ALL-RJ BASEBALL: A pitching parade with plenty of pop

MERIDEN — Given that the game has been with us for roughly three-quarters of our national existence, we launch our All-Record-Journal spring series this Independence Day with baseball.

Happy Fourth! Let’s play two. One more Platt-Maloney go-round at Ceppa. One more Sheehan-Lyman Hall clash at Pat Wall.

We’ll have to wait til next spring. 

For now, we put 2021 in the books. Coming off the lost season of 2020, our area teams enjoyed a collective 82-60 spring, including the postseason, which featured Lyman Hall’s Cinderella run to the Class L semifinals as a No. 22 seed.

Individually, guys who were JV in 2019 emerged as college-bound standouts two years later. We have a number of them on our All-RJ team.

We also have a few we already knew, “veterans” who had established themselves as varsity regulars as sophomores and freshmen.

Exhibit A: Cheshire shortstop Ryan Scialabba, who wrapped up a four-year varsity career with the Rams batting .475.

Scialabba was named to the All-SCC First Team in a conference that simply abounded with senior stars. Scialabba was oddly overlooked for the All-State Class LL team, but was invited to play in the CHSCA Senior All-Star Game.

Scialabba will continue his career at St. Anselm College, a Division II program in Manchester N.H. He is one of a number of All-RJ seniors going on to play in college

Maloney catcher Kam Hartenstein is heading to Division II Pace University in Purchase, N.Y. Hartenstein was named All-State Class L after a senior season that saw him bat .524 and get on base at a .619 clip.

One of the pitchers Hartenstein handled, All-Conference right-hander John Vumback, will launch his college career at UConn-Avery Point. The Maloney workhorse started nine games this spring, including against Notre Dame-West Haven in the Class L state tournarment, and finished 6-3.

Coach Ricky Marrero loved him. So did Meriden Legion coach Doug Wedge.

“If I could pick one guy to start the biggest game of our careers, it would be John Vumback,” said Marrero.

Lyman Hall’s Zach Ranney, a top Trojan in center field and on the mound, is ticketed for Division II Southern New Hampshire. Ranney batted .446 this spring, was 3-0 on the hill and earned a spot on the All-SCC Second Team.

Southington, which went a program-best 19-1 in the regular season, has three guys heading to Division I programs: Devan BadeDante D’Amore and Devin Pelletier. That’s three-quarters of the infield, plus roughly half the pitching rotation.

Pelletier just signed with Fairleigh Dickinson University. He batted .385 his season and was among the leading run producers with 12 stolen bases, 19 RBI and 29 runs scored.

Bade, 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA, batted a team-high .479 with three home runs and 14 RBI. He stole a team-high 16 bases and shared the team lead with Pelletier with 29 runs scored.

An All-State Class LL selection and the R-J’s 2021 Baseball Player of the Year, Bade is bound for SUNY-Binghamton.

D’Amore, who’s heading to Sacred Heart, was 6-1 with a 2.10 ERA in seven starts. His lone loss was to Connecticut Player of the Year Frank Mozzicato of East Catholic.

D’Amore was a terrific clutch hitter. He averaged .452 for the season, but with runners in scoring position he hit .533.

Not surprisingly, he led Southington in RBI with 27. D’Amore also clubbed four home runs.

Southington’s leading home run hitter was Jack McManus, who went yard six times, including in three straight games. McManus could also hit for average, batting .414 and scoring 21 runs.

There are two other are seniors who consistently brought their “A” game: Maloney’s Evan Avery and Sheehan’s Joe Amarone.

Both were shortstops and they put up remarkably similiar numbers. Amarone hit .357, drove in 12 runs and stole 16 bases. Avery hit .367, also drove in 12 and swiped 13 bags.

Avery was as sure-footed as it gets. Those 13 steals came in 13 attempts. Avery also pitched, going 3-1 in six appearances with a 3.04 ERA.

We bid those 10 All-RJ seniors farewell and look forward to seeing our eight All-RJ juniors next spring.

We could build quite a staff with them. All but one is a pitcher, and most established themselves as their team’s No. 1 this season.

Vincent Borghese may have been the underclassman on a high-profile senior staff at Southington, but he chalked up the most wins at 7-1. His ERA was 1.94 and opponents batted a scant .223 against him.

At season’s end, Borghese was chosen to play in the Junior Select Game.

So was Lyman Hall’s Justin Hackett. He batted .348 and compiled a 4-2 pitching record with 53 strikeouts. His signature game was in the Class L tourney: a three-hit shutout of No. 6 Fitch.

Fellow LH junior Tommy Pallotta also came up with crucial pitching performance in that postseason run. After North Haven had bolted to an early lead in the quarterfinals, Pallotta pitched six-plus innings of long relief as the Trojans rallied to victory.

Pallotta also had pop at the plate. He batted .333.

The same could be said of Platt’s two All-Conference juniors, right-hander Brandon Cahill and southpaw Ommy Velez

Cahill pitched in 10 of Platt’s 21 games. He started eight and finished 4-4. Offensively, Cahill hit .292 with seven doubles and 18 RBI.

Velez was Platt’s top hitter at .384 with a team-high 28 hits in 73 at-bats. Velez also blasted three home runs and drove in 22 runs. Both of those numbers were also team highs.

At the other end of Oregon Road, Wilcox Tech’s Jack McGovern turned in a junior season in which he batted .400 and notched four wins on the mound. Even though he was only a junior, McGovern was one of the Tribe’s most seasoned players, having started in 2019 as a freshman.

McGovern will be a Wilcox cornerstone for coach Dave Cronin again in 2022. Over at Sheehan, coach Dom Lombardozzi will no doubt structure his second season around returning All-SCC Second Team selections Chris Barkasy and Todd Grammatico.

Barkasy emerged as Sheehan’s most consistent hitter this spring. He raked at a .424 clip, including eight extra-base hits, and drove in 18 runs.

Barkasy also has wheels. He swiped 16 bases.

As for Grammatico, the right-hander was Sheehan’s ace of 2021. The Titans posted 11 victories and Grammatico had seven of them.

Grammatico signed off at 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA, striking out 34 and allowing just 39 hits in 45.2 innings.

Add it up and the 2021 All-RJ Baseball Team is a veritable pitching parade with plenty of fireworks in the bat rack. Perfect for the holiday. Perfect to lead us off.

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