After Sheehan beat Amity twice, No. 1 East Catholic and No. 2 Montville to win the Class M title, Titans coach Matt Altieri knew the top team in the state should be his guys. And he thought his team did all the convincing any team could do.
“That’s for you guys to decide,” he said. “But no matter how it comes out in my heart and in these guy’s hearts they proved it.”
And the GameTimeCT / Register Top 10 Poll voters agreed.
The Titans received 14 out of 17 first-place votes and finished with 504 points to snag the top spot. Sheehan was No. 9 prior to the tournament.
Fellow Southern Connecticut Conference foe Amity, which became the first team in Class LL history to three-peat, was second with three first-place votes and 482 points. Third was Class M runner-up Montville, which Sheehan defeated 5-0 in the final, with 414 points and no first-place votes.
“SCC,” Altieri said. “It’s all about the SCC.”
This season it was all about Sheehan. The Titans went 16-4 during the regular-season, split the season series with Shelton in addition to sweeping the Spartans, won a share of the SCC Housatonic Division with the Gaels and closed the regular-season on a seven-game winning streak.
“We just kept rolling and kept winning,” said catcher Paul Gozzo. “And challenging adversity, too, whenever we got those losses.”
Sheehan became adept at bouncing back from losses in 2015. The Titans never lost back-to-back games, the only SCC team to achieve such a feat.
Sheehan won four straight after falling to Foran on April 9, won two in a row after losing to Shelton April 22, two more consecutive victories after a loss to West Haven April 27 and the aforementioned seven-game winning streak proceeded a 12-11 loss at Cheshire on May 4.
The Titans lost more in April (three) than in May (one). Recently, Altieri said it took he and his coaching staff until May to figure out how to use his deep pitching staff of Turner French, Zach Hart, Tyler Daly and Brandon Rentas.
Once the Titans figured it out, it was lights out for opposing teams. With the exception of the early May loss to Cheshire, Sheehan only gave up an average of 1.6 runs in May.
“I think we definitely made a statement about how well our pitching is and how deep it went,” said Hart, who collected wins in both the semifinals and final.
Sheehan’s statement was made even clearer during the state playoffs. The Titans only gave up three runs in five games, pitched three shutouts and held East Catholic, which entered the tournament averaging 9.6 runs per game, to a season-low one run.
To put the Titans pitching dominance in perspective, Sheehan gave up the fewest runs of any team that played at least five Class M state tournament games since New London ran roughshod through the class in 2009, giving up one run and posting four shutouts to win the title.
Offensively, Sheehan was just as good. The Titans posted six runs-per-game and in the postseason kept it going at 5.8 per contest. The Titans’ game plan was to score first and fast, which it did in all five of its tourney wins.
After all of the team’s accomplishments, its prowess on the mound, efficient scoring and taking down the top two team’s in the state, Sheehan was No. 1 to Aliteri no matter what.
“Without a doubt,” he said.