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    Monday, May 29, 2023

    H.S. baseball preview capsules

    Fitch High School’s Trace Morales, who was named MVP after helping the Falcons win the 2022 ECC tournament championship, returns to lead the team this spring. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Following are the 2023 H.S. baseball preview capsules:


    East Lyme

    Head coach: Jack Biggs (18th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OF-P John Bureau, Sr. IF Blake Biggs, Sr. IF-P Gavin O’Brien, Sr. C Quinn Killoy, Sr. IF Owen Elmer Sr. IF Joey Wainright, Sr. IF Pete Sherwood, Sr. P Kevin Filewich, Sr. P-IF Nathan O’Neil, Jr. P Alex Salerno, Jr. OF Liam Cochrane, Jr. P-OF Alex Dreyfus, Jr. C A.J. Montejano, Jr. P-OF Connor Tukey.

    Top newcomer: Sr. P-IF Joe Stawski.

    Outlook: This could be a big season for the Vikings, who return their entire roster from a team that went 10-9 in the regular season before reaching the Class L quarterfinals behind all-state pitcher O’Brien. Biggs hopes East Lyme’s pitching depth will lead to success in the conference and at the state level.


    Head coach: Dave Hall (1st season)

    Key returnees: Jr. P-IF Trace Morales, Jr. SS Donte Valentine, Sr. P-1B Dylan Meyer, Sr. P-1B Jack Ballou, Sr. OF Isaiah Anderson.

    Top newcomers: Jr. C Nate Wagner, Sr. IF Isaac Frank, So. OF Dom Zuliani, So. P-OF Griffin Pollard, So. C Tommy Rogers, Sr. OF Mikey Wagner, Jr. P-OF Vinny Morabito.

    Outlook: The Falcons went 16-4 a year ago, winning the Division I title and capturing the ECC tournament championship. They graduated 11 seniors, including all-state players Cam McGugan (catcher) and Matt Robinson (SS). Head coach Brian McGugan also stepped down, but Hall returns some key pieces: Morales was MVP of the ECC tournament last spring and Meyer blanked Killingly in the title game. “We look to compete in our conference and make a solid run in the state tournament,” Hall said.


    Head coach: Anthony Turgeon (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. 1B Ethan Heinsz, Jr. P-OF Daniel St. George, Jr. C Connor Doyle, Jr. OF Chris Southworth, So. SS Jonas Tiburcio.

    Top newcomers: Jr. P-IF Ayden Kempesta, So. OF Logan Deshefy, So. C-IF Connor Caulfield, So. P-IF Avery Guernsey, Fr. OF Ryan Cleary.

    Outlook: The Wildcats went 6-14 a year ago and expect to be more competitive this spring with a solid mix of experience and youth. Heinsz was an honorable mention All-ECC pick in 2022. “We have a great group of players who are working on learning the game and competing every day,” Turgeon said.


    Head coach: Art Peluso (13th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OF-P Anthony Jessuck, Sr. IF Brian Ingraham, Sr. P-OF Matthew Reilly, Sr. P-OF Matthew Ory, Sr. OF Matthew Uguccioni, Jr. OF-C Quinn Speller, Jr. IF-P Roberto Kiefer, Jr. UT Zachary Ruest.

    Top newcomers: Jr. 1B-C Chase Linski, Jr. IF Harley Mish, Jr. P-OF Peter Stchur, Jr. P Caleb Turner, So. C-1B Max Petrini, So. P-IF Matthew Shampine (So./P/IF), So. IF-P Lucas Saunders, So. IF-P Dylan Matis.

    Outlook: The Lancers are coming off a 13-7 regular season and a trip to the Class M quarterfinals but suffered some big graduation losses, including all-state first baseman Evan McCue. Peluso said young players will definitely be competing for starting roles and is excited to see how the season progresses. “How we react to the ups and downs of the season will determine the amount of success we will have,” he said.


    Bacon Academy

    Head coach: Jerry Mitchell (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P Josh Ambrose, Sr. P Jacob Ambrose, Sr. C A.J. Blanchette, Sr. 2B Steven Laliberte, Sr. CF-SS James Gumbs, Sr. SS-P Chris Lusignan, So. 3B-P Mason Pingree, So. C-1B A.J. O’Neill.

    Top newcomers: So. C-1B Eli Chiaverini. Jr. OF-IF Andrew Ferrigno.

    Outlook: The Bobcats, who won the Division II title a year ago, finishing 16-3 during the regular season, must replace all-state P-IF Jack Novak. Bacon does return a pair of ECC all-stars in Blanchette and Laliberte and has a strong, deep pitching staff led by the Ambrose twins. Mitchell expects the Bobcats to be in the thick of the division race again.


    Head coach: George Rivera (2nd season)

    Key returnees: C-1B William Clapper, IF-P Ethan Petrowski, IF-OF Cam Weber.

    Top newcomers: IF Johabian Perciado, C Lou Anaya, P-OF Calvin Casavant, IF Jack Leaf, OF Tyler Spinner, IF Eammon Pelletier.

    Outlook: The Colonels must replace six starters after going 9-11 and reaching the second round of the Class M state tournament. Ledyard has only two seniors, so 2023 will be a work in progress. “We have a young pitching staff that will hopefully get better as the season unfolds,” Rivera said.

    New London

    Head coach: Matt Greene (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P-IF Derrel Mitchell, Sr. CF-IF Isaiah Plaza, Sr. P-3B Chris Mennino, Jr. 2B-SS Darius Aquino, Jr. 1B Henry Santana-Liriano, Jr. OF-C-P Landon Hill, So. C-P-SS Eddie Torres.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OF Ruben Rivera-Rosado, Sr. PR Kanye Nance, Jr. OF Jairo Ruiz Jr., Jr. 3B-OF-P Jorge Rodriguez, Jr. OF Christian Irizarry, So. C-OF-1B Calvin Sebastian, Fr. OF-2B Jacoby LaFleur.

    Outlook: The Whalers went 9-9 a year ago, qualifying for both the ECC and Class L state tournaments, and return most of the key pieces from that team. Mitchell was an ECC all-star and Class L all-state pick while Plaza and Torres were All-ECC honorable mention choices. “We have a lot of returning talent mixed with talented but inexperienced players.” Greene said.

    Note: Division II includes Windham and Woodstock Academy.



    Head coach: Bill Kane (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OF Corey Smith, Sr. OF Logan Davis, Jr. SS-P Sean Garvin, Jr. 3B-P Colin Mitchell, Jr. OF-2B Kade Rubino, So. C-P Drew Hardin.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OF Lucas Strain, So. OF-3B Calvin Oddo, So. 1B-P Sam Gilgenbach, So. 2B Jake Duthrie.

    Outlook: Kane continues to rebuild the program after going 7-13 a year ago. The Wolverines are still young, led by returning ECC all-star Rubino, and Kane said he “hopes to put together a positive season with our junior group leading the way.”


    Head coach: Scott Chiasson (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Jr. P-1B Cole Terni, Sr. IF Anthony Martin, So. C Ryley Beyer, So. 3B Luke Chapman, So. 2B Aidan Johnson.

    Top newcomers: Fr. 1B Jack Treat, Fr. CF Hunter Sylvia.

    Outlook: Montville, which moved down from Division II, continues to rebuild under Chiasson after losing a number of key players, including all-state shortstop Chas Terni. Chiasson said only six players return in the entire program. He has welcomed 11 freshmen and expects five or six will contribute immediately. “We hope to string enough wins together to return to the state tournament after a one-year hiatus,” Chiasson said.


    Head coach: Bob Cahoone (9th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. IF Alex Starr, Sr. P David Duguay, Jr. OF Dylan Cimini, Jr. IF Aaron LoPresto, So. OF Finn Eck, So. IF Nick Cannella, So. IF Jace Wolfradt.

    Top newcomers: Jr. IF Alex DePerry, Sr. OF Noah Christina, Jr. C Austin Linicus.

    Outlook: The Bears finished second behind Killingly in the division last season and qualified for the Class M state tournament. They return a pair of ECC all-stars in Starr and LoPresto, so contending for a division title is a realistic goal. “This year we have a lot of potential,” Cahoone said. “If we all by in and play together, we should have a very successful year.”

    Note: Division III includes Killingly and Plainfield.


    Lyman Memorial

    Head coach: Marty Gomez (37th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. SS Mike Incontro, Sr. P-3B Ben Darrow, Sr. OF Nate Cone, Sr. 2B-3B Jacob Citro, Jr. P-1B Alex Ortiz, Jr. C-3B-P Jared Russo, Jr. OF Jeremiah Bobbi, So. IF-C-P Nick Chalifoux.

    Top newcomers: Jr. P-1B Dominic Pontbriant, Jr. P-IF-OF Aiden Zimnock, Jr. OF Hunter Sanchez, So, P-1B Owen Masse, So. 2B-OF Isaac Cone.

    Outlook: The Bulldogs had a perfect run in winning the Division IV title a year ago and return ECC all-stars Incontro, Russo and Bobbi from a team that won 16 games while reaching the ECC tournament semifinals and second round of the Class S tournament. All-state pitcher Joshua Person graduated, but Lyman still has good pitching depth and should contend for another division title and be competitive in the postseason.

    St. Bernard

    Head coach: Grant Livingston (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. C Joe Basso, Sr. UT-P Ethan Chavez, Sr. OF Luca Muscarella, Sr. P Ryan Ziegler, Jr. UT Martin Light, Jr. IF Bryce Morrissette, Jr. UT Colin O’Leary, Jr. UT Chris Tonucci.

    Top newcomers: Sr. P-UT Zion Fraser, Fr. P Desmond Powers, Fr. UT Brian Lowe.

    Outlook: The Saints went 10-9 and were beaten by eventual Class S champion St. Paul 3-1 in the second round of the state tournament. They return all-state catcher Basso and welcome all-state pitcher Fraser, a Ledyard transfer. “This team has set their sights high and right so,” Livingston said. “They have worked extremely hard to earn continued success.”


    Head coach: Eric Collins (8th season)

    Key returnees: So. 2B-P Garrett Lenihan, Jr. SS-P Kyle Kessler, Jr. 3B-P Bradin Anderson, So. C-P Mason Perkins, Jr. P-1B Sean Bergel, So. OF-P James Main, Jr. OF Jon Anderson, Jr. OF Deondre Bransford, Jr. OF Wyatt Elliot, So. 1B-OF Noah Klewin.

    Top newcomer: Fr. OF James Noyes.

    Outlook: The Lions went 6-12 last season, missing out on a Class S tournament bid, but return all but one starter, including ECC all-stars Kessler and Main. “Our first goal is to make the playoffs,” Collins said. “We also think we can have a competitive shot at a division title.”

    Note: Division IV includes Putnam and Tourtellotte.


    Grasso Tech

    Head coach: Jonathan Grossman (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. SS Tito Arias, Sr. OF-P Gabriel Castillo, Sr. 1B Mychal Dole, So. P-1B Gabriel Grossman, Sr. OF-P Reynoldo Hidalgo, Sr. 2B-P Derek Kennedy, Sr. OF Jayden Lalumandier, Sr. 3B-P Jesus Sanchez, Sr. C Jaivon Velez, So. OF-P Reis Whitfield.

    Top newcomers: Sr. 1B-P Almando Aguirre, So. 3B Yancarlos De La Cruz-Nieves, So. 3B-P P.J. Evans, So. 2B Daniel Lindy.

    Outlook: The Eagles continue to make strides as a program, going 9-7 last year and winning a game in the Class M state tournament. Grasso Tech returns a veteran lineup that should contend in the Connecticut Technical Conference East. “We will work hard and climb the steps to make an imprint on the CTC,” Grossman said.

    Norwich Tech

    Head coach: John Spillane (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. C Josh Hanks, Sr. P-OF Zack Shifflett, Jr. 1B Logan Spillane, So. SS Collin Schulze.

    Top newcomers: Fr. P-SS Aiden Winton, Fr. P-3B Cole Arnio, Fr. SS-CF Antonio Durand, Fr. 2B Derek Barber, Fr. C Dillan Coats.

    Outlook: Hanks, the captain, leads the Warriors, who went 13-7 and qualified for the Class M state tournament in Spillane’s first season as head coach. Norwich Tech has a strong senior class, but Spillane said, “There are a slew of freshmen and other 10th-graders that could make this a very exciting season.”

    Old Lyme

    Head coach: Phil Cohen (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Jr. SS-P Grady Lacourciere, Sr. CF David Evers, Sr. P-3B Santiago Rodriguez, Sr. C-P Casey Hurtgen, Jr. OF-IF-P Jack Porter, Jr. 1B Owen Snurkowski.

    Top newcomers: So. 2B-P Ben Frazier, Jr. OF-P Jordan Hanes, Fr. 3B Rowen Meisner, Fr. OF Jackson Pannier.

    Outlook: The Wildcats qualified for the Shoreline Conference tournament and reached the Class S quarterfinals in Cohen’s first season but graduated five senior starters. Old Lyme does return seven varsity players, so Cohen has high hopes for another successful season.

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