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Madison Legion Baseball Eliminated from Regional Qualifier, Playing in States
Jared Kuryan and the Madison Senior American Legion baseball team were eliminated from the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament, but still have the State Tournament on their plate this week. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
Jack Pireaux and the Madison Senior Legion baseball squad finished in first place in Zone 2 by posting a regular-season record of 16-3 in the regular season this summer. (File photo by Susan Lambert/The Source)
Eli Davies had two hits for Post 79 when the team took a 3-1 loss to NCL Windsor Locks-Windsor in its first game of the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament last week. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
After winning the Zone 2 title during the regular season, the Madison Senior American Legion 19-U baseball team opened up postseason play last week. Madison competed in the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament with its sights set on advancing to regionals and, ultimately, the American Legion World Series in North Carolina.
Madison had finished with a regular-season record of 16-3 on its way to taking first place in Zone 2, earning the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament. Unfortunately for Post 79, the team was eliminated from the qualifier by losing its first two games of the draw with defeats against NCL Windsor Locks-Windsor and Wallingford.
Despite the losses, Madison’s season isn’t over as it will be competing in the State Tournament this week. Connecticut Legion employed a different format this year in which the top 10 teams in state played a double-elimination qualifying tournament for a spot in the Northeast Regional. Teams that were eliminated could then play in the State Tournament.
Even though the winner of states won’t advance to regionals as in past years, Head Coach Jeff Buck’s team still has a chance to finish its season on a high note.
“I am never disappointed in this group of young men. They always play hard and represent Madison Legion extremely well,” said Buck. “It was unfortunate that we were eliminated from the Regional Qualifying Tournament, but our focus is now on winning states.”
Madison opened play in the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament by hosting No. 7 seed NCL Windsor Locks-Windsor on July 26 and lost 3-1 at Town Campus Field. Catcher Eli Davies had two of Madison’s four hits on the day, while infielder Jared Kuryan drew two walks. Pitcher Chris Wanat threw a complete game for Post 79, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven against NCL, which went on to win the tournament.
Facing elimination, Madison hosted familiar Zone 2 foe Wallingford the following day and lost the contest by a 6-0 score. Madison, which moved to 16-5 overall on the year, was only able to get one hit against a 6th-seeded Wallingford team that was also facing elimination.
While Madison was hoping to go further in the tournament, Coach Buck appreciates everything that his squad as achieved this summer. Buck realizes the significance of finishing in first place in the Zone 2 standings.
“This summer season has gone very well for the players. The team was able to accomplish something that has never been done since I became the head coach. They finished first in the zone after the regular season, becoming regular-season champs for Zone 2,” Buck said. “This is a special group of young men that worked hard not just this summer, but for several years to accomplish many things on the field and off the field.”
Madison’s roster for the season features Matt Carone, Ryan Knight, Eli Davies, Danny Weinstein, Chris Engelhart, Jeff Pinover, Andrew Earl, David Antonetti, Will Kranzler, Chris Wanat, Jared Kuryan, John deChabert, Jack Pireaux, Will Bazenas, Jack Kayal, and Ken Nuzzi.
Kuryan, Nuzzi, and Pireaux have paced Post 79’s offense throughout the summer. Kuryan posted a .352 batting average to go with 22 runs scored and 14 RBI in the regular season. Nuzzi was right behind Kuryan at .348, and he also had 15 stolen bases on the campaign. Pireaux batted at a .280 clip with 14 runs scored and nine stolen bases for Coach Buck’s club.
“All three of these players swing the bat well and produce when it is needed to help the team succeed,” said Buck. “Jared is leading majority of the offensive categories for the team with Ken and Jack shortly behind.”
Wanat and Carone have anchored Madison’s pitching staff throughout the 2021 camapign. Both pitchers recorded a sub-2.00 ERA during the regular season.
“Chris and Matt are great pitchers that have pure confidence and competitiveness to get the job done and win baseball games,” Coach Buck said.
One of Buck’s favorite moments of the season came when Kuryan tossed a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory versus Branford early in the year. Of course, Buck was also overjoyed when Madison clinched the Zone 2 championship by earning a 10-1 win against Branford in its regular-season finale.
“Jared’s no-hitter was a sight to see. He was locked in and throwing hard and accurate. It was easily his best outing as a pitcher as a Madison Senior Legion player. Knowing how hard he works and to see it all pay off was amazing to see,” said Buck. “The win that secured first place and regular-season Zone 2 championship was another amazing game. Once the players knew what was on the line for that game, I saw everyone on the roster find an extra level of focus and determination. They all knew what they needed to do to get the job done and make sure that we came out as winners.”
Madison now sets its sights on the single-elimination State Tournament that began on Aug. 3 (after press time) and culminates with the championship game on Saturday, Aug. 8. Coach Buck’s expectations are for Post 79 to come away with a title, but most importantly, he wants his players to leave it all on the field.
“My expectations for the State Tournament are that this team will rise to the occasion and give everything that they have to keep winning,” Buck said. “The players all have a common goal of proving how good they are as baseball players and making sure Madison is associated as a baseball town.”
No matter what happens the rest of the way, Coach Buck said that this year’s Madison team is one of the most special groups that he’s ever had the privilege to coach.
“This is a special team. They have had a lot of success over the years in the Madison Travel Baseball program as younger players and now as the older team in the town,” said Buck. “They truly bought into the expression of, ‘Playing for the M.’ They understand that it’s a privilege to play for this program, team, and town. They have put in a ton of hard work to get them into the position that they are in now, and it’s an amazing experience to coach and watch them compete from the dugout.”