Colin Keyes bringing the right stuff to UNH

Colin Keyes will tell you he was just put in a good situation and playing with a great team, but Trumbull High baseball coach Phil Pacelli has other thoughts on how Keyes was offered and signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of New Haven.

“I knew who Colin Keyes was long before he entered Trumbull High School,” said Pacelli of his standout, who signed with the Chargers in the early signing period in November.

“He had tremendous success under Coach (Mike) Buswell, whose Babe Ruth team advanced to the World Series. He had experience in big games before, so I was comfortable handing him the ball as a sophomore to pitch our FCIAC championship game against top ranked Greenwich in 2012.

“His composure in that game was remarkable and he has gotten better ever since. To say that Colin has been a key ingredient to our success that past two seasons would be an understatement.

“Colin is a winner, period. He possesses qualities of a successful pitcher that you can’t teach. His toughness and work ethic are unmatched, and as one of our captains this season, we will look to him to show the younger players how to go about things.

“On the rare occasion when he may not have his best stuff, he keeps grinding out innings and finds ways to keep us in the game.

“Colin has a knack for making the most of his opportunities, and I expect him to do the same as he moves on to the University of New Haven.

“When all is said and done Colin will have left a lasting mark on our baseball program, I know he will continue to do the same at the University of New Haven.

“New Haven has a long history and tradition and I am very confident that Colin will do great things there. They are getting a great kid from a great family.”

New Haven is coached by Chris Celano, who in two years at the helm has amassed a record of 59-35-1 (.626) with the Chargers.

In 2013, UNH went 34-16 and won its first-ever Northeast-10 Championship in five seasons as a member of the conference.

Keyes, a 6-1, 180-pound right-hander with a 3.47 cumulative GPA, will study accounting, following in his dad Joe’s footsteps.

“I saw the school, it has a great academic programs and is always very competitive in Division II,” Keyes said. “I can picture myself there and there was no need to look elsewhere.”

Keyes first credits his parents for his success.

“My mom (Cecelia) always told me to keep things simple,” he said. “I know she is nervous at all our games, but seeing her there reminds me to relax.

“My dad is involved in everything, but not obsessed. He was the one who stressed to me to lay off the curveball until my arm fully developed.

“That gave me more time to work on my circle change, which is always my go-to pitch.

“I hope to get my velocity up on my pitches, but I believe that will come in time. I’m still developing my curve.”

After his parents, Keyes pointed to his coaches as preparing him to compete.

“Coach (Eric) August is my pitching coach at Trumbull and called all the pitches. He knows my rhythm and what’s working. We sit between innings and go over the lineup.

“Brian Stone is my offseason pitching coach, and as a UNH grad and a sixth-round pick in the Major League draft, has really been a great help.

“Coach Pacelli does a great job getting the team ready. He keeps everyone level-headed and on task.

“I’m very excited about this coming season. We lose eight or nine starters, but I think we have a tight group we all re working hard.”

Keyes came up to the high school level as a shortstop and a pitcher, where he has started at both positions for three years.

“The great thing about this town is that all the youth programs are successful and the players take that thought process to high school,” he said.

“Through Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legion or the travel programs, players receive great coaching.”

As a sophomore, when the Eagles finished No. 8 in the state, Keyes posted a 5-1 record with a 2.06 ERA. He pitched the Eagles to the FCIAC title with the win over Greenwich, and also defeated Staples of Westport twice, once in relief of Gerald Speigel. At the plate, he batted .357.

As a junior, Keyes batted .347 with 13 RBIs as he split time between shortstop and designated hitter. He defeated St. Joseph, 1-0 in eight innings, knocking in the only run

On the mound, Keyes went 5-2, with an 0.90 ERA, including a complete-game four-hitter against Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals.

He had a hit and scored the Eagles’ only run in a 2-1 loss to Danbury High in finals.

In the FCIAC quarterfinals, he had a three-run double to help defeat New Canaan.