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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    A couple of Bulldogs: Lyman Memorial baseball coach Marty Gomez has a trusted assistant in Mark Morello

    Marty Gomez, left, is in his 38th season as the head coach of the Lyman Memorial High School baseball team. The Bulldogs, who reached the championship game of the ECC Division II tournament Friday night, falling in eight innings, will open play in the Class S state tournament on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Thomas J. Nanos)
    Lyman Memorial girls’ soccer coach Mark Morello, second from left, has also been the longtime junior varsity baseball coach at the school under head coach Marty Gomez, who Morello has known since being hired to teach at the school in 1987. (Photo courtesy of Thomas J. Nanos)

    Lebanon — Coaching partnerships can make or break a program, and in the case of Marty Gomez and Mark Morello at Lyman Memorial High School, it’s one that goes back decades.

    Gomez, the head coach of the baseball team for 38 years, has had Morello as his assistant for almost half of those, dating to 1989.

    “I just feel like I'm so blessed to come to Lebanon,” Gomez said. “I've had so much support over the years, (including) my assistant coaches, and Mark has been such a deep-rooted part of (the) success with our program.”

    The Bulldogs are 17-6 and the No. 8 seed in the upcoming Class S state tournament, scheduled to open with a home game Tuesday against No. 25 Old Saybrook. On Friday, Lyman lost the championship of the Division II Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament against Stonington, 3-2 in eight innings.

    Part of the foundation of that success comes from the partnership of Gomez and Morello, whose friendship began when Morello was hired at Lyman Memorial in 1987 as a social studies teacher, Gomez’s third year at the school and second as head coach.

    “Marty has been a loyal friend and mentor as a coach for decades,” said Morello, who in addition to being the junior varsity coach also primarily helps mentor the varsity outfielders. “The way he goes about doing things both on and off the field is something I’ve tried to emulate.”

    Gomez, who taught PE at both Lyman Memorial and Lebanon Middle School until retiring recently, and Morello have an “old school” outlook when it comes to coaching. That shared philosophy was why Gomez brought Morello on his staff in 1989.

    “I didn’t know (at the time) that this job would not only impact my life greatly but gain me a lifelong loyal friend,” said Morello, who had been the JV baseball coach at RHAM High School previously.

    Both Gomez and Morello have also found success in other sports, proving that coaching the sport the right way will pay off no matter what is being played.

    Morello just completed his 35th season as the Lyman girls’ soccer coach, and led the Bulldogs to the Class S semifinal game for the second straight season (Lyman made it to the Class S final in 2022, losing 1-0 to East Catholic. It was Morello’s first appearance in the finals). Gomez won a Class S state championship with the volleyball team in 2016, in addition to the three trips he’s made to the Class S baseball final (1993, 1995, 2017).

    Gomez said Morello is just the person he needs to take care of his junior varsity players and get them ready to make the next step onto varsity.

    “I am grateful for all his hard work and dedication over the years,” Gomez said, “and I am very proud of how far he has come.”

    Morello recalled the 1989 season when the Bulldogs had to win one more game to make the state tournament for the first time in Gomez’s career. Up against them stood Griswold, a team that had earlier beaten Lyman 22-0.

    It was make-or-break time and Lyman delivered, winning a close game to reach the state tournament.

    “The pig-pile at the mound … it was like winning the World Series,” Morello said.

    Morello stepped down as Gomez’s assistant in 1998, but returned nearly 20 years later and the duo have been together ever since.

    “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else,” Gomez said. “I’m blessed.”

    Occasionally, The Day will publish sports stories by local high school journalists. Addison Perry is a freshman at Lyman Memorial High School. She says she’s always liked to write and recently was given the title of Chief Editor for the school newspaper, the Bulldog. Perry, of Lebanon, played volleyball in the fall and plans to continue participating in chorus and the yearly musical. In March, she played the role of Adella, one of the Mersisters, in Lyman's production of “Little Mermaid.”

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