2014 High School Baseball Preview

Waterford shortstop Jesse Coates throws to first base for an out in last season's CIAC Class L state tournament final against New Canaan at Palmer Field in Middletown.
Waterford shortstop Jesse Coates throws to first base for an out in last season's CIAC Class L state tournament final against New Canaan at Palmer Field in Middletown. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

ECC Large

East Lyme

Coach: Jack Biggs (9th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P Jack Livingston, Sr. OF Dean Beebe, Sr. IF Ryan Nickerson, Sr. P-IF Will Butler, Sr. C Austin Toback, Sr. P-IF Connor Elliott, Jr. P-OF Hunter Waido.

Top newcomers: Sr. P-OF Thomas Walker, P-OF C.J. Leindecker, Jr. C Connor Parker, Jr. IF Kyle Rigney, So. P-IF Matt Spang, So. IF Bennett Coe, Jr. OF Owen Tretter, Jr. OF Mike Morgan, Jr. OF Sam Gonski, Jr. P-IF Logan Banker, So. IF Miles Coe, Jr. IF Ben Keating.

Outlook: Pitching, and good pitching depth, will be a strong point for the Vikings, which Biggs feels is important because his team is young in some areas. East Lyme (14-9) must rely on its pitching and defense to carry it through the early part of the season while the younger players gain experience against a strong division and a competitive nonconference schedule. Toback was an All-ECC pick at catcher.

Fitch

Coach: Marc Peluso (7th season).

Key returnees: IF Jack Porter, IF Cooper Robinson, OF Carlos Rosario.

Top newcomers: UTL/C Jon Barstow, IF/P Dan Mewha, UTL/C John Hernandez.

Outlook: The Falcons (20-6, ECC Large Division co-champs) were hit hard by graduation losses, including all-state infielder Aaron Hill, now the starting shortstop as a freshman at UConn, so Peluso will have to be patient while a new core of players learn their varsity roles. Despite an inexperienced roster, Peluso is confident Fitch has enough talent to be competitive in the division.

Ledyard

Coach: Sam Kilpatrick (21st season).

Key returnees: Sr. 2B Kavan Jakuba, Sr. CF Jordan Kowalski, Sr. P Evan August, Jr. P Mike Bruce, Jr. P Kyle Haney, Jr. C Branden Medina, So. P Trevor Bolduc, So. IF Nick Traystman, So. 1B Anthony Viteritto.

Top newcomers: Jr. 3B Andrew Byrd, Jr. P Fred France, Jr. OF Mike Larmann, Jr. OF Mike McDowell, So. P Ty Ebdon, So. OF Lucas Saccone.

Outlook: The Colonels have two of the top offensive players in the ECC in Jakuba and Kowalski, an All-ECC selection in the outfield, and Kilpatrick said his defense has improved dramatically from a season ago. Ledyard (9-12) also has a strong and deep pitching staff which should make it a contender in the Large Division and a tough out in the state tournament. The Colonels formerly competed in the Medium Division.

NFA

Coach: Luke Gabordi (1st year).

Key returnees: Sr. P Zach Podurgiel, Sr. P-SS Chase Gendren, Sr. P-3B Eddie Gates, Sr. C Brandon Deveny, Sr. P-OF Brandin Strickland, Jr. IF-C Brandon Drabinski, Jr. OF-IF Brandon Russo, Jr. IF Will Trask, So. P-OF Andy Grant.

Top newcomers: Jr. P-OF Evan LaChance, So. OF Caleb Bierman, Jr. P Craig Maerkle, So. IF Griffen Gooden, Sr. P Jesus Garcia.

Outlook: Gabordi, a former standout athlete at Ledyard, takes over for Clarence Cooper at NFA and has an experienced group that he believes can compete for ECC divisional and tournament championships. The Wildcats were 13-9 a year ago, reaching the second round of the Class LL state tournament.

ECC Medium

Montville

Coach: Phil Orbe (20th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P-OF Joseph Brachas, Sr. P-OF Chad Mooney, Sr. P-1B Greg Benjamin, Jr. 3B-SS-P Buddy Dewaine Jr., Jr. C Jordan Zeppieri, Sr. OF-3B-P Stanley Kesilewski, So. 1B T.T. Bowens.

Top newcomers: Sr. 1B Mitch Dole, Sr. 2B Steve Rogers, Sr. OF Rohan Parekh, Sr. OF Marc McGrath, Jr. 3B Pat Monahan, Jr. C-OF Ben Rochester, Jr. C Ian Concascia, So. OF Isaiah Mack, So. 2B-P Tom McDonald, So. SS-2B Jeremy Sagan.

Outlook: The Indians were 18-7 a year ago and reached the Class M state semifinals, and will rely on a talented pitching staff to set the tone for another deep postseason run. Brachas (7-2, 1.54 ERA) was all-state as a junior while Mooney had a 1.24 ERA and Dewaine didn't allow an earned run as Montville finished with a team ERA of 1.59. Those three will also factor in the offense along with Kesilewski and Zeppieri, and Orbe likes what he sees so far of sophomores Bowens, Mack, Sagun and McDonald.

New London

Coach: Mike Wheeler (6th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P/IF/C Jason Edwards, Sr. IF Damon LaFrance, Sr. IF Beckett Scannelli, Sr. UTL Miguel Mirando, Sr. OF Cory Santana, Jr. P/IF Josh Vincent, Jr. P Quantique White, So. OF Gabriel Cortorreal, So. P/OF Jeremy Santos.

Top newcomers: Sr. OF Jose Roman, Sr. P/IF Eddie Santiago, Jr. P/IF Bryan Cespedes, Jr. OF Jacob Hollis, Jr. OF Troy Gray, Jr. OF Leo Clinton, So. IF/P Aryel Encarncion, So. C Juan Ontanez.

Outlook: Expect the Whalers, who return six starters and their entire pitching staff, to be a major factor in the division after experiencing some growing pains a year ago. Wheeler also expects immediate contributions from a pair of newcomers, Cespedes and Santiago. New London (11-10) moves to the ECC Medium after competing in the Large Division.

Stonington

Coach: Duffy Grace (7th season).

Key returnees: Sr. 1B Ryan Francis, Sr. C Connor Gilbert, Jr. OF-P Shane Foster.

Top newcomers: Sr. OF Ethan Schroeder, Jr. P-OF Mike Nossek, So. O-SS Cam Albin, So. P-OF-C John Moody.

Outlook: The Bears were hit hard by graduation, including the loss of all-state pick Doug Domnarski, who is now pitching at UConn-Avery Point. Nossek is the only returning pitcher with a varsity win, so the development of a young pitching staff will be vital to Stonington's success in the ultra-competitive Medium Division. Returning to the state tournament is a realistic goal for the Bears (14-10).

Waterford

Coach: Art Peluso (4th season).

Key returnees: Sr. OF Seth Hoagland, Sr. 1B/P Adam Goss, Sr. C Sam Strout, Sr. 2B Tommy Pezzolesi, Sr. SS Jesse Coates, Sr. P Colin Harrington, Jr. 3B/P Connor Lewis, Jr. OF Will Sherman, Jr. P Justin Pandolfe.

Top newcomers: Sr. OF Dylan Konakowitz, Jr. C/OF Brent Conderino, Jr. P Thomas Sutera, Jr. P Mike McDermott, So. UTL Kevin Johnson, So. 1B Jake Mangual, So. UTL Michael Rocchetti.

Outlook: The Lancers (23-5, co-champs in the ECC Large Division) relied on pitching a year ago, allowing only six runs in five state tournament games before losing to New Canaan 3-0 in the Class L final. They must replace P/3B Jordan Hamler, The Day's 2013 Baseball Player of the Year, but return a veteran cast deep in pitching led by Pandolfe, the winning pitcher in the ECC tournament final as a sophomore. Peluso believes Waterford must be a bit more consistent offensively to contend for conference and state titles again. Hoagland was an All-ECC honoree in the outfield.

ECC Small

St. Bernard

Coach: George Rivera (2nd season).

Key returnees: Sr. P/1B Willie Rios, Sr. CF Anthony Malchiodi, Sr. RF Rich Falvey, Sr. INF Will Cymbala, Sr. INF Pat Holloran, Sr. P Tom Pietruczuk, Jr. C Aaron Michaud, Jr. P Ian Li, So. 3B James Foti, So. P Scott Bailey.

Top newcomers: Fr. Josh Gurnack, Fr. Steven Gerovitz.

Outlook: The Saints, 18-5 last year and 10-0 to win the ECC Small Division, reached the Class S state quarterfinal round last year and will rely on their pitching to make another deep run into the postseason. Rios, a left-handed pitcher who is headed to Maryland, was 9-1 last season and selected for the Under Armour All-American Game in August at Wrigley Field. Rios, Malchiodi and Michaud all received All-ECC honors.

Wheeler

Coach: Charles Roark (2nd year).

Key returnees: Sr. P-CF Troy Stefanski, Sr. OF Andrew Swift, Jr. C-P Kevin Knowles, So. SS-P Mike Dellaporta, So. 1B Andy Rach, So. OF Alex Haines, So. OF-DH Matt Primett, So. DH Will Vorra.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Rasmus Kantoe, So. OF Cole Reck, So. OF Anthony Discuillio, Fr. P-OF Chris Munzer, Fr. 3B-P Dylan Wilkenson, Fr. 2B Josh Lapid, Fr. 3B-OF Evans Jones, Fr. 2B-OF Caleb Melanowski.

Outlook: Roark took the Lions to the Class S state tournament a year ago following a 9-11 regular season, and a return trip is a realistic goal with the return of captains Stefanski and Knowles, two of the better players in the division. Wheeler is still young (Roark played five freshmen a year ago), but the team has enough talent to be competitive in the Small Division race.

Others

Old Lyme

Coach: Randy St. Germain (11th season).

Key returnees: Sr. OF Trent Garbati, Sr. OF Dave Peck, Sr. IF Bill Buscetto, Sr. P-DH Dan Chapman, Sr. IF Phil Cohen, Jr. P-IF Matt Pryzbysz, Jr. P-OF Ross Golebiewski, Jr. C Hunter Sheffied.

Top newcomers: So. IF Cooper St. Germain, So. P-OF Cameron Dean-Frazier, So. P Will Visiglio, Jr. OF Colby Smith, Jr. OF Jeff Poirier, So. P-OF Brett Hartmann, So. P-IF Callum Saweden.

Outlook: The Wildcats (17-8, Class S state semifinal bid) are an experienced group and St. Germain expects his team to score runs and be solid defensively. There are still some question marks with the pitching staff, but if it gains experience and improves as the season progresses, Old Lyme could be a dangerous team in the Shoreline Conference and in Class S.

Williams

Coach: Scott Hockford (14th season).

Key returnees: Sr. OF Andrew Meagher, Sr. P/C/IF Nick Smith, Sr. P/IF/OF Ben Lahm, Fr. SS/C Jake Parizo.

Top newcomers: Sr. P/1B Sotiraq Vangjeli, So. P/1B/OF Alden Schuman, Fr. P/1B/OF Adam Morrell.

Outlook: Pitching, which was expected to be a concern, is turning into the strength because of the development of newcomers Vangjeli, Schuman and Morrell. They join Smith and Lahm in the rotation and Hockford is really high on Meagher in center field and Parizo at shortstop. Hockford expects Williams, off to a 1-2 start, to contend for CISAC and SENE titles.

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments