Schooners are off and running this season

Buy Photo Dana Jensen/The Day Mystic Schooners shortstop Anthony Turgeon, the former Fitch High School standout, throws to first for a double play in the first inning of Friday's New England Collegiate Baseball League game against the Keene Swamp Bats at Fitch High School in Groton. Dylan Moore of Keene (4) is out at second. Mystic won 7-4 to improve to 4-0.

Groton - Anthony Turgeon has a good feeling about the Mystic Schooners this season.

A year after the Schooners won only nine games during a dreadful New England Collegiate Baseball League season, Turgeon is enjoying the flip side.

The Schooners are the only undefeated team a week into the season.

They're winning in a variety of ways. Turgeon supplied the drama with a game-winning home run in the season-opening win over Keene last Saturday.

They beat Keene again on Friday, 7-4, at Fitch High School, the field where Turgeon played high school ball.

"It's a good group of guys," said Turgeon, who plays at Central Connecticut State University. "We've only known each other for a week, but we're blending together pretty quick. Everybody is just having fun and playing hard.

"... It's great getting off to a good start, but it's a long season."

Turgeon and Kyle Holland, a Montville graduate, are two of only a handful of returning players.

"This year is a lot better so far," said Holland, who attends Dakota St.

The Schooners already have won four times this season. They didn't earn their fourth win last year until the 26th game.

"We had a rash of injuries last year and kids having to go home," said coach Phil Orbe, who's in his second season. "The baseball Gods weren't really shining on us last year.

"We brought back five or six guys from last year's team who stuck with us throughout the whole year. Their energy and their experience has really helped us a lot this year."

Orbe and general manager Dennis Long worked hard in the off-season to assemble a competitive roster. They tapped into their baseball connections, bringing in proven mature college players from respectable programs.

"Any level of baseball, it always comes down to pitching," Orbe said. "And our pitching has been very good up until this point."

Another one of Orbe's starters turned in a decent start on Friday, as Anthony Galan, a right-hander from Brown University, allowed three earned runs in five innings and earned the win.

The pitching staff also has several local players, including Montville's Tre Gonzalez (Southern New Hampshire), Zach Albin (UConn-Avery Point), North Stonington's Conor Gleason (CCRI) and Waterford's A.J. Turnier (Southern Connecticut). Turnier pitched two scoreless innings on Friday.

Good fortune, which was in short supply in 2012, is plentiful so far.

For example, take what happened during a four-run third inning. Caught far off of third base, Joel Rosencrance should have been out in a rundown, but Keene blew the play, allowing the lumbering 6-foot-5, 230-pound first baseman to safely dive into home.

Tyler Boyd of Seton Hall belted his second home run this season - a two-run shot in the first - to put the Schooners ahead for good.

Orbe has more quality players arriving on Monday when two Miami players and one from Cal State Fullerton join the team.

Finding enough playing time for everyone will be tough, but Orbe will take that kind of problem over what happened last year.

Now that the roster is stocked with talent, Long is working on building a fan base and tying into the community. His goal is to average 500 to 1,000 fans per game.

A successful start should help in that department.

"We want people watching summer baseball...," Long said before the game. "It's fun to watch winning baseball. Just three silly wins so far has changed the energy around the ballpark. We're looking forward to a fun summer."

g.keefe@theday.com

Tyler Boyd of the Mystic Schooners (17) congratulates Joel Rosencrance (55) when he scored after being caught in a rundown during the third inning of Friday night's New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Fitch High School in Groton. Keene pitcher Joe McCarthy, right, reacts to the call.
Buy Photo Dana Jensen/The Day Tyler Boyd of the Mystic Schooners (17) congratulates Joel Rosencrance (55) when he scored after being caught in a rundown during the third inning of Friday night's New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Fitch High School in Groton. Keene pitcher Joe McCarthy, right, reacts to the call.
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