Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chase Collegiate School to start fall season in mid-September

While most CIAC fall sports teams begin their seasons next week, Chase Collegiate School will be waiting until the middle of September to get going.
The Highlander varsity teams open on Wednesday, Sept. 14 with cross country and boys soccer at home. Girls soccer and girls volleyball are on the road.
Here's the schedule:

Boys Cross Country vs. Cheshire Academy, Hamden Hall Country Day School, Watkinson and Williams -- Montoe Park
Girls Cross Country vs. Cheshire Academy, Hamden Hall Country Day School, Watkinson and Williams -- Montoe Park
Boys Soccer vs. Wooster School, 3:45 p.m.
Girls Soccer at Wooster School (Danbury), 3:45 p.m.
Girls Volleyball at Wooster School, 3:45 p.m.

Chase boys soccer will see how it fares against the rest of Waterbury on Saturday at the city jamboree at Ray Snyder Sr. Field (Municipal Stadium).

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Connor Fitzsimons has a hit in each of last two games

It has been a struggle at the plate for former Bristol Eastern standout Connor Fitzsimons in the Arizona League.
Fitzsimons has split time with two other catchers on the Angels roster and has played in 11 games. Going into a Aug. 16 contest against the Diamondbacks, he had one hit. In each of his last two games (the other was Aug. 24 against the Cubs), however, Fitzsimons has had one hit, increasing his total to three.
Behind the plate, Fitzsimons has thrown out three baserunners. Fitzsimons, who has always been a strong defensive catcher, has started seven of the 11 games he has played in.

FOOTBALL: Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech, Holy Cross doing well in preseason

It's the preseason, so you must take these high school football scrimmages with a giant grain of salt.
Still, Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech had to have liked what it saw in a 28-7 win over a Fitch team that is expected to keep improving under second-year head coach Mike Ellis Jr. The Falcons were an ugly 0-11 in 2014, but got back to .500 at 5-5 last year.

"Football takes down Fitch 28-7 in scrimmage today. #cthsfb" -- Kaynor Tech athletics Twitter account

"Great football scrimmage today at Fitch. #goHearts #cthsfb -- Sacred Heart athletics Twitter account
Coaches address the Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech football team after Monday's
scrimmage at Fitch. (photo credit: Sacred Heart athletics Twitter account)
Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech is scheduled to host Coginchaug Regional on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Ray Snyder Sr. Field (Municipal Stadium). The co-op opens the regular season against St. Paul Catholic on Friday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in Bristol.

Holy Cross
Another Waterbury team feeling good about itself in the preseason is Holy Cross. The Crusaders have gone up against aforementioned Coginchaug and Watertown.

Great Pre-Season so far with good showings in controlled practices/scrimmages v. Coginchaug and Watertown.
Big test Thursday in the final game scrimmage at home against the Hillhouse Academics. Kickoff at Alumni Field set for 5pm 🏈 #HCFootball#CrusaderPride

-- Holy Cross Football Facebook page

That Thursday scrimmage is against a team that some media are calling a favorite in Class M this season. A headline on GameTimeCT reads: "SCC Football 2016: Hillhouse has all the tools for state championship run".

According to the GameTimeCT preview from Mike Pucci, the Academics return their entire starting backfield and some tall receivers. This will indeed be a challenge for Holy Cross, which will play in a game-like situation on Alumni Field for the first time Thursday. That is sure to have the Crusaders amped up.

Holy Cross officially opens Alumni Field on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. against Kennedy.

Other upcoming scrimmages
Thursday, Sept. 1
St. Paul Catholic at Wolcott, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 2
Bristol Eastern at Northwest Catholic, 3:45 p.m.
Waterbury Jamboree, 4 p.m. (Jimmy Lee Stadium) -- all city schools except Holy Cross and Chase Collegiate (no football team)

NOTE: Those are just what is listed on the CIAC football master schedule.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Matt Blandino gets first win

He may not have piled up the strikeouts in his most recent start, but Matt Blandino picked up something more rewarding...his first win.
Blandino threw 5.2 innings for the Arizona League Reds against the White Sox on Aug. 25. The former Bristol Central standout gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits, struck out three and walked one on the way to his first professional victory. The Reds won the game 9-3.
For the season, Blandino is 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA. He has struck out 30 in 31.1 innings of work.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech football to wear Guardian Cap concussion protection gear

There's now another area football team sporting head gear to try to prevent concussions.
"Hoping to reduce the probability of concussions, football will be wearing Guardian Caps this season," read a post on the Sacred Heart athletics Twitter account.
Here's what they look like:
A photo of the Guardian Caps the Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech football team
will be wearing this fall. (Photo via Sacred Heart athletics Twitter account)
What is the Guardian Cap?

It's a soft shell helmet designed for impact reduction. Guardian Cap claims the soft shell reduces impact by 33 percent. When it comes to concussions, any extra protection is better, but not an incentive to be reckless. As Guardian Cap puts it on its website:


*No helmet, practice apparatus, or helmet pad can prevent or eliminate the risk of concussions or other serious head injuries while playing sports. Researchers have not reached an agreement on how the results of impact absorption tests relate to concussions. No conclusions about a reduction of risk or severity of concussive injury should be drawn from impact absorption tests."

Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech is the second local team I know of to use the Guardian Cap. St. Paul Catholic has also used Guardian Caps. If you saw a Falcon football helmet last season, it was pretty easy to notice the black padding on top of the blue St. Paul helmet. Here's what I mean:
St. Paul Catholic wore the Guardian Cap last season. (Kevin Roberts photo)
It's good to see that safety is taken into account in football, and seeing Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech adopt the Guardian Cap is awesome. Safety is more important than the look of a logo on a helmet.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Busy day in Bristol on Thursday

I was in Bristol on Thursday, so I figured I'd make the rounds at St. Paul, Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central.
At St. Paul, the boys soccer team, led by new head coach Joseph Abele, was at work. 
St. Paul boys soccer is looking to get back to the NVL and state tournaments under
new head coach Joseph Abele.
Abele will be trying to lead the Falcons back to the state tournament after Tony Leone guided them to a No. 9 seed in Class S. St. Paul was knocked out in the second round by No. 8 Somers.
Speaking of putting in work, the St. Paul football linemen were down in their corner of the Falcon athletic facility getting ready for the upcoming season.
Up on the hill past the softball field, veteran head coach Jude Kelly was working on pass plays such as the fade and the slant. Here's one of those plays in action:
St. Paul quarterback Jake Lafferty lets it fly.
After St. Paul, it was off to Bristol Eastern to check out the turf project. I had to do some reading up this morning on turf projects to really get a sense of what was going on. The subgrading has been done at Eastern, and stone is being laid down. Here's some of that work in progress:
A truck drives away at the Bristol Eastern turf project.
Of course, if I go to check out Bristol Eastern, I will also go to Bristol Central. It's only fair, after all. Central is a little further along. Again, here's where the light reading I did this morning helps. There appears to be a border installed around where the turf field would be. On the FieldTurf website (Turco Golf Inc. is responsible for the turf projects in Bristol, by the way), it says perimeter curbs are installed after field excavation and subgrading are finished.
The aforementioned "border" at the Bristol Central turf project,
which seems to be moving right along.
With the turf projects, I am trying to do some photo updates every few weeks, so stay tuned!

I put together several albums on Facebook, and here are the links:

St. Paul boys soccer: go here
St. Paul football: here and here
Bristol Eastern turf project: go here
Bristol Central turf project: go here


Holy Cross football coaches current and former get together today at Coginchaug scrimmage

In the high school football preseason, it's common for coaches to schedule scrimmages against teams where their former coach is now working.
When Holy Cross and Coginchaug Regional get together today at 3:45 p.m. in Durham, the coaching staffs will be very familiar with each other. Steve Croce, the new head coach of Coginchaug, was the offensive coordinator for a slew of prolific Holy Cross teams from 2001-2007. That stretch including a 2006 state championship, where Steve's son Mike was the quarterback. Steve Croce was also offensive coordinator at Pomperaug and Cheshire.
Looking back at that 2006 Holy Cross team, Mike Phelan was the head coach. Mike Giampetruzzi, the current head coach of the Crusaders, was on the staff, along with assistant coach Mike Mannetti and Croce.
To say the least, these guys know each other. The main goal of today's scrimmage is for Holy Cross to get better. Along the way, Croce and the Crusaders will more than likely catch up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bristol Knights, CTL teammates lose pitchers' duel to Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League

The Connecticut and Greater Hartford twilight baseball leagues hooked up for a terrific pitchers' duel on Monday night at East Hartford's McKenna Field.
When it was all over, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League scored a 1-0 win over the Connecticut Twilight League. Not only that, GHTBL pitchers combined for a no-hitter.
It's not like the pitching was absent on CTL's side.
"Pitching was fantastic," read a blog post on the CTL website. "Bryant Morander, Devin Over, Zach Cloft and Marco Ross (Bristol Knights) threw fantastic."
The offense, not so much.
"Lots of opportunities but no hits," the post read.
Bristol was represented by Ross, Eddie Dickman, Brian LaRochelle, Chris McGrath and Julio Ortiz-Rivera. Scott Dickens served as a coach and chief photographer, of course.
Here's his photo of the Knight players before the game.
Five Bristol Knights stand with their Connecticut Twilight League teammates
before Monday's all-star game against the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League.
(Photo credit Scott Dickens, Bristol Knights/CTL)

It was the second annual all-star game between the two leagues. 

To see all of Dickens' great photos, go here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Waterbury native Ryan Gomes now an assistant coach in D-League

Former Wilby and Providence basketball star Ryan Gomes has a new title -- assistant coach.
Ryan Gomes, courtesy of the
Los Angeles D-fenders website
 The Long Island Nets announced that Gomes and Pat Rafferty will be assistants to head coach Ronald Nored in a press release today. The Long Island Nets are the Brooklyn Nets' NBA D-League affiliate. This will be the first season for the Long Island version.
Gomes will be making the transition from D-League player to D-League coach. He spent eight seasons in the NBA, but his last as a professional was in 2015-2016 with the Los Angeles D-fenders. Gomes was a midseason acquisition, and he paid dividends for the D-fenders. The Waterbury native earned Third Team All-D-League and Impact Player of the Year honors. Gomes and the D-fenders nearly won a D-League title, but were thwarted by the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Gomes averaged 18.2 points and 9.1 rebounds for the D-fenders.
Switching over from player to coach will be a transition, but one Gomes can surely make. He was always a smart player, and he will provide valuable knowledge to the young players in the D-League who are trying to where he spent the better part of a decade.


Crosby's multi-sport complex gets another lease on life with new turf, track

No more mud bowls at Jimmy Lee Stadium.
Those go away with the new turf that has been installed, turning the former grass multi-sport complex up the hill from Crosby High School into an all-weather facility. Turco Golf Inc. was contracted by the city to do the work. The facility, located directly behind Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School, also includes a new track and field set-up.
The renovated Crosby multi-sport complex looks amazing.
The facility upgrades were long overdue. Mayor Neil O'Leary said as much at a Jan. 5, 2015, Board of Education meeting. Here are his comments from that meeting:

"However, at the end of the day, the Crosby Fields are deplorable, they were never designed properly, they’ve never been utilized or able to be utilized properly so we’ve got our kids from Crosby High School going to other football fields and baseball fields because they can’t play in their own backyard which has been a real bone of contention for me since I came on this Board in 2009. The other thing is the use of the track. Quite frankly there’s two areas of the City that get most pedestrian walkway traffic – one is the Bradley/Oronoke Road circle and the other honestly is Crosby High School track and if you go up there you just want to bomb it when you see the condition of it and wonder how it could possibly have deteriorated to that level and then when you drill down into it they tell you it was flawed from the beginning and not designed properly, the material wasn’t adequate then, certainly isn’t adequate now, it’s a health hazard, you can’t even compete on it, it’s amazing."

Waterbury's Board of Alderman held a public hearing on bond authorization for the project on Oct. 20, 2014, and it passed. 
The BSC Group of Glastonbury was authorized for architectural and engineering work at the Jan. 5, 2015, BOE meeting. On Oct. 5, 2015, the Board of Alderman hired Turco Golf Inc. for a little over $2.35 million to do the project.
Another view of the complex.
Now, the Crosby boys soccer and football teams have a renovated masterpiece to call their own. In the spring, the Bulldog boys and girls track and field squads will get to host meets on terrific grounds. 
The location of the new shot put area at the Crosby sports complex.
It's a long way away from deplorable. In fact, it is downright beautiful.
Here's a list of when the first official events on the turf will take place:

Oxford, Sept. 9, 6 p.m.

Derby, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.

Note: Crosby football is scheduled to host Thanksgiving rival Kennedy this year. The game will be played on Thanksgiving morning at 10 a.m.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Waterbury's Bryan Ballenilla expected to help lead WCSU football defense

Western Connecticut State University football is looking to improve on last season, when it went 5-5.
Bryan Ballenilla
(Photo courtesy of WCSU athletics)
Head coach Joe Loth points to Waterbury native Bryan Ballenilla as a leader of the Colonial defense this fall. Ballenilla is a junior defensive end for WCSU, according to a story on the Danbury New-Times website written by Richard Gregory.
Ballenilla played in all 10 games as a sophomore and recorded 11 sacks, by far the highest total on the team. Ballenilla was also third on the defense in tackles with 49. He forced two fumbles, and also recovered one.
Ballenilla was a standout for Wilby High School. As a senior, he was chosen to play in the "Super 100" high school all-star game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. He was an All-City and All-Brass defensive lineman in the NVL for the Wildcats.
Now he's one of the leaders of the WCSU defense.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five Bristol Knights to take part in all-star game

Five Bristol Knights players will join others from the Connecticut Twilight League in an all-star game against the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League on Monday night.
The all-star game is set for 7 p.m. at McKenna Field in East Hartford.
Eddie Dickman (catcher/first baseman), Brian LaRochelle (infield), Julio Ortiz-Rivera (outfield), Chris McGrath (pitcher) and Marco Ross (pitcher, first base) were chosen for the CTL team. The coaches include Bristol's Scott Dickens.
Here's the rest of the CTL roster:

Connecticut Twilight League all-star roster, courtesy of CTL Twitter account.

The Elmer's Silver Bullets swept the Willimantic Ridges in a best-of-three series last week to claim the CTL championship. It's the second title for Elmer's. Bristol owns the most championships in the league with four.

Wolcott football looking to rebuild after big graduation losses

The Wolcott football program had a very successful run over the past four seasons.
The Eagles averaged eight wins per season, with two nine-win campaigns that resulted in postseason berths. Wolcott was Class M's top seed in 2013, then was a Class M-Small participant in 2014. In the other two seasons, the Eagles compiled seven wins each.
This year, Wolcott is looking to rebuild after a major graduation. For just a sample size, here's who was slated to move on and play football at the collegiate level:

Robert Griffin (Curry College)
Ryan Pawlak (Curry College)
Cole Phelps (Central Connecticut State University)
Nathan Filippone (Westfield State College)
Brad Grasso (Post University)
Philip Olmstead (Western Connecticut State University)
Wolcott seniors going to play sports in college gathered for a photo at the school last May.
(Photo courtesy of Wolcott High School)
Those players were in the above photo posted on the Wolcott High School website on May 11. They weren't the only seniors who graduated. Also gone are Jacob Ramos, Anthony Mennillo, Damon Stefko, Jacob Gabriel, Matt Defazio, Chris Guggio, Alex Tapley, Jase Trelli, Rob Pisani, Brandan Brown, Kyle Dunn, Chris Spring, Justin Nadeau, Chris Maisto and Brandon Romano.

That's 21 seniors who have left the program, according to the MaxPreps roster.

There are some big shoes to fill for Wolcott this season. The Eagles held spring practice and got an early jump on filling holes, but it won't be easy. MaxPreps lists Wolcott seniors as Raymond Iorio, Jake Griffin, Steve Urbanski, Bobby Stoeckert, Alyse DeLuca, Ryan Watts, Nick Comeau, Dylan Prescott, Jesse Fucito and Justin Fernandes. Head coach Jason Pace will be looking for his returning players to lead the way for the younger crop that has come into the program.

What won't help is playing Ansonia in the first game of the season. The Chargers also lost some big-time players to graduation, but they are always tough and expected to be among the NVL's best, even the state's best. 

It'll be an uphill battle, but Wolcott has done nothing but take challenges on under Pace. Expect nothing less this season.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wolcott's Mike Nicol will be big part of WCSU football offense this fall

Former Wolcott football standout Mike Nicol is used to be a focal point of his team's offense.
Mike Nicol
Photo courtesy of WCSU athletics
Nicol was dynamic as a passer and runner for the Eagles in his high school career, and both traits could come into play in his senior season at Western Connecticut State University.
WCSU graduated star quarterback Will Arndt of Newtown, and while Nicol won't be under center, his throwing ability could be utilized by the Colonials. Last year, he completed 8-of-11 passes for 84 yards.
Nicol's running ability is already well-known. The talented running back put up 1,319 yards and 14 touchdowns on 268 attempts, all team-highs. Nicol had just one fumble all of last season (10 games).
And oh yeah, Nicol was the team's punter last season (40 punts, 34.9 yards/punt average).
Nicol was optimistic about the team when asked about it in an article for the Danbury News-Times, written by Richard Gregory (you can see photos of Nicol in action at camp above that article).

"We've got a lot of young guys here to compete, which is awesome. They're pushing the older guys to work harder, and the older guys stepping up and coaching the younger guys. It's just overall a great atmosphere here."

Nicol will be called upon to do some heavy lifting this season for WCSU, but as always, he'll be up to the challenge.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A fall of transition for Bristol high school soccer

It's going to be an interesting season for high school soccer at Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern.
Scott Redman will not be wearing maroon this fall. He has taken over for
Roland Loranger as head coach of the Bristol Eastern girls soccer team.
Scott Redman, who succeeded Tony Carrier as head coach of Bristol Central girls soccer, takes over for Roland Loranger at Bristol Eastern this fall. Loranger stepped down in April. It was always an interesting split for Redman, who coached softball at his Alma mater in the spring before going across town in the fall to coach the Central girls soccer team. Now the Eastern physical education teacher will do all of his coaching with the Lancers.
Ginny Godbout, who was Redman's assistant, is listed as the new head coach of the Central girls soccer team under CIAC member school information for Bristol Central.  Nate Jandreau, another Redman assistant, was approved as the Central boys soccer coach on June 1.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

AMATEUR ANECDOTES: Wolcott Scrappers undefeated in Over 38 League

The regular season is winding down in the Northeast Baseball Association Over 38 League, and the Wolcott Scrappers still don't have a loss.
Wolcott sits at a perfect 13-0. The Scrappers have had plenty of production with the bats this season. Kevin Campbell homered in each of the team's first two games.Wayne Chance, Ben Power, Craig Prasauckas, Branden Strileckis and Jim Hanlon have also contributed on offense for Wolcott.
On the mound, Kenny Fairfax, Pat Murphy, Dave Loomis and EJ D'Ettore have done well.
The team with the next best record in the league is the Danbury Bandits at 13-1. The Scrappers and Bandits are scheduled to play on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. at Wolcott High School. Danbury is in first place by a point, 40 to 39. During the regular season, each team gets three points for a win, one point for a loss. 
Erik Williams is the Scrappper manager, according to the league website.

There are several local teams in this league, including the Scrappers. The Wolcott Colonials and Waterbury TimberRattlers also call the league home, along with teams in towns like Southington and Naugatuck. The Colonials are managed by Ryan Wagner, the TimberRattlers by Neil Fraser.

For the Colonials, Jesse Carpenter and Adam Peters have contributed on offense while Dave Moriarty, Anthony Passiniti, Jay McCormack and Tim Hinckley have had good efforts on the mound.

All 17 teams make the postseason. The top eight play in the Championship bracket while 9-17 go to the single elimination President's bracket. The Colonials are 6-9 and sit two spots outside of the Championship bracket. The TimberRattlers (0-13) have yet to win a game.

Playoffs are scheduled to begin on Sept. 10.

CHECKING IN: Dan Mulrooney, former Holy Cross football standout

This is a new occasional feature on former student-athletes from the area who have moved on to new endeavors. I am looking mostly for sports, but it can be outside of sports. The first one is on Dan Mulrooney. If you have someone you think would be good for "Checking In", you can email me at sportsonct69@gmail.com. You can also send me a Tweet @SportsonCT69.

Dan Mulrooney
Photo courtesy of WPI Athletics
The high school football season started Monday, and area teams like Holy Cross are working hard toward the season opener.
Also working hard is former Crusader star Dan Mulrooney. Mulrooney is in his fourth season with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, his third as an assistant coach. Mulrooney is the defensive coordinator for WPI.
Mulrooney had a terrific career at Holy Cross, where he was a two-time All-State player. Mulrooney helped the Crusaders get to two state championship games, including a victory in 2006.
Mulrooney began his college career at Boston College, then finished up at Stony Brook University. Mulrooney led the Seawolves in tackles with 75 in 2011.

Holy Cross made the state playoffs in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Mulrooney was a two-time All-NVL and three-time All-City selection.
The Crusaders reached the Class SS state championship game in 2004, where it lost to Woodland. Mulrooney was a sophomore at the time.
In 2005, Holy Cross put a scare into top-seeded Brookfield in a 35-30 loss in Class SS, and Mulrooney was a big reason why. He carried 17 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns (15, 20, 2). Mulrooney also caught four passes for 40 yards. His final touchdown run cut Holy Cross' deficit to 35-28 in the fourth quarter, but the Crusaders didn't get any closer than 35-30.
Mulrooney was a one-man wrecking crew as a senior in the 2006 Class SS state championship game. He carried the ball 20 times for 353 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-0 Holy Cross victory. Mulrooney scored on runs of 72, 76, 49 and 29 yards. His 72-yard touchdown run was on the first play from scrimmage. Mulrooney was the 2006 NVL Player of the Year.
Mulrooney was also a strong defensive player at Holy Cross. He ended up seeing time on both sides of the ball at Boston College before moving on to Stony Brook.

Mulrooney is now passing his knowledge out to players at WPI. 

Waterbury baseball man Tony Santoro now a Tri-State Hall of Famer

In Waterbury, Tony Santoro is one of the people that makes things go on baseball diamonds around the Brass City.
Santoro was recognized for his hard work on Monday night when he was inducted into the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League Hall of Fame. The induction took place before Game 1 of the league's World Series at Fuessenich Park in Torrington.
Santoro is a long-time fixture in amateur baseball, span of over 40 years to be more accurate. He has worn many hats in city baseball, and he got his start as a kid because of his father. Santoro played in the Waterbury Boys, Koufax and Connie Mack leagues, and he also suited up for Sacred Heart High School. That's according to a post on the Hall of Fame inductees on the Tri-State website.
Santoro also gave his time as a coach, helping his father with the Townsend Odd Fellows for several years. 
Santoro got involved with the Mickey Mantle World Series while it was held in Waterbury from 1984 to 1992. From 1992 to 2004, he served as the Waterbury Mickey Mantle League's president.
Santoro continues to serve as president of the Connecticut Amateur Baseball Congress, a position he has been in since 1995.
Santoro received a great individual honor in 1999 when he was named American Amateur Baseball Congress National Executive of the Year.
From 2012 to 2015, he was Sandy Koufax Division Vice President, and he is currently in the same position for Mickey Mantle.
Together with Ray Brown, the CABC served as host of the Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial World Series in July and August. Games were played at the Municipal Stadium complex, which includes Bob Palmer Field.
At the induction, Santoro had plenty of people to thank.
"Tony would like to thank his father for instilling in him a life-long long of baseball and his mother for supporting him in all of his endeavors," the post on Tri-State's website reads. "He would also like to thank his "significant other" Susan Wampler, the late Frank Battelli, Ray Brown and all of the dedicated and talented individuals he has had the pleasure to meet and work with in amateur baseball."
Outside of baseball, Santoro is an attorney in the city.
Santoro joined Jim Isaacson, Dan Hamel, TJ Campion, Chris Beach and Donny Crossman in the 2016 class. Read more about them here.

High school football is off and running

Monday was the first day of conditioning for Connecticut high school football teams that elected not to take days in the spring.
A whole slew of area teams started Monday, including Holy Cross. The Crusaders have some extra excitement building with the first home game on campus coming on Sept. 10 against Kennedy.
Holy Cross football posted this on Twitter after Day 1:

Great opening day for Holy Cross. The young men & the staff are committed & focused for 2016 🏈 #HCFootball #cthsfb

Crosby also had its opening day of conditioning. The Bulldogs have reason to be excited, given they are the defending NVL Brass Division champions. This was posted by Crosby football on Twitter:

Tremendous first day! The season has begun. Players positive, enthusiastic, & committed. Keep it going and true success will follow.

Bristol Central head coach Jeff Papazian instructed his players to be be ready in a Twitter post on Aug. 13:

Be on time, be prepared, be ready to work

Another local team starting on Monday was Bristol Eastern. It's a new beginning for the Lancers, who are led by former player turned head coach Anthony (A.J.) Julius. Julius takes over for Paul Philippon, who coached for one year in his second stint with Eastern.
This was the post on the Bristol Eastern athletics Twitter account:

Lancer football getting things going after a summer of lifting. Let's go fellas!

The Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech co-op began its conditioning at Municipal Stadium's Ray Snyder Sr. Field. 

St. Paul Catholic was also scheduled to begin conditioning on Monday, according to gametimect.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

AMATEUR ANECDOTES: Kyle Dube can call himself a NECBL champion

At Fairfield University, Kyle Dube was part of the first-ever MAAC Tournament championship team and saw time on the mound in the NCAA Tournament.
Dube went on to pitch for the Mystic Schooners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Another season, another championship for the former St. Paul standout.
Kyle Dube
Photo courtesy of
Mystic Schooners
Mystic clinched its first NECBL championship since moving to the Connecticut shore for the 2011 season by beating the Sanford Mainers 8-2 last Thursday.
It was the second time Mystic went the distance in a best-of-three series in this postseason. The Schooners opened the playoffs with a three-game title against the New Bedford Bay Sox. Mystic swept the Newport Gulls to reach the championship series.
The Schooners won the first game over the Mainers at home by a score of 3-1, then took the second game in Maine for the championship.
As for Dube, the Southington right-hander started the Aug. 6 playoff game against Newport, which ended up being a 7-5 Mystic win. He earned a no-decision after pitching 3.2 innings. Dube struck out seven, walked two and gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits.
During the regular season, Dube pitched in eight games, five of which were starts. Dube tied for second on the team in wins with three and was a perfect 3-0. He pitched 29.1 innings and recorded a 2.76 ERA, 19 hits, 34 strikeouts and 12 walks.
Dube will be entering his senior season at Fairfield.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Rivers homers in back-to-back games

Yesterday, I wrote a Minor League Baseball post that included former Bristol Eastern star Kevin Rivers.
Well, he's done something in the last day-plus to warrant another one.
Rivers hit a two-run home run in two straight games for the York Revolution against the Bridgeport Bluefish. The home runs, hit last night and today, are the third and the fourth of the season for Rivers between York and the New Britain Bees. They doubled his home run total from what he had going into Saturday's game.
The Revolution are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and Rivers can only help them continue to be successful.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: A career-high in strikeouts for Blandino, and another dinger for Cruz

I think it's fair to say that Matt Blandino's latest start with the Arizona League (Rookie) Reds was awesome.
Pitching on Aug. 6 against the Diamondbacks, the former Bristol Central standout fanned seven batters with no walks in three innings of work. The right-hander gave up just two hits over those three scoreless innings. Blandino dropped his ERA to a rock-solid 2.30, and his WHIP stands at 1.09.
Teammate Manny Cruz has average at .277 for the season. On Aug. 8 against the Indians, the former Wolcott and Wilby standout connected for his third home run of the season. Cruz had two hits, a run scored, a stolen base and two RBI in that game. For the year, Cruz has three homers, two triples, a double and 11 RBI.

Connor Fitzsimons, Arizona League Angels
Fitzsimons still has just one hit on the season, but he drove in his first run as a professional in a Aug. 9 game against the Athletics. Fitzsimons drove in the run on a fielder's choice. The former Bristol Eastern standout had a throwing error in the game, but he also caught a runner trying to steal second.

Kevin Rivers, York Revolution
The former Bristol Eastern star was hitting .288 for his second team this season entering tonight's game. Rivers had gone hitless in his last four games before last night, when he didn't register an official at bat. That's because he showed a good eye and walked four times.
For the season with York (37 games), Rivers has a homer, 23 RBI, 15 doubles, four triples, two stolen bases and 15 walks. He has scored 17 runs.

Great season ends early for Bristol Knights

There will be no three-peat for the Bristol Knights.
The Elmer's Silver Bullets made sure of that Friday night in a rain-delayed 7-2 victory over the two-time defending Connecticut Twilight League champions at Rotary Field in South Windsor. After a terrific 20-4-1 regular season, the Knights saw their playoff run end after just two games.
A.J. Lowers had three hits while Ken Cook III had two hits and two RBI for Elmer's in the win. The Silver Bullets are one of four teams remaining in the CTL Playoffs.
The great run of the Bristol Knights is over for the 2016 season.

Bristol closes out its 30th year of the Little League Baseball Eastern Regional

The Little League Baseball Eastern Regional was moved to Bristol in 1987.
It hasn't been anywhere else since.
This year is the 30th anniversary of baseball at the Little League Eastern Region Headquarters, with its main diamond at Leon J. Breen Field. The complex itself is known as the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center.
At 1 p.m., Fairfield American of Connecticut faces Warwick North of Rhode Island in the New England final. At 7 p.m., the Mid-Atlantic final pits Maine-Endwell of New York against Keystone of Pennsylvania.
Back in 1987, Dover North of New Hampshire claimed what was then the East Region championship. Teams from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont competed in the regional. 
The first regional champion from Connecticut was the famous Trumbull National team led by Chris Drury of National Hockey League lore. That Trumbull team went on to win the 1989 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
In 2001, the Little League World Series expanded, and the Eastern Region was split into the New England and Mid-Atlantic regionals. Lincoln of Rhode Island took the New England crown. The original Mid-Atlantic champ was from the Bronx, New York, but its title was later vacated because of the use of ineligible player Danny Almonte. State College American of Pennsylvania is now listed as the Mid-Atlantic champion.
The first Connecticut champion under the new format came in 2008, when Shelton National captured the New England title.
Last year, Cranston Western of Rhode Island was the top team in New England. The Mid-Atlantic's best was Red Land of Pennsylvania (Lewisberry).
By the end of the day (weather permitting), two more regional champions will be crowned, and the 30th year of Little League Eastern Regional baseball will be completed.

Information for past regional results obtained from http://www.unpage.org/east/. This is a great site for comprehensive results of the Eastern Region, before and after it was split into the New England and Mid-Atlantic brackets.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Win or go home for Bristol Knights after loss to Brickhouse Indians

This was the not the start that the two-time defending champion Bristol Knights were hoping for.
After a rainout Wednesday, the Connecticut Twilight League's top seed opened the playoffs last night at South Windsor's Rotary Field against the Brickhouse Indians. Bristol couldn't find its offense against Brickhouse pitcher Devin Over (10 strikeouts) and lost 8-0. Brian Penney had two RBI for the Indians.
It's win or go home now for the Knights, beginning with tonight's game (approximately 8 o'clock start) against the Elmer's Silver Bullets. That's the situation Bristol finds itself in after last night's loss. The only way out of this situation is to win games and get to the best-of-three championship series. The Knights have made runs like this before, but they'll need to dig deep and make plays.
Check out the @CTLbaseball Twitter feed for updates on tonight's game.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Waterbury Career Academy begins its first year in the NVL this fall

Last year, the Waterbury Career Academy took a big leap with its first varsity seasons.
The major highlights for the Spartans were state tournament appearances by their softball and baseball teams. Softball won its first-ever state tournament game.
The Waterbury Career Academy begins its first season of NVL play this fall.
This year, it's another big leap for WCA, this time into the Naugatuck Valley League. The Spartans will play full varsity schedules in football, boys soccer, cross country and girls volleyball this fall.
"We are very excited to be in our inaugural year in the NVL," WCA athletic director Ryan McDonald wrote in an email. "Our coaches and players have worked hard to reach this point and are looking forward to competing against our sister schools here in Waterbury and the teams throughout the league."
It's certainly a step up in competition for the Spartans after playing a mix of NVL and technical high schools last season. Still, WCA has been putting in work.
WCA athletes have been working hard to get ready for their first season in the NVL.
"Our athletes will do the best they can to represent our school well and compete at the highest level," McDonald wrote.
And the Spartans are happy to be where they are.
"We are proud to be in a league that is well respected like the NVL," McDonald wrote. 
Here's when the first games will be played by WCA teams:

BOYS SOCCER -- at Derby on Friday, Sept. 9, 3:45 p.m. (Witek Park) 
                           -- home matches are at Hamilton Park
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL -- at Seymour on Friday, Sept. 9, 6 p.m. (Seymour High School)
                                   -- home matches at Waterbury Career Academy 
FOOTBALL -- at Wilby on Friday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. (Ray Snyder Sr. Field, Municipal Stadium)
                    -- home games at Ray Snyder Sr. Field, Municipal Stadium 
CROSS COUNTRY -- at Holy Cross with Oxford and Wolcott on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 4 p.m. (at Holy Cross High School)  
                                -- no home meets listed

Holy Cross football, soccer to play at home this fall

Home games will truly be home for the football and soccer programs of Waterbury's Holy Cross High School.
I took a trip over to Holy Cross to check out what has been going on with Alumni Field, and the line from Kevin Costner's "Field of Dreams" comes to mind.

If you build it, they will come.

Well, Holy Cross is doing just that. The lines have been painted on the field, which will have its west end zone -- or goal for soccer -- running through the infield of the baseball diamond.
You can see the lines of the football and soccer fields in the infield of Holy Cross'
baseball diamond. Alumni Field will be ready for the first Crusader home games in September.
 Here's another view of the lines, looking more toward midfield.

If you've been to Holy Cross for baseball and softball, and even some soccer, you know the hill by the parking lot serves as natural seating. It will be terrific for games in the fall.
The Waterbury Republican-American's Joe Palladino reported that there will be some kind of seating on the hill, but it could just end up being a place to pull out a lawn chair. That sounds good to me. 
Looking out at midfield at Alumni Field at Holy Cross High School.
A press box is being constructed.
Palladino said alumni funding has been put together for goalposts, a scoreboard, the field, a press box for a clock operator and an announcer, and portable bleachers on the north side of the field for the visiting team.
Supplies are on site for Alumni Field at Holy Cross.
As stated before, Alumni Field will be home for football, boys soccer and girls soccer. There's no more Ray Snyder Sr. Field at Municipal Stadium. It's natural grass and a hillside view for the Crusader fans.
The boys soccer team gets the honor of playing the first match at the facility. Holy Cross is scheduled to host Torrington on Friday, Sept. 9, at 3:30 p.m.
Football is looking to draw a nice crowd to Alumni Field on Saturday, Sept. 10, in its 1 p.m. season opener against Kennedy.
Girls soccer plays its first match at Alumni Field on Friday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m. against Wolcott.
The football team is scheduled to play rival Wolcott on Thanksgiving morning at 10 o'olock at Alumni Field. That will be interesting, given Thanksgiving games usually draw big crowds. Holy Cross athletic director Jerry Ciarleglio was quoted in Palladino's article saying that 400 people can fit comfortably at Alumni Field.
Thanksgiving will be interesting, but we're nowhere near that yet. The first official game is Friday, Sept. 9. A new era begins at Holy Cross. The Crusaders will be home.

Monday, August 8, 2016

UPDATE: Bristol Knights begin Connecticut Twilight League three-peat quest against Brickhouse Indians on Wednesday

The Connecticut Twilight League Playoffs began Monday, but not for the Bristol Knights.
That's because the two-time defending champions are the No. 1 seed. Bristol owned a first round bye through Monday and Tuesday's games. The Knights play for the first time Wednesday at 6 p.m. against the No. 5 Brickhouse Indians at Rotary Field in South Windsor. Brickhouse defeated the No. 4 Chicago Sam's Orioles 2-0 and knocked them into the Elimination Bracket.
Bristol won all three regular season games against Brickhouse.
At stake for Bristol is simple -- a three-peat. The Knights went 20-4-1 in the regular season and set themselves up with not only a bye, but no losses entering the playoffs. The bottom four teams in the 10-team playoffs start with a loss. Teams 3-6 don't start with a loss, but they also lack a first round bye.
Bristol was rewarded for its incredibly strong regular season. Starting Wednesday, the Knights take aim at a third straight CTL championship.
The Willimantic Ridges (13-12-1) were the other division winner and received the other first round bye.

AREA ROUNDUP: Little League regionals only game left in town

The Little League Baseball New England and Mid-Atlantic Regionals are the only major tournament baseball taking place in the Sports on CT-69 area.
To see those games, go to the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center, home of Breen Field, on Mix Street in Bristol.
To see a local team, check out the Bristol Knights of the Connecticut Twilight League. The two-time defending champions open the playoffs on Wednesday at Rotary Field in South Windsor.

Waterbury's busy stretch of baseball came to an end Sunday with the championship round of the AABC World Series at Municipal Stadium's Bob Palmer Field. The Watertown Blaze needed one win over the Albany Athletics (New York) to claim the title, but Albany won both games and became champions. Watertown resumes play in the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League Playoffs this week as the top seed. They will be joined in the playoffs by the Naugatuck Dogs, who also competed in the Stan Musial World Series.
Waterbury Municipal Stadium, including Bob Palmer Field, was host to three
different AABC World Series. The last one, the Stan Musial, was completed
on Sunday with two games between the Watertown Blaze and the Albany Athletics.
Tri-State Commissioner Eddie Gadomski was thrilled with what occurred at Municipal Stadium along with Fuessenich Park in Torrington and Deland Field in Watertown. Here's what he wrote on the league website.

"I sat in the Press Box at Municipal Stadium like a 'proud papa watching his kids play in the AABC World Series championship and couldn't be anymore grateful for what Watertown has done for the Tri-State Baseball League and the Stan Musial level, making an amazing run in their first ever appearance in a showcase tournament against the best teams from the Northeast of America. I had so many teams, players, and fans texting me non-stop asking how Watertown and Naugy are doing - during the games!!" 
 The Municipal Stadium complex and Waterbury can also be proud of the hosting job it did for the Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial World Series. It was a lot to take on, yet the Brass City took it in, and did well. 

Bristol's Muzzy Field also had a busy stretch of baseball, including hosting some games in the AABC Mickey Mantle World Series. Muzzy was also home to the American Legion Northeast Regional. The regional finished up on Sunday, with Cumberland, R.I.-based Upper Deck 86/14 winning the title over Connecticut champion RCP (Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland).
Muzzy Field in Bristol finished hosting the American Legion Northeast Regional yesterday.
The park also hosted the AABC Mickey Mantle World Series.
Bristol Post 2, the host team, went 1-2 in regional play.
The crowds may not have been big, but Muzzy is always a good play to host a tournament.

Here's hoping both Municipal Stadium and Muzzy Field continue to host many postseason baseball tournaments in the future.