By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The St. Paul Catholic scholastic baseball team is one step away from getting into the state championship round and on Tuesday, June 7, the fate of the squad will be decided.
It’s time for the semifinals of the CIAC state tournament round and here’s who the Falcons will be contending with come Tuesday:
Class S – Semifinal Round
The Game: No. 24 Old Lyme (13-11) vs. No. 4 St. Paul Catholic (18-6)
Location: Beehive Stadium, New Britain, 1:30 p.m.
Road to the Semifinals – Old Lyme: The squad finished the regular season at 10-10, going 3-0 in postseason play and upsetting three teams along the way. In the opening round, the Wildcats beat No. 9 Sacred Heart 7-3 while in second round play, Old Lyme snuck past pesky No. 25 Terryville, 2-1. And then in the quarters, Lyme got its chance against top seeded Oxford and knocked off the squad by a 4-3 final to set-up the semifinal date with No. 4 St.Paul Catholic.
The Regular Season: At one point, the Wildcats were 3-7 and weren’t going anywhere. But the school, a member of the Shoreline Conference (three of those squads are in the Class S semifinals by the way), was battle tested and at 6-10, finished the regular season with four wins, losing in the first round of the conference tournament, and winning three additional games in state tournament play – going 7-1 during that eight-game stretch before bumping into the Falcons.
Who to Watch: The squad has 10 seniors and experience to boot. Pitcher Will Visgilio can chuck the ball and could be available for Tuesday after winning it against Oxford. Others to watch includes Cooper St. Germain, Griffin Powers, Alex Bellas, Brett Hartmann, and Callum Sawden.
Road to the Semifinals – St. Paul Catholic: The Falcons rolled into the quarterfinal round after dismantling No. 29 Coginchaug 15-6 to open Class S play. In second round action, St. Paul Catholic blanked No. 13 Notre Dame-Fairfield 4-0 before getting a stern challenge from No. 12 Portland in a quarterfinal tilt. The Falcons held on to win it, 6-5, in a amazing contest played last Saturday in Bristol. Now, it sets up a semifinal date against Old Lyme.
The Regular Season: After going 11-1 to start the campaign, the Falcons went 4-5 over its final nine games – including a tough one-run loss in the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament to Wolcott. In terms of baseball, when looking at squads such as Oxford, Wolcott, and Watertown, the NVL is hardly a pushover league.
Who to Watch: St. Paul Catholic has a three-headed monster on the mound in the form of Connor Crean, Wes Lahey and Drew Owsianko. Lahey threw the last game so expect Crean, the Southern New Hampshire University bound pitcher, to be ready to throw at Beehive with Lahey in reserve if needed. The Falcons plays a state championship caliber defense that includes the likes of senior Ben Mazzone at shortstop and Mike Dombrowski at third. Jackson Hines is a lethal leadoff batter and don’t forget about ‘Big’ Chadd Richardson both behind and at the plate with a bat in his hands. The group also includes Wayne Sharp, Nick Morrell, and Zach Parent.
Bristol Observer Prediction: St. Paul Catholic high school defeats Old Lyme 8-4 to play for the Class S Championship (against No. 3 Morgan in what will turn into a 2015 Class S quarterfinal rematch), its first ever title tilt in the Class S format from Palmer Field in Middletown. Overall, it would be the Falcons’ third championship game (St. Paul Catholic is 2-0 in title games all-time).