Post 196 Junior Legionnaires remain atop Zone II

Joe Morris threw a one-hit shutout to lead the Milford Post 196 Junior Legion team to a 7-0 victory over Branford on Sunday, July 6, at Ken Walker Field.

Post 196, led by head coach Angelo Simonelli and assistants Dave Lanese, Jim Mucciacciaro and Ray Huber, improved to 15-2 overall, while second-place Branford dropped to 11-3.

Milford scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning, aided by a throwing error by Branford pitcher Chris Rayner.

Michael Piechota’s double sailed over the head of Branford center fielder Jordan Botte to provide a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Piechota then stole home on the back end of a double steal for Post 196’s final run.

Anthony Raccio and Dylan Bartel each had two hits and one RBI for Milford.

Trevor Brown had Branford’s lone hit in the top of the fifth inning. Post 196 second baseman Rob Lynch made a diving stop on Brown’s grounder in the hole between second and first, but Brown beat the throw to the bag.

Morris, who faced two batters over the minimum, then induced a liner off the bat of Derek Candelora that Lynch snared — flipping to Raccio at first to complete the inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the first inning, Post 196 struck for four runs.

James Mucciacciaro worked Rayner, who allowed six hits, for a lead-off walk. After Angelo Simonelli followed with a walk, Mike Bevino hit a sharp grounder back to the mound.

Rayner knocked it down, but threw the ball down the right-field line. James Mucciacciaro scored from second, with Angelo Simonelli moving to third and Bevino to second base.

Raccio and Bartel then hit back-to-back RBI singles, before Colin Firmender lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 Post 196.

Rayner escaped further damage when Piechota’s fly ball to left field was caught by Brown, who doubled off Bartel at second base for the third out. It was the first of three double plays for Post 196 that kept it from blowing the game wide open in the early innings.

Candelora reached on a error leading off the third for Branford, but Morris notched a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to retire the side.

That set off a stretch of seven batters retired in a row by Morris, a rising junior at Notre Dame of West Haven, until Brown’s infield hit broke up the no-hitter in the fifth.

Morris allowed just one more base runner the rest of the way, when Devin DeRenzo drew a two-out walk in the seventh. Ross Prior’s groundball to first base was handled by Raccio, who sealed the victory with the unassisted putout.

Milford wrapped up a three-game game set with Branford, before hosting Fairfield (5-14) at Jonathan Law on Friday at 5:45 p.m.

Post 196 travels to East Haven (5-10) on Saturday at 4. Milford then hosts East Haven on Sunday at 1 p.m.