St. Joseph's Joe Burns
No sport in the FCIAC enjoys greater parity than baseball.
Consider this: No team has won three successive league titles in the sport, and consecutive championships have occurred just five times in 50 years. Lower seeds have had almost the same success as higher ones winning the necessary three straight postseason games over the past 15 years.
All of which makes the recent run by Staples the closest thing there has been to a baseball dynasty in the league. The Wreckers have won three of the last four crowns, and are certainly positioned to make it four out of five this spring.
It will not be easy. The league is loaded with good players and there are more contenders, at least on paper in early April, than at any other time in recent memory.
How the new BBCOR bats will affect the outcomes of games remains to be seen.
With the prospect for stronger pitching and better hitting across the board, plus the likelihood of closer-scoring, more defensive-oriented games, this season has the potential to be one of the most intriguing in league history.
Teams to watch
Staples' Bryan Terzian
Staples: Write off the Wreckers at your own risk. A combination of veterans and highly touted newcomers will ensure that Westport will remain at the center of the FCIAC baseball universe.
McMahon: With the league’s best player in Bryan Daniello and experience up the middle, the Senators are poised to improve on last season’s 18-6 mark.
St. Joseph: The Cadets’ only league title came in 1998. That might soon change. They are loaded and right now would appear the favorite after going 21-4 and losing in the FCIAC semifinals and state quarterfinals last season.
Greenwich: The Cardinals have a veteran lineup and no obvious weaknesses. It has been eight years since their last league crown. The pieces are in place for a reversal in fortune.
Wilton: After the first four teams, there is a pool of teams with a balance of strengths and weaknesses. With the new BBCOR bats, keep an eye on the Warriors, who might have the deepest pitching staff.
Position players to watch
McMahon's Brian Daniello
Bryan Daniello, McMahon: The UConn-bound shortstop/pitcher was the league’s Player of the Year as a junior. He batted .432, with three home runs and 25 runs scored, and had a 1.50 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 70 innings.
Bryan Terzian, Staples: The most valuable player in last year’s FCIAC final, the Wreckers’ third baseman batted .380 with four home runs and 31 RBIs.
Joe Burns, St. Joseph: A four-year starter at catcher, Burns will try and surpass his lofty numbers of a year ago — .423 average, three home runs and 25 runs batted in — before heading off to play at St. John’s.
Alexis Guadalupe, St. Joseph: Another dominant hitter, the three-year starter in right field led the team in average (.468) and RBIs (32) while hitting three home runs.
Willie Burger, New Canaan: The Rams’ third baseman led the team with a .487 average and is one of the league’s toughest outs.
Matt Ederle, Norwalk: With an inexperienced roster, the Bears will be counting greatly on their star catcher.
Chris DelDebbio, Danbury: A key reason the Hatters reached the FCIAC final was the center fielder who hit .432.
Pitchers to watch
Greenwich's Dylan Callahan
Dylan Callahan, Greenwich: Needing a win to reach the league playoffs, Callahan pitched a 1-0 shutout against Wilton. That kind of performance has become the norm.
Jim Kopack, Staples: The Wreckers’ senior ace was 7-1 with a 2.69 earned run average and will again anchor the staff.
Paul Merolla, Wilton: At 6-foot-7, the hard-throwing righthander stands tall on and off the mound.
Dan Warren, Fairfield Warde: The Mustangs will need a big year from Warren to remain a playoff contender.
Dillon Duncan, Darien: One of the league’s most underrated players, Duncan was 4-3 with a 1.43 ERA last season.
5 Games to Watch
New Canaan at St. Joseph, April 4: Are the Rams a team with just three good players or a legitimate contender? They start to find out on opening day against one of the FCIAC favorites.
McMahon at Danbury, April 9: Another early-season test between two teams trying to stay atop the league standings.
Wilton at Greenwich, April 16: The team with the deepest pitching staff faces the team with perhaps the best pitcher. If the rotations align, you should have plenty of time to make the early-bird special.
Staples at St. Joseph, April 27: Though there are a number of quality teams, this might be the most anticipated game of the regular season.
Greenwich at Staples, May 11: This game will likely have huge seeding implications heading into the final week of the regular season.
Players to Watch
Here is a list of the top FCIAC baseball players to watch by team, based on information and statistics provided by league coaches.
Westhill: Billy Druelhl SS/3B, Brandon Curto CF, Andrew Oakes P/1B, Bryan Piechel 2B/DH.
Trinity Catholic: Kyle DiVico CF/P, Jeff Cortese 1B/C, Kevin Epp 3B/P, Mike Palomba SS/P, Danny O’Leary P
Darien: Thomas Carruthers SS (279, 13 runs, 9 RBIs), Sam Gillespie C (.355, 2 HR, 14 RBIs), Dillon Duncan P (4–3, 1.43 ERA), Bryan Previte CF (.379, 1 HR, 17 runs), Kyle Mangan RF (.293, 7 RBIs).
New Canaan: Doug Reilly 2B, Andrew Casali P/OF, Casey Ouellette C, CJ Altman C, Gogo Jones 1B, Henry Lavieri 1B, Willie Burger 3B/P (.487), Dan Rajkowski SS/P, Brian Moran OF, Nick Cascione OF, Alex Curto OF, Alex Lapolice OF, Matt Toth INF/OF, Mike Keshin P, JR Anderson P.
Greenwich: Casey Gaynor P/OF, Dylan Callahan P/SS (.385), Matt Pruner 2B, David Berdoff OF/P (.385), Kyle Ballone 1B/DH, Steven Fisher P, Cameron Fennell 3B/P, Ricky Okazaki C, Taylor Olmstead OF (2 HR, 13 RBIs).
Brien McMahon: Joe Cox 1B, Jamie Restivo 2B, Bryan Daniello SS, Ricardo Torres 3B/P (4-2), Chris Holomakoff C/OF, Dennis Warfield OF, Zach O’Connor OF.
Staples: Jim Kopack P (7-1 2.69 ERA), Bryan Terzian 3B/ P (.380, 4 HRs, 31 RBIs), Matt Reynolds P, Zach Levins P/OF, James Frusciante C.
St. Joseph: Joe Burns C (.423, 3 HRs, 25 RBIs), Alexis Guadalupe RF (.468, 3 HRs, 32 RBIs), Jason Holcomb SS/P (.397, 23 RBIs, 1.71 ERA ), John Amoroso P (6-1, 2.92 ERA), Jonathan Vazquez 1B (.317, 14 RBIs), Matt Batten IF.
Trumbull: Marcus Jenkins SS, Casey Mack 3B, James DeNomme C, Brendan Moore OF, Joey Forren OF, Mike Yerina P, Gerard Spiegel P.
Ridgefield: Eric Jones C, Ryan Callahan P, Bryce Maher SS, Harrison Siclair 2B, Patrick Molyneaux P/OF.
Fairfield Warde: Dan Warren SS/P (.323, 18 RBIs), Joe Bartolomeo OF (.393, 19 RBIs), Devon Lofton CF, Dario Pugliano 3B (.311), Shane Goven P (4-3).
Fairfield Ludlowe: Tim Moran Sr. P, Mike Kochiss Jr. IF/P, Tyler Bulkley Sr. SS, Victor D’Ascenzo Jr. OF/P, Charlie Meder Jr. OF
Danbury: Chris DelDebbio CF/P (.432), Austin Calitro C (16 RBIs).
Norwalk: Matt Ederle C, Mike Parlanti CF/P, Steve Curran P.
Wilton: Paul Merolla P, Garrett Furnivall P, Brett Phillips SS.
Central: Paulie Hernandez P/1B, Eric Vilanueva P/SS, Christian Rodriguez P/OF.
(Stamford, Fairfield Ludlowe, Warren Harding and Bassick did not provide any information).
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