Baseball: St. Joseph wants to round the bases in 2019
If the success of the past two season equates to a triple, this year’s St. Joseph High team is looking to hit a home run.
Coming off two straight runs to state tournament semifinals, the Cadets are striving to reach the pinnacle game.
A win in the championship contest? That would be a grand slam.
“Our goal is to always qualify for the FCIAC tournament,” head coach Jim Chaves said. “If you do this it means you have had a great regular season, which means you are in great position to host a state playoff game.
“We have made the state semifinals the last two years with a lot of these players. This year we hope to break through. For this to happen, we will need to be selfless and fully commit to one another.”
The Cadets went 16-9 overall and 10-6 in FCIAC play in 2018. They lost to Danbury, 1-0, in the conference quarterfinals and fell to Seymour in the Class M semis.
Second baseman Owen Horne and right-handed pitcher Antonio Ferraro graduated, leaving a couple of holes, but a wealth of experience is back in the Cadet dugout.
This year’s captains are third baseman Charlie Pagliarini, catcher Aaron Kirby, outfielder Stephen Paolini, left-handed pitcher Al Paolozzi, first baseman/lefty pitcher Jimmy Evans and right-handed hurler Ben Talbot.
Pagliarini, who has committed to Fairfield University, hit .338, with 25 hits, 29 RBI and five home runs as a junior.
Paolini, who has committed to Elon, batted .353, with 30 hits, 20 RBI, 40 runs scored, four homers and 18 stolen bases.
Kirby batted .319, with 23 hits, 22 RBI and 20 runs as a junior. He is playing at Gettysburg next year.
Jimmy Evans, who will bat third, is playing at Tufts next season. Evans hit .421, collected 32 hits and 25 RBI and scored 28 runs. Evans will also pitch.
Luke Kirby will start in the outfield. He is playing football and baseball at Gettysburg next year.
Hadyn Gourley is a top of the rotation starter, who will get at bats as designated hitter and see action at first base. Gourley hit .305, with 18 hits and 13 runs scored.
Paolozzi is also a top of the rotation starter. Committed to Bentley, he will see action at first and in the outfield when not pitching.
Carter Courbron will start at shortstop and Jack Wallace will start at second base.
Trent Price pitched a lot in relief last year and makes the transition to starter this spring.
Michael Chaves will get work as a starter or reliever this year. He missed last year due to injury.
Ryan Novitzki, Jesse Bike and Sean Yankocy will take the mound in multiple roles.
Will Diamantis will have the opportunity to earn a starting spot in the outfield. Jake Murphy will be a utility player.
“Our strength should be our experience with lots of returners,” coach Chaves said. “We should be solid offensively and have quality on the mound every game. Infield defense, especially up the middle, will need to grow as a strength as that is where we are starting two new players.
“We need to throw more strikes than we have the last two years. This will limit the other team’s free base runners and keep our pitch counts down.”
Darien, Staples, Trumbull and Ridgefield are tough FCIAC foes, and St. Paul provides an out-of-conference challenge for the Cadets.
“As a program we are all excited for this upcoming season, as we feel we let a huge opportunity slip through our fingers last year in both the FCIAC and state tournament. Anything less than deep runs in both would be considered a disappointment to everyone in our program,” coach Chaves said.
St. Joseph will host Bethel High Saturday at 11 a.m. and Hamden on Monday at 4 p.m.