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After the Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball 9-year-old All Star team lost in the opening round of the Leonard Invitational Tournament in Bethel, manager Tim Braun was not discouraged but actually relished the opportunity to play a lot of baseball.



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After the Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball 9-year-old All Star team lost in the opening round of the Leonard Invitational Tournament in Bethel, manager Tim Braun was not discouraged but actually relished the opportunity to play a lot of baseball.

“With a new team that is still trying to figure itself out,” he said, “it would be a real advantage to have to play almost every day in the losers’ bracket.”

Braun’s optimism proved to be right on the money as the team reeled off five straight victories, including a double header sweep, to advance to the championship round against West Norwalk this week at Mitchell Park in Bethel.

In that first game, Newtown fell to Bethwood, 6-4, after a shaky start by the Bombers. Bethwood took a 6-0 lead after two innings and Newtown fell just short in a comeback bid. Dylan O’Connor (2-for-2, 3 RBIs), Jon Hull (single, 2 RBIs) and Gary Braun (single, RBI) led the Bombers at the plate. On the mound, Dan Poeltl (2 IP, 4 K), Reid Schmidt (2 K) and Chad Magoulas shut down Bethwood after the second inning. Poeltl also made a great backhanded stab on a hard grounder to short in the top of the sixth inning.

Newtown began its run to the finals by beating New Milford, 18-1, in a game shortened to four innings by the mercy rule. The Bombers started quick in the first inning, going up 8-0 on big hits by Braun, O’Connor, Andrew Kelly, Magoulas, David Gerics and Colton Sposta. The second inning went even worse for New Milford as Newtown plated 11 more runs. Hull led off with a single, Nick Barreto worked a walk and Poeltl drove in Hull with a single. Braun followed with his second hit of the game bringing in Barreto and Dean Demers dove in another run making it 13-0.

After run producing walks by O’Connor and Stephan Hennessey, Kelly, Magoulas, Sposta, Poeltl and Braun all singled to drive in runs. Poeltl, Schmidt, Braun and Sposta each pitched an inning, striking out eight batters along the way.

Newtown faced a tough Danbury team in the next game and came from behind to win, 5-4, in the bottom of the seventh. A run-scoring single by Schmidt, scoring O’Connor, did the trick.

O’Connor kept Danbury off the board in the top of the first by forcing a runner at second on a hard one-hopper to deep left field with a strong throw to second base that caught everyone by surprise. The Bombers went ahead, 1-0, in the bottom of the first on a single by Barreto, who promptly stole a couple of bases and scored on a wild pitch. Danbury went ahead 3-1 after the top of the fourth and added a run in the fifth to go up by two, setting the stage for the late game dramatics.

Hennessey cut the lead to one in the bottom of the fourth by scoring on Poeltl’s two out double after doubling himself. O’Connor took one for the team leading off the fifth by getting hit by a pitch and worked his way around the bases, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Braun tied the game in the sixth with a clutch sacrifice fly, scoring Dean Demers who led off the inning with a single. Braun shut down Danbury in the top of the seventh and O’Connor worked a walk to start the bottom of the frame, followed by Gerics’s single and a walk to Sposta, loading the bases for Schmidt, who sent one over the right fielder’s head to end the game.

Newtown’s next opponent was Cheshire and the Bombers ended this one after four innings with a convincing 11-1 win. Another quick start in the first led to a 6-0 lead, with key hits from Braun, Kelly, Hennessey and O’Connor. Schmidt led off the second with a walk and came around to score on Poeltl’s single, making it 7-0. The Bombers added two more in the third and two in the fourth on key hits by Hennessey, Magoulas, Schmidt and Poeltl.

On Sunday, the Bombers faced a formidable task as they had to sweep a doubleheader from a tough Southbury team and the Bethwood squad that sent Newtown to the losers’ bracket in the first game of the tournament.

In the first game, Newtown turned in a methodical, well-played performance, prevailing 9-0 over Southbury. Once again the Bombers started fast, scoring three in the first frame. Demers worked a walk with two outs and was sent to third by Braun’s single. Walks to Kelly and Hennessey plated the first run and Hull’s clutch single drove in two more. Sposta led off the third with a walk and came around to score on Demer’s single, making it 4-0. Newtown added five insurance runs in the fifth as Barreto, Poeltl, Braun and Kelly each collected RBI producing hits. Hennessey made a spectacular diving catch in left field in the first inning to set the tone defensively for the Bombers and Poeltl, Sposta, Braun, Hull and Schmidt combined on the mound for the two-hit shutout, fanning a total of eight Southbury batters.

The second game of the twin-bill pitted Newtown against nemesis Bethwood and this time the Bombers struck first by scoring Barreto on a bases loaded walk to Kelly in the first inning and aggressive base running in the second by Magoulas and Schmidt, who both drew walks and came around to score on a combination of delayed steals and wild pitches. Bethwood scored a run in the fourth, closing the gap to 3-1, but Newtown added a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to close out the game.

The pitching committee of Poeltl, Sposta, Braun, Hull and Schmidt again came through with six strong innings of work. The defensive highlight was a diving catch of a line drive by second baseman Gerics in the first inning.

In the championship round, the Bombers will have to beat West Norwalk twice to take home first place. Newtown will also begin its District Tournament on July 9th against Southbury and Bridgeport at Liberty Field in Newtown.

U14 All Stars

A split of a doubleheader with Ridgefield got the Newtown Babe Ruth Baseball 14-year-old All Star team off to a decent start.

The first was a pitchers’ duel, with Joe Greenfield of Newtown firing a seven-inning one-hitter, but coming out on the short end of a 3-0 score. Greenfield took a no-hitter into the seventh, surrendering the one hit and all three runs.

Newtown collected just two hits, as well, with Jared Modzelewski banging out a single and Francis Oggeri clubbing a double. Oggeri also caught the entire game and sparked the defense, as did Nick Urso at short, Modzelewski in center, Greg Larnerd at first and Jake Burg at third.

In second game, Ridgefield jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Newtown left five men on base through the first four innings. But the locals scratched and clawed their way back into the game. In the top of the fifth, they loaded the bases and Tucker LaPak cleared those bases with a triple. Urso doubled and singled and Modzelewski and Larnerd had singles to spark the offense.

Burg and Kyle DiNicola pitched well with Larnerd picking up the win with three strong innings of relief. Walter Murphy and Chris Marks played solid defense. Late in the game, Ridgefield had two men on with two out and Newtown – clinging to a one-run lead – put the game away when Modzelewski made a game-saving catch in centerfield off a blast by the Ridgefield cleanup hitter.

This week, the locals are in the early stages of the Norwalk Tournament. The District Tournament will start on Friday, January 9, in Danbury and in mid July will participate in the Germany Tournament (against a visiting club from Europe). Then the Jimmy Fund Tournament starts on July 31 in Newtown, but before that the 14-year-old State Tournament will begin on July 23 at Newtown High School.

The locals will be playing 35 to 40 games this summer. The team is coached by John Modzelewski, FJ Urso and Ray Larnerd.

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