By KEN MORSE
Following a couple of tough losses last week, the Plainville American Legion baseball team needed a strong performance from pitcher Nate Michalek. The Bentley-bound left-hander didn’t disappoint his mates as he fired a three-hit shutout on Sunday as Post 33 escaped with a 1-0 win over Wolcott.
Plainville struggled offensively earlier in the week in a 13-1 loss to Bristol last Tuesday and fell to Avon by an 11-0 count on Thursday. In both setbacks it was the big inning that Post 33 couldn’t avoid while they had trouble generating any offense.
Michalek made sure from the first pitch of the game that wouldn’t be a problem as he had things well in hand. Even a couple of infield errors didn’t seem to faze Michalek as he just dialed it up striking out two batters in the second and two more in the third.
“Nate has been amazing for us all season,” said Plainville head coach Brian McCarthy. “He kept us in this game. I wish we could have scored a few more runs for him. We tried and we had a few chances but we just didn’t get that last timely hit.”
“It’s been a tough few games so they really need a game like this. They are a great group of guys and they are all buying into it. Hopefully this will help us to turn things around.”
Ryan Rodriguez got the first hit of the game for Plainville leading off the second inning with a single to left. A stolen base put him in scoring position and Tyler Mandeville moved the runner along on a groundout.
Rodriguez took his lead off third base when Wolcott pitcher Steve Urbanski uncorked a wild pitch allowing the only run of the game.
“The run scoring opportunity was kind of by mistake,” said Rodriguez. “I kind of left early and almost got picked off at first but wound up with a stolen base. I was able to get to third and then scored on the wild pitch.”
“I knew once we scored the first run of the game we had a good chance of winning because we were really all pumped up.”
Plainville did continue to put pressure on Wolcott but couldn’t push another run across the plate. Tyler Davis beat out an infield hit up the third base side with two outs in the third inning.
Jaylen Dias followed with a single to left setting up runners at first and second but Urbanski escaped the jam inducing Jonathan Olson to hit into a groundout at second.
Alec Couture drew a lead-off walk to start the fifth inning and got into scoring position when Tyler Dufour laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. A strikeout and a groundout halted the uprising.
In the sixth inning Dias led off sending a blast to the base of the left field fence for a standup double. Olson flied deep to center and another strikeout and groundout ended the chance to up the margin.
Wolcott had a few opportunities of their own but the defense behind Michalek made the plays they had to with right fielder Ryan Snyder making three plays in the outfield and the lefty continued to pound the strike zone. Anthony Ligi broke up the no-hit bid getting the first hit for Wolcott with one out in the fourth.
A wild pick-off throw sent the runner to third but Michalek got a pop up in the infield and struck out the final batter to end the inning. With two outs in the fifth Cesar Vasquez dropped a single to short right and stole second base before a groundout ended the drama.
“The guys played great defense behind me,” said Michalek. “There’s not a whole lot of room for error in a one run game but we managed to pull it out. When things got a little dicey I just went back to my fastball and focused on locating it in the strike zone.”
“That helped me to get some timely outs when I needed it. A game like this is a good momentum builder and hopefully we can carry that throughout the rest of the week.”
Wolcott tried to make it happen in the sixth when Reece Ketcham was hit by a pitch and took off on a steal attempt. The throw from Plainville catcher Juan Camacho arrived well ahead of the runner to end the threat.
Michalek went the distance seven innings, three hits, seven strikeouts and one walk as Plainville improved to 2-6 in Zone 1 play. Plainville finishes out the week hosting Simsbury on Wednesday and Torrington on Thursday.