A strong diamond campaign came to a quiet close Saturday, July 21, for the New Milford Post 31 American Legion baseball team.
Coach Paul Iverson's local `9' bowed to visiting Willimantic, 5-1, in a state tournament elimination game to close the books on a 2012 season that began nearly two months earlier. New Milford posted a 20-15 overall ledger including a winning record in games vs. fellow Zone 5 rivals.
Coach Iverson's squad had been ranked 24th in the state to earn the home-field advantage over Willimantic, but it wasn't enough Saturday against its cross-state foe.
In front of a partisan New Milford crowd at Volunteers Field along Boardman Road, Willimantic starting pitcher Nick Faba and Post 31 hurler Dan Hedden matched zeroes on the board for the first three innings.
Willimantic reached Hedden for two runs in the top of the fourth, but Post 31 bounced back in the home half to score its only run courtesy of Dan Stevens' roped double to leftfield and an ensuing RBI groundout from Harlan Zeerip.
That was to be it for the New Milford attack, however, and Willimantic managed three insurance runs off reliever Zeerip before he gave way on the mound to Corey Jerolmon in the eighth frame.
Post 31's offense was sparked by Stevens with a single and double, Steve Kuss with two hits and Jerolmon with a double in his only plate appearance.
"They all put in plenty of hard work over the course of the season," said coach Iverson, "and contributed significantly both on and off the field."
"Each one of them has groomed the youth of the team for success down the road," he added, "and the program has benefited from their contributions."