2019 H.S. baseball preview capsules

ECC DIVISION I

East Lyme

Coach: Jack Biggs (14th season)

Key returnees: Sr. P-OF Luke Leonard, Sr. P-OF Tom Mason, Sr. IF Eric Patterson, Sr. IF Drew Menghi, Jr. IF Chris Malcom, Jr. P-IF Trystan Levesque, Jr. P-OF Owen Robbins, Jr. IF Joey Grubb, Jr. P-OF Nolan Connolly, Jr. P Dan Allard.

Top newcomers: Sr. DH Jake Schelkly, Sr. P Tristan Smith, Sr. P Dan Sullivan, Jr. C Josh Welsh, Jr. C Ethan Toback, Jr. P Ashton Fontaine, Jr. P-IF Alec Elmer, Jr. IF Alex Fraser, Jr. P-IF Corey Fillewich.

Outlook: The Vikings, who went 14-11 a year ago, are the reigning Division I and ECC tournament champions who return three ECC all-stars in Leonard, Malcom and Mason. Biggs will sprinkle in some new faces this spring, so there will be an early maturation process, but the pitching and defense looks solid and will help East Lyme remain a factor in the conference again.

Fitch

Coach: Brian McGugan (2nd season)

Key returnees: Sr. P-C-IF Tyler Nelli, Sr. P-OF Nick Helbig, Sr. P-IF Manish Rene-Castrodad, Sr. P Tom Taber, Sr. P-OF Shemus McLean, Sr. OF Tyler Cady, Sr. OF Joe Vignato, Jr. IF Giovanni Valentine, So. P Ramiro Zavala.

Top newcomers: Sr. P-OF-IF Tommy Wanger, Sr. P Sam Heilig, Jr. P Max Grossman, So. IF Alex DelCampo, Fr. C-IF Cam McGugan, Fr. C Tate Scherer, Fr. IF-OF Colin Anderson.

Outlook: The Falcons had a solid first season under McGugan, finishing 13-7 during the regular season, and 2019 could be even stronger for Fitch, which returns a veteran cast with great senior leadership and good pitching depth. Valentine was a member of The Day's All-Area team and a Division I all-star along with Nelli, and McGugan said there has been great preseason competition for starting jobs, particularly at first and third base.

Norwich Free Academy

Coach: Luke Gabordi (6th season)

Key returnees: Sr. OF-P Vinny Gualtieri, Sr. P Ian Small, Sr. OF-P Nick Gallivan, Sr. Utility Kevin Pomroy, Sr. C Jon Synott, Sr. OF Ryan King, Sr. 1B Jack Espinoza, Sr. Utility Becker Bordeau, Sr. P Grafton Angevine, Jr. P0-IF Brenton Trask.

Top newcomers: Sr. IF Aaron Penney, Sr. P-Util. Jaisyn Bulkley, Jr. OF Dan Eggler, Jr. Utility Austin Drabinski, Jr. IF Dominic Morabito, Jr. C Riley Burke, So. Utility Ryan Deshefy, So. P-1B Daniel Blair, So. P-OF Brian Miskiewicz.

Outlook: A brutal non-conference schedule, which included competitive losses to Darien, Bristol Eastern, Xavier, East Catholic, Southington and Amity, led to a deceiving 7-13 in 2018, but the Wildcats have the pieces to place to return to the postseason this spring. Small and Gualtieri are returning ECC all-stars for NFA. Gabordi loves the Wildcats' versatility and expects NFA to compete for the Division I title and make some noise in the Class LL state tournament.

Waterford

Coach: Art Peluso (9th season)

Key returnees: Sr. OF Sonny Pezzello, Sr. 1B-C Cadin Maynard, Sr. P-OF-1B Liam Spellman, Sr. OF Ben Podeszwa, Sr. OF-P Nathan Landon, Jr. P-SS Jared Burrows, Jr. C-IF Ben Jerome, Jr. P Ryan O'Connell, Jr. P-OF Payton Sutman.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Luke Sokolski, Jr. IF Ryan Bakken, Jr. IF Liam Kane, Jr. IF Anthony Tonucci, Jr. OF Trey Brennan, Jr. IF Matthew Sanford, Jr. OF-P Robert Zawacki.

Outlook: The Lancers went 18-6 a year ago, losing in the ECC tournament final to rival East Lyme, and move up to Division I this spring in the ECC's newly-realigned divisions. Waterford must replace The Day's All-Area Player of the Year Mike Burrows, now pitching in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, and pitcher Walker Sutman, now attending Division I Fairfield, but there is still plenty of returning talent to make the Lancers dangerous in the division and in the Class L state tournament. Pitching depth and defense are two strengths, according to Peluso.

 

ECC DIVISION II

Ledyard

Coach: Scott Chiasson (5th season)

Key returnees: Sr. P Ken Turner, Sr. P Cade Walters, Sr. CF James Laconico, Sr. C Weston Bruce, Sr. P Pat Bora, Sr. P Napoleon Dreyfus, Sr. DH Riley Gagnon, Jr. IF Elijah Morton, Jr. RF Robbie Petriel, Jr. P Tyler Perkins.

Top newcomer: Sr. IF Peter Kiefer.

Outlook: Expectations are high for the Colonels, who went 16-11 in 2018 and reached the Class M semifinals. Ledyard returns six starters and a pitching staff that has combined for 29 career wins and went 13-4 last season with a 1.65 ERA. Turner, who will pitch at Div. I Hartford next season, and Laconico, were members of The Day's All-Area team last year. Laconico and Bruce will be dangerous bats in Ledyard's lineup. The Colonels, after competing in Division I last season, move down to the ECC's new Division II this spring and will be joined by New London, Bacon Academy, Killingly and Woodstock.

New London

Coach: Jon Mikula (3rd season)

Key returnees: Sr. O-IF Robert Otanez, Jr. OF-IF Noah James, Sr. P-IF Zane Mikula, So. P Luis Diaz, So. C-IF Kenny Miller, Sr. IF Connor Surprenant.

Top newcomers: Jr. P-IF Jesus Escarraman, Jr. IF Giovani Galatioto, So. P-IF Ryan Gardner, So. IF-OF Anthony Germoso, So. OF Courtney Hamilton, So. OF-IF Garret Matson, Jr. OF Jatheon Nazario, Fr. OF-IF Sean Raymond, Jr. P-IF Gerjuan Tyus, Sr. P Elijah Goode.

Outlook: The Whalers are coming off a 10-10 regular season in 2018 and must replace Elijah Martinez, an All-Area infielder, among others. But Zane Mikula was an ECC Division I all-star who will help lead New London in the new Division II setup this spring. "The players have been working hard and having fun while do so," Jon Mikula said. "As we gain experience, I think we can become a good team."

 

ECC DIVISION III

Montville

Coach: Stephen Stonoha (4th season)

Key returnees: Sr. C Ryan Champagne, So. P-IF Griffin Pontbriant, Jr. P-IF Rob DelaCruz, Jr. P-IF Colby Miner, Sr. IF Nick Calash, Sr. Ken Heon, Sr. Keaton Sulman.

Top newcomers: Fr. Utility Chas Terni.

Outlook: The Indians went 16-7 a year ago and reached the second round of the Class M state tournament. They join St. Bernard, Stonington, Lyman Memorial and Plainfield in the ECC's new Division III setup and should compete for a division title. Champagne, a four-year starter closing in on 100 career hits, returns behind the plate. He was an ECC Division II all-star a year ago along with DelaCruz and Pontbriant, who became Montville's ace as freshman and was selected to The Day's All-Area team.

St. Bernard

Coach: George Rivera (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. OF-2B Sam Davis, Sr. P Max Adams, Sr. 3B Cole Potts, Jr. P-1B Tucker Freeman, Jr. C Chris Watrous, So. P-SS-2B Connor Ullrich, Jr. P-OF Jake Morrell.

Top newcomers: Sr. C Kevin Faye, Sr. OF James Light, So. OF Walker Baillargeon.

Outlook: The Saints welcome back five starters from a team that went 12-12 a year ago and reached the Class S state tournament second round. Rivera believes St. Bernard will be solid defensively and has a strong pitching staff, but must improved offensively as the season progresses to be a factor in the Division III race.

Stonington

Coach: Bob Cahoone (4th season)

Key returnees: Jr. C Peter Fernholz, Jr. 1B Jake Verbridge, Jr. 2B Sam Casadi.

Top newcomers: So. P Creighton Wesson, So. P-IF Drew Champagne.

Outlook: The Bears, coming off an 8-12 regular season, will be young this spring after losing some key players, including All-Area outfielder Kevin Ferrer, now playing at UConn. With little varsity experience, Cahoone said the goal is "to try and improve each week. Hopefully our pitching and defense can keep us in ballgames."

 

ECC DIVISION IV

Wheeler

Coach: Eric Collins (4th season)

Key returnees: Jr. P-1B Bowen Baker, Jr. C Aiden Cameron, Jr. P-CF Justin Veal, Jr. IF Conner Melinosky, So. P-IF Lucas Jones.

Outlook: The Lions went 7-13 a year ago, just missing out on a postseason berth. They will be young this season, but do return some good talent led by Baker, an ECC Division III all-star in 2018, and Cameron. "I see us improving," Collins said, "and having a chance to make a run at the playoffs because we do have a veteran pitching staff and a veteran behind the plate." Wheeler is part of the newly realigned ECC Div. IV with Griswold, Putnam, Tourtellotte and Windham.

 

OTHERS

Grasso Tech

Coach: Carlos Flores (9th season)

Key returnees: Jr. SS-P Robert Holland, Sr. 1B-P Isaac Lathrop. Sr. 3B-P Nathan Marceau.

Top newcomers: So. IF Derek Nunez, Fr. IF Randy Vidal.

Outlook: The Eagles return six starters from a 2-14 team and Flores believes Grasso Tech is capable of qualifying for the Connecticut Technical Conference tournament. Holland, Lathrop and Marceau will anchor a solid pitching staff and provide leadership.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Russ Stockton (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. Bryce Doyle Cather, Sr. SS-P Brandon Mayersohn, Sr. CF Devin Schnatter, Jr. 3B Kadin Ducot, 1B-P David Wyatt, LF Owen Traylor, Jr. Utility Anthony Ladouceur.

Top newcomers: Fr. 2B Chace Davidson, Utility Camren Topkin.

Outlook: Stockton takes over a program that went 11-9 a year ago. The Warriors will be young this spring, but Stockton is confident Norwich Tech will remain competitive within the Connecticut Technical Conference as well as against its non-conference schedule.

Old Lyme

Coach: Randy St. Germain (16th season)

Key returnees: Sr. CF-P Liam Holloway, Sr. 2B Eli St. Germain, Jr. C Liam Flanagan, Jr. 3B-P Dan Kendall, Sr. 1B Zander Riggs.

Top newcomers: So. P-IF Tait Sawden, So. SS Colbe Andrews, Jr. P Jack Carney, Sr. OF Jacob Curtis, Sr. OF Ethan Tracano, Sr. OF Jesper Silberberg, So. OF Nate Ramella, Jr. OF Jon Hamilton.

Outlook: The Wildcats were gutted by graduation, losing seven starters and their entire pitching staff from a team that went 13-7 during the regular season and lost to eventual state champion Notre Dame of Fairfield in the Class S second round. Holloway, Carney and Sawden will lead a young pitching staff into the Shoreline Conference. "I like the make-up of the kids," St. Germain said, "and the fact that they don't know what they don't know yet helps in this game. If our pitcher throw strikes we we pick the ball up we should be okay."

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