For yet another year, the area baseball teams combined for an over-.500 record (46-34) and four tournament berths. St. Paul won one more game than it did last regular season before it went on to win the Class S title, while Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern and Terryville each took steps back in the regular season, however small.
The Lancers finished the regular season just two games over .500, one year removed from an 18-2 season and a No. 1 seed in the Class L tournament. The Rams and Kangaroos each missed their regular season marks by one win, with Terryville falling below even and Bristol Central finishing .500.
The four teams could not have all reached their state tournaments without some talented players and this year’s All-Press Baseball Team, the ninth annual, is made up of the area’s best.
St. Paul is represented by four players on this year’s team: Andrew Owsianko, Wes Lahey, Ryan Greene and Julian Thayer.
Owsianko became the third consecutive Falcon to be named All-State and is one of only two players returning from last year’s All-Press team. Playing solely third base for St. Paul this season after stepping away from the mound, Owsianko was one of St. Paul’s leaders. He finished with a .348 batting average and a team-high 39 RBI, which was 10 more than the next highest total. His 10 home runs were also a team high and two more than the rest of the team combined.
With Owsianko off the mound, Lahey entered the season as St. Paul’s top pitcher and he did not disappoint. In nine games (56 innings), Lahey posted a 1.50 ERA and had a 7-2 record. His 58 strikeouts led the Falcons and the opposition’s .194 batting average against him was lowest among St. Paul pitchers with more than six innings pitched. His performance earned him All-NVL honors.
After making his name with the Falcons late last season, Greene earned All-NVL Copper honors in his first full varsity season with St. Paul. Greene’s .377 average was fourth on the team and his 27 RBI ranked third. Greene also hit three home runs, which was second behind Owsianko. In the field, Greene did not make an error.
Thayer was impressive for the Falcons this season, even forgetting the fact it was his freshman campaign. Thayer pitched nearly 24 innings for St. Paul, posting an ERA of 4.44 and picking up 25 strikeouts, but his biggest contribution was at the plate. His .506 batting average was best among St. Paul players and his 15 doubles were more than double what any other Falcon had this season. He also hit three of St. Paul’s four triples and was second on the team with 29 RBI. His season earned him All-NVL Copper honors.
Bristol Eastern suffered an early exit from the Class L tournament but the Lancers are represented by three players on our All-Press team.
Zach Marquis was Bristol Eastern’s workhorse on the mound. He got the ball in the Lancers’ biggest games and he did not often disappoint. He went 5-2 with a 1.49 ERA and 45 strikeouts. The highlight was a perfect game against Rocky Hill. He also tossed a pair of shutouts against rival Bristol Central. Bristol Eastern coach Mike Giovinazzo called him a fierce competitor and said he “shone brightest in toughest situations.” Marquis earned all-conference honors and joins Owsianko as the only players to be selected from last year’s All-Press team.
In addition to Marquis, Gary Gagnier was also named all-conference for the Lancers. He posted a .338 average and a .427 OBP, while also leading the Lancers in runs, hits and extra-base hits. On the other side of the ball, the senior catcher was steady behind the plate, creating a strong tandem with Marquis and Eastern’s other pitchers. Giovinazzo said he was a leader on both offense and defense was the “heart and soul of the team.”
Jake Violette rounds out Bristol Eastern’s selections and was chosen for being well-rounded. Violette played first base and outfield for the Lancers in addition to pitching. He was 5-3 on the mound with a 3.00 ERA, while also posting a .301 batting average at the plate. Giovinazzo called him a “versatile player who could be counted on to perform at a high level on both offense and defense.”
Bristol Central once again reached the second round of the state tournament and three Rams were selected to our All-Press team.
Shortstop Noah Plantamuro earned his second all-conference nod through his play. The junior played exceptional defense for the Rams, while also leading Bristol Central in RBI.
“[He] still has another year to make himself into a player that impacts every game on both sides of the ball,” Central coach Bunty Ray said. “It has been a luxury to have a great defensive player on the left side.”
Jeremy Ganavage also earned all-conference honors as the catcher for the Rams. The senior was the team’s steadiest offensive player and was frequently the spark the Rams needed. Ganavage was also adept behind the plate, throwing out runners and knocking down balls.
“I would have to put him in the top-5 in my 20 years as far as improvement as a player in his four year career,” Ray said. “He has a great attitude and is a great teammate, which are two of the best compliments a coach can give any player.”
The third representative from Bristol Central on our All-Press team is pitcher Kenny Knox. The senior earned five wins and could have had more if not for some tough-luck losses along the way. According to Ray, even in the losses, Knox pitched well enough to give the Rams a chance to win.
“His consistency and competitiveness will be tough to replace,” the coach said.
Terryville was the only area team to finish under .500 but the Kangaroos still qualified for the state tournament and their two representatives on our All-Press team were a big part of that.
Shawn Fulton was Terryville’s biggest offensive player. The senior shortstop batted .500, with 19 runs scored, 14 RBI and nine extra-base hits - including one home run. He also added 12 stolen bases. This was Fulton’s third season as a starter for Terryville and was a co-captain.
“There were times during the season where he was nearly impossible to get out, as he was able to grind out at-bats and hit to all fields,” Terryville coach Brian Rosano said. “He is an excellent situational hitter and had several clutch hits during the season. He has terrific hands, a strong arm and a remarkable work ethic that was a great example for our younger players.”
Joining Fulton from Terryville on our team is first baseman John Grimes. The senior started for three seasons for the Kangaroos and was one of the team’s captains this season. He batted .375, recording 11 RBI, nine runs scored and six stolen bases. But probably his most impressive stat was he only struck out five times the entire season.
“He is an exceptional defensive player, whose length and soft hands made him an ideal target for our infielders,” Rosano said. “He provided a presence in the middle of our lineup throughout the season and really turned up his production in the second half of the season, hitting above .500 over our last ten games.”