High school baseball tournament preview
1 Ben DeLaubell, Cheshire: The ace of the Rams; staff has made his case as one of the top arms in the state. Runs will be at a premi- um any time he takes the bump. 1 Will Lucas, Fairfield Prep: Lucas does it all, playing stellar SS, mashing the ball at the plate and serving as a super closer by finishing out games with multiple-inning efforts.
1 Sean O’Malley, Darien: The Blue Wave DH has established himself as one of the best hitters in the state with his ability to hit for power but also to take what is given, slapping balls the other way, at times. 1 Will Nowak, South Windsor: Throwback SS/P has led South Windsor in every way. He swings an elite bat, is like a vacuum in the field and is perhaps the best hurler in the CCC. 1 Mike Burrows, Waterford: There are a lot of great pitchers in the state, Burrows is probably the best. Multiple no-hitters, 10+ strikeouts nearly every time he toes the rubber. The UConnbound senior is legit.
CAN STAPLES REPEAT
The defending Class LL champions are back with one of the best 1-9 lineups in the state anchored by slugger Chad Knight who has power to all fields. The Wreckers path back to Palmer begins with a FCIAC regional featuring the winner of Staples-Westhill facing the winner of Darien-Danbury. The rest of the LL field is pretty stacked. Newtown has never won a state baseball title and have not played in a final since 1985. This team has the talent to get there. Ridgefield has as good of a starting rotation as any team in the state, New Milford is a dangerous 11 seed and, of course, Amity is always a threat once the Class LL tournament begins.
PUBLIC VS PRIVATE
In a conversation that comes up prior to every state tournament in Connecticut, will the public schools be able to overcome private schools. In LL, it is Prep standing as one of the few private schools in a class loaded with stellar public-school teams. As we go lower, the private schools and their small enrollments have more impact in Classes M and S. St. Joe’s leads the private pack in M but it comes in as a
12 seed. The small public schools in Class S face the biggest challenge with Holy Cross, St. Paul, Notre DameFairfield and Immaculate all with shots to win it.
CHALK IN CLASS L
While lower seeds like Branford, Platt and Watertown could make runs, it is the top four seeds in Class L drawing everyone’s attention. No. 1 Windsor are winners of 13 in-state games in-a-row and the Warriors are primed for a run to Palmer Field. A potential showdown with No. 4 Waterford looms in the semis. The SCC was loaded this year and No. 2 North Haven emerged with only four losses. Also out of the SCC, the No. 3 Hand Tigers have felt they were title contenders all season. They will get their chance to prove it, now.
CLASS S REVENGE
For St. Paul, the perfect revenge for a 1-run loss to Holy Cross in season finale would be beating them for a trip to Palmer. The Falcons feel they have been overlooked this season. The Class S tournament is the perfect place to state their case. Running through Class S will not be easy with teams like Notre Dame-Fairfield who did not lose two-in-a-row all season in tough SWC; Old Saybrook who will be playing at home until the semifinals, which will be a big boost for the Rams; and Immaculate, another team out of the SWC that can go deep in Class S.
LUCK OF THE DRAW
A potential Second Round game in Class M could be worthy of championship Saturday had the seeding worked out differently. No. 5 Montville out of the ECC and No. 12 St. Joseph out of the FCIAC both have legitimate aspirations of playing at Palmer Field but will first have to get by each other if they both can win their openers. Both teams have spent time in the GametimeCT top 10 this season and both have proven they can beat top teams in the state.
Darien’s Sean O’Malley connects on a double in the first inning during a game against Stamford earlier this season.
Westhill’s John MacDonald makes his delivery in the first inning against Darien on May 11.
Staples pitcher Chad Knight makes his delivery against Darien in the top of the second inning of an FCIAC baseball game on May 4.
Fairfield Prep’s Will Lucas does it all for the Jesuits, a team that is the newly crowned SCC champion.