It’s still early. But if there’s ever an American Legion baseball team who looks like state championship contenders after playing only seven games, look no further than Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland.
And here’s why.
Pitching. Pitching. And more pitching.
Their real name is RCP and they extended their winning streak to six games after sweeping Glastonbury on Sunday.
But here’s the cool part: RCP didn’t allow a single run in all six contests. Six straight shutouts. That’s a lot of goose eggs.
A year ago another team was shutting teams down at an alarming rate in this wood bat era. It was Branford Post 83, which rode the arms of John Amendola, who just pitched Notre Dame-West Haven to the Class L state title; Ben Criscuolo, the former Xavier hurler; Greg Zullo, a former Green Knight; Branford High’s Nick DeBroi and North Branford High aces Nick Perrelli and Mike Schettino, all the way to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.
That was Branford’s fourth trip to the World Series.
But before RCP can even dream about Shelby, they’ve got to win a state title first. They came close two seasons ago, finishing as state runners-up to Milford. Last year, RCP’s junior team reached the state finals before losing to Fairfield.
While RCP takes aim at its first state title this summer, head coach Jay Hickey’s roster is now loaded with players who’ve performed in some of the spring’s biggest games while leading their respective high school teams to state championships, players from state champion Rocky Hill (2014, Class M), state champion Cromwell (2012, Class S) and state champion Portland (2014, Class S).
RCP’s deep pitching core includes Cromwell’s Big Three of Logan Lessard, Jake Regula, and Tucker Lord; Rocky Hill’s Tom Seaver, Dave Sevigny, and Chris Bouchard; and Portland’s Cole Ogorzalek.
Hickey can also call on 2013 Cromwell grads Christian Budzik and Alex Ramirez.
It’s one of those deep, talented staffs that can get you through the dog days of July and August.
Also bolstering the RCP lineup are Rocky Hill’s Josh Zawisa, Brendan Sullivan, and Trevor Whalen; Cromwell’s Kevin Radziewicz, Corey Baldwin, and Jack Schmaltz; Portland’s Nick Stokke; and Wethersfield’s Matt Letizio.
For years, Branford Post 83 had talented, pitching rich teams that always seemed to fall short at tournament time.
But they broke through in 2005, winning their first state title behind ace lefthander Eddie Bethke and a potent lineup that featured Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt batting eighth. Branford also captured the Northeast Regionals that summer and nearly won the whole darn thing at Rapid City (S.D.), in the shadows of Mount Rushmore.
Could this be RCP’s breakthrough season?
Since moving from Zone 3 to Zone 7 in 2006, RCP has a won-lost mark of 144-35 in league play with five Zone titles, including back-to-back crowns in 2012 and 2013.
But there seems to be some magic in the air this summer at Monnes Field.
It’s an RCP team that is armed…and ready to throw more goose eggs.