown 17 innings all season.
Hard-throwing righty Kyle Waldron (2-1, 1.40) missed two weeks and is expected to take the mound tonight at Burt Leventhal Field. Parker Barnell (4-2, 1.25) will toe the rubber in Game 2 of the series.
P.J. Watson (5-2, 0.64) and Liam Davey (4-2, 1.92) have also been solid for Cheshire this summer.
Regardless of what happens this week against Middletown, Post 92 has already clinched a spot in the state playoffs. The final four games are about seeding and the advantageous byes that go with a first-place finish.
“We’ve talked about what this week means,” Robertson said. “It’s a great opportunity. Over this week we will find out how much we have improved.”
Mike Purcell (.450, 2 HR, 22 RBI), Pat Downey (.356, 19 RBI) and Wes Robertson (.350) have been Cheshire’s most consistent hitters. Dan Schock, who broke Cheshire High’s single-season home run record this spring, has excelled after being put in the leadoff spot.
“Dan has come on strong in the last 10 games,” Bill Robertson said. “He struggled the first 10 to 12 games and now he is starting to show the pop again. He is swinging the bat really well for us.”
Meriden Post 45 has also qualified for the playoffs. The Silver City squad has won 12 of its last 13 games to move into third place in Zone 3 at 16-8.
Meriden finishes its regular season with four games against Westbrook. The two teams square off in a doubleheader tonight at Westbrook’s Indian River Complex before playing the last two games at Legion Field on Wednesday and Thursday.
“If Middletown and Cheshire split and we sweep, then we will finish in second place,” Post 45 coach Doug Wedge said. “We can’t finish in first, but I could point to three games that we could have won that we gave away. We would be right there with one loss behind Middletown. You have to show up to every game. Every game matters.”
Wedge said his team has been special all year, all 18 players.
“Over the last stretch they have kicked it up a notch,” Wedge said. “They have lifted their games and have played to their potential. We have had some breaks, but we have played fundamentally solid baseball. They are moving runners over and paying very close attention to detail. That attention to detail have gotten us a win.
“This team is like the Brady Bunch,” he added. “If something happens to one guy, they all feel like crap for him. Some of these guys have a chip on their shoulders, too. We think we can play with anybody and we want to show it.”