BRISTOL - There’s a youth movement in full swing on the St. Paul baseball team and it has resulted in double-digit wins for the Falcons for the seventh consecutive season. St. Paul shut out Seymour 5-0 on Monday afternoon and its younger members played a part, just as they have all season.
“We’ve been hitting the ball well all year,” St. Paul coach Vic Rinaldi said. “I think we have a pretty balanced lineup. We have some young kids pitching in and it just seems to be working so far.”
The Falcons had two freshmen (Ethan Rembish and Julian Thayer), one sophomore (Chris Mills) and two juniors (Ryan Greene and Nick Morrell) take the field on Monday and four of those five - Rembish did not bat - combined to go 3-for-10 with four runs scored and one RBI.
Morrell and Greene, being juniors, are the most experienced of the non-seniors. Morrell started all of last season and the entirety of this season so far at second base and Greene has been the Falcons’ starting first baseman since debuting late last season. But for Thayer, Rembish and Mills, this is their first taste of varsity baseball and they have proven they belong.
“Our center fielder, Ethan Rembish, is also a pitcher for us,” Rinaldi said. “Our shortstop, Julian Thayer, as of before [Monday’s] game, was leading the team in hitting.
“Chris is another guy that’s been doing a great job. He’s in the 9 hole [and] he’s batting, I think, close to .400. He’s hitting the ball well. More importantly, he’s catching well. [Monday], he had a few passed balls, a few issues with his glove but he’s been great for us behind the plate.”
The Falcons lost eight seniors last season, including multiple players that were integral parts of the championship run, so there were plenty of question marks entering this season but this year’s underclassmen and juniors have largely answered those questions.
“We knew coming into the season that it was going to take some guys that we didn’t know to step into some roles for us because we graduated eight seniors,” Rinaldi said. “A lot of these young guys have stepped up and they’ve played really well for us.”
For the players, this season has been a great experience.
“It’s been cool,” Greene said. “We lost a lot of talent last year, a lot of seniors, so everybody’s got to pick up the slack where it’s needed [and] step up in big moments.”
But the young players are not alone on the team. St. Paul still has a few key seniors and they have had important roles, both on the field and mentoring their younger teammates.
“I think they keep everyone loose,” Rinaldi said about his seniors. “Wes [Lahey] and [Andrew] Owsianko, we have Tommy Houle also, [Jack] Bator’s a senior, so our seniors have been doing a good job to keep everyone loose and some of the young guys relaxed and really focusing on taking one game at a time and not looking ahead. They’ve been doing a great job.”
Greene agreed with his coach’s view of how his seniors have handled their leadership roles.
“There’s only a couple of them [but] our captains show great leadership so we’ve just got to be behind them,” he said.
While it is helping this season, the balanced nature of the roster, as far as age goes, is also a positive sign for the Falcons in the long term. St. Paul is 12-2 in its season immediately following its state championship and the youth it possesses has them poised for much more success over the coming years.
“It’s important to continue to be a winning program and not have any hiccups along the way,” Rinaldi said of his team’s youth. “We kind of seem like we’ve picked up right where we left off from last year so far this year. That’s what you need to have a good program. You need to have some young guys step up at some point and that’s what we needed this year and that’s what happened.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30