BRISTOL - The St. Paul baseball team didnâ€™t mince words - it was a disappointing season.
Even reaching the Class S quarterfinals and going 19-7, the Falcons were unable to reach the expectations that have become standard for the program.
â€śOur expectations this year were the same as always, winning the state championship,â€ť senior second baseman Nick Morrell said.
St. Paulâ€™s championship expectations will come to full circle again next season and the Falcons roster suggests another state championship may be on the way, especially with the amount of quality talent returning.
In the quarterfinals loss to Notre Dame-Fairfield on Saturday, St. Paul had three different pitchers see time on the mound.
Ethan Rembish started and Dylan Gagnon followed, while Walker Sharp blanked the Lancers to keep them at seven runs in his three innings on the mound.
Sharp and Rembish are two pitchers in a standout sophomore class that also includes Julian Thayer, Josh Cofrancesco and Ryan Parent.
Rembish and Julian Thayer were the two primary starters for the Falcons this season, while Sharp was one of the teamâ€™s top relievers.
Offensively, Cofrancesco, Thayer and Parent regularly hit in the top five spots in the batting order. Cofrancesco led off, Thayer hit third and Parent batted fifth.
While the sophomore class is the strength of the program going into their junior seasons, the soon-to-be senior class also has some key players returning, including Sean Crean, Scott Winters and Chris Mills.
Crean and Mills occupied the No. 6 and No. 7 spots in the batting order. Mills was also critical to the success of the young starting pitchers as the starting catcher, while Winters was another reliever for the Falcons who had a strong season.
Going forward, that pitching will be the strength of St. Paul with all of its pitchers returning next year.
This past season the Falcons allowed 85 total runs in 26 games played, just over three runs allowed per game.
While a state championship every season may not be plausible, St. Paul has set the tone for its baseball program and success has been steady over the years.
The Falcons have advanced past the first round of the Class S tournament in each of the past seven seasons. Over the course of that run, St. Paul has a state championship in 2016 and has reached the quarterfinals five times.
â€śWe always expect to compete,â€ť Falcons head coach Vic Rinaldi said. â€śWe always think we have the talent for an NVL title and to make a run in Class S. Every year we expect ourselves to make a run and this is exactly where we thought weâ€™d be.â€ť
With the standout sophomore class and the loss of just two seniors that saw meaningful playing time, St. Paul should be right back in the quarterfinals next year with the opportunity for more.
â€śThe future is definitely bright for these guys,â€ť senior Ryan Greene said. â€śA lot of these kids matured this year and stepped up in big moments. Theyâ€™re going to be here for the next two to three years so St. Paul is going to be a team to watch out for in the next couple years and even after that. Itâ€™s just a winning mentality here. Thatâ€™s how itâ€™s always been.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org