Legion baseball summer retreat for teammates
Spring is about to turn into summer, and one by one cars turn into the parking lot. Bats and gloves are retrieved from the back seat or trunk, and everyone heads toward the baseball diamond.
For Trumbull Post 141 American Legion players and coaches alike, a summer retreat has started.
For Luke Waldek, fresh off red-shirting for the Minnesota State-University Mankato Mavericks, it is a chance to reconnect.
“It is exciting, it’s fun and it’s great to be back to play for coach (Brett Conner) and be with the guys,” said Waldek, when asked what drives him to play Legion baseball. “I love being back playing on this field (Trumbull High). We’ve been together forever.”
Waldek’s Purple and Gold teammates reached the Division II semifinals and earned their third top-three finish in a row in 2014.
“It is a great team and I’m playing behind a fifth-year senior,” said Waldek, who is majoring in economics. “The challenge was balancing baseball and academics. You have to stay focused. Playing this summer will get me ready for the fall.”
There is a limited shelf life at all levels: Little League, Babe Ruth, scholastic baseball.
“There are special moments to be made,” said Conner with a nod toward the dugout following Post 141’s 8-2 victory over Bridgeport on June 21. “They are here to compete for a run in the state tournament, but also to share this time.”
Conner, whose team is off to a 9-2 start, has coached a majority of the team throughout their summers playing baseball.
“To have the opportunity to see these players grow as players, and individuals, is something I’ll never take lightly,” he said.
“Mark Windsor, Bob Sorrentino and Marco Garamella (assistants) are here every day giving these kids the best coaching possible.”
From Nikko Arganese to Stanley Wolpiuk, each rostered player has a story to tell.
Arganese played at Trumbull High for coach Phil Pacelli, and now attends Lynn University, while Wolpiuk pitched at St. Joseph, spent a year at the Gunnery School, and this season will pitch for Central Connecticut State University.
Matt Baccaro, a pitcher from THS will attend the University of Rhode Island.
Tim Keckler, another quality hurler, will attend Southern New Hampshire.
Mark Hirschbeck, an infielder for coach Jim Chaves at St. Joseph, will play baseball at Central Connecticut.
Simon Whiteman, who attends Fairfield Prep, is a jack-of-all-trades. A top-flight leadoff batter, he will return to play for coach Rudy Mauritz' Jesuits next season.
Catcher Zach Sagar is headed to Western Connecticut, as is THS teammate Mat DeRienzo.
Jake Levison has signed to play at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jeff Hage will attend UConn.
Carl Johnson has returned from the University of Richmond to play for Post 141 as a designated hitter/first baseman.
Joe Nemcheck, Brian Hnatuk, Matt Fasoli, Dino DiGirolamo, Kris DiCocco and Giatano Ciambriello will all play another year at the high school level.
Town of Trumbull baseball, from Little League on up, has joined together to guarantee that the best players don’t have to stray too far to have fun, be noticed by college scouts, and play winning baseball.
“We have college guys, we have high school stars that were the best on their teams, and we have another group of guys hungry to use this summer to make a name for themselves,” Conner said.
“These guys get excited to play. Why not? It’s summer baseball at it’s best.”