Three years ago East Catholic baseball coach Martin Fiori worked with former longtime Eagles skipper Jim Penders to put together a school record book.
When the compiling was finished and the media guide printed a few things stood out.
The first was something Fiori noticed.
In the history of East Catholic baseball, which began in 1964, only three players had ever recorded 100 career hits. It was a number he said was “hard to believe.”
But entering the 2016 season Titus was one of two players within 30 of reaching the century mark.
“I knew 30 hits was kind of a reach,” Fiori said. “Because 25 hits is a great season. So if he gets 30, wow, you have to have a pretty great season.”
He got 43.
The other memory of that record book was from Titus himself.
“My sophomore year I was looking in the book after we had our pictures done,” Titus said. “And it had the records in the back and I thought, ‘Man, I’d love to be a part of this some day.’”
After 15 career home runs, 31 doubles, 50 extra-base hits and 113 hits, the Bryant University bound shortstop is more than a part of the East Catholic record book, he basically authored it.
Throw in his .581 batting average from this season along with a .652 on-base percentage, 1.027 slugging percentage and 43 hits, Titus owns the school record in nearly every offensive category.
“Now looking at the records again,” Titus said. “It’s basically my name all over the place and that’s pretty cool. East Catholic has been there since 1961 and I basically rewrote the records and I think that’s definitely something to be proud of.”
If it wasn’t for an 0-for-4 showing in the first round of the Class M state tournament, the two-time Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year would have hit well over .600 this season. Even a 2-for-4 day would have lowered his batting average.
“At one point I was hitting about .650 on the year,” Titus said. “I can’t even do that in ‘MLB: The Show.’ It’s kind of crazy. Everything was falling, I was hitting the ball all over the place.”
“The numbers didn’t even seem like they were real compared to the other [players],” Fiori said. “That’s an insane high school season, especially in a league where you play 20-25 games.”
But the most telling stat from Titus’ 2016 season showcases not something he did, but something he didn’t do: strike out.
In the first game of the season at Penders Field in Stratford — christened in honor of the aforementioned Jim Penders’ father, who was also named Jim — Titus struck out twice. Over the next 20 games, including the state tournament, he struck out just once more. And he wasn’t just making contact, but hard contact nearly every at-bat.
“I was trying to do too much at the plate,” Titus said. “And I realized that if I try to to that than this season’s not really going to work for me.”
“Obviously I didn’t want to strike out two times a game every game,” Titus said. “So I went after pitches I knew I could handle and it ended up really working this year.”
Titus settled down after the first game of the season. He said he realized that baseball is just a game and just had fun with it the rest of the year.
“I never really took anything too seriously,” Titus said. “And just played the game it was supposed to be played.”
He worked the entire season on making his swing better and, after playing some of the top high school talent in the country last summer for the EvoShield Canes, he was sure he wouldn’t be over-matched at the plate.
“I just tried to go after pitches early in the count, really anything in the zone I was swinging at,” Titus said. “I knew there weren’t really many people who were going to be blowing the ball by me. I think I only got into a handful of two-strike counts, because anything that was around the strike zone I was swinging at. And almost all the time I was squaring it up, too. If I didn’t get a hit I was hitting it hard at someone.”
That high contact rate led to 11 of 14 walks being intentional and forced Fiori to make a decision.
“I considered leading him off so that people would pitch to him,” Fiori said. “So he hit second for us this year, and to be in the two hole and still have 29 RBIs, that’s crazy. What a season.”
He is playing this summer for the Bristol Blues of the Futures League, but can’t wait to step on campus in Smithfield, RI and get his collegiate career started.
“I can’t say enough good things about (Bryant) coach (Steve) Owens,” Titus said. “And I couldn’t be more excited to go up and start my career there.”
Bryant has won three of the last four Northeast Conference titles and had three players selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.
“The kids in my class are going to have some big shoes to fill,” Titus said. “But it’s definitely nice to see guys out of that program are getting drafted.”