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Head Coach Bob DeMayo and the North Haven baseball team played their first game in two years when the squad hosted Guilford for a Saturday matchup on April 10, winning the contest by an 8-3 score. Here, DeMayo talks shop with junior catcher Anthony Acampora during North Haven’s scrimmage versus West Haven on April 1. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior shortstop Ty Rooney hit a two-run double to help the North Haven baseball squad notch an 8-3 victory versus Guilford in its 2021 opener last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Owen Pincince is starting in right field and will also be giving North Haven some innings on the mound during the 2021 spring season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Cole Zalegowski is leading the North Haven baseball team as a senior captain alongside JJ Mazzaro this year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
After the 2020 spring season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Haven baseball Head Coach Bob DeMayo wanted nothing more than to see his athletes get a chance to take the field in 2021. On April 10, Coach DeMayo got exactly what he wanted as North Haven opened its spring season by hosting Guilford and came away from the game with an 8-3 victory.
DeMayo is entering his 63rd year as North Haven’s skipper. He was devastated when North Haven’s Class of 2020 seniors missed out on their opportunity to compete last spring. When the CIAC announced that there would be a season this year, DeMayo couldn’t wait to get out there and do what he loves most—teach young athletes how to become better baseball players.
“It was difficult for me to sit out, but what really bothered me was that we had kids who missed that final year. They waited so long for it, so that was tough for me to see and obviously tough for the kids,” said DeMayo. “So, it felt great to be able to come back and start all over again, just showing up and then running through that first day. These are typical North Haven kids who have a great attitude. I couldn’t ask for better enthusiasm or harder workers. It’s really been a joy for me.”
North Haven only has three seniors on its roster, and two of those athletes are leading the team as its captains. North Haven’s senior captains are pitcher JJ Mazzaro, who took the ball for the start on Opening Day; and Cole Zalegowski, the team’s starting third baseman. Mazzaro and Zalegowski are the only two athletes on the team who have any varsity experience in a North Haven uniform.
Mazzaro earned the win on the mound when North Haven defeated Guilford in its opener at DeMayo Ballfield, allowing two runs on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in four innings pitched. Zalegowski made a big contribution at the dish by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base to help North Haven get the win.
North Haven’s captains are typically voted on by the team’s athletes, but since there was no season last year, DeMayo decided to appoint his captains for the first time this spring. Based on what he’s seen so far, DeMayo feels confident that he made the right call in selecting Mazzaro and Zalegowski as his captains.
“JJ and Cole have been great leaders so far. They’ve done everything that I’ve asked them to do and are a good connection between the players and coaches,” DeMayo said. “I expect JJ to be the stopper who can go out there and give us a good number of innings. Cole is a guy that will come through a lot for us with the bat and play a great third base.”
North Haven’s other senior is AJ Maggiore, a transfer from East Haven. Maggiore picked up the save by tossing three solid innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk with three strikeouts, when North Haven defeated Guilford. Maggiore, who started the game as North Haven’s designated hitter, also went 1-for-3 with a run and a stolen base.
North Haven trailed Guilford 2-0 after the second inning, but Coach DeMayo’s club rallied by scoring two runs in each of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to notch the 8-3 victory. Guilford scored its final run of the game in the top of the sixth. This victory marked career win No. 916 for DeMayo, who has won five state titles as North Haven’s head coach.
In addition to Mazzaro and Maggiore, North Haven’s pitching staff features junior lefty Ryan Balzano, junior Alex Bauman, and junior Owen Pincince. North Haven also has a few other juniors and some sophomores who will be vying to get innings on the hill throughout the season.
North Haven has two catchers on its roster this year. North Haven’s backstops are junior Anthony Acampora and sophomore Tyler Harger. Both athletes played in the Guilford game with Harger hitting a two-run double.
Junior Mike Anquillare is starting at first base and batting cleanup for North Haven. Anquillare, who can also play the outfield, began his season on a good note by going 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, and a stolen base versus Guilford.
Junior Sal Giamo is starting at second base and can also slide over to shortstop if need be. DeMayo said that Giamo plays good defense and does “the little things” on the field. In the Guilford game, Giamo drew three walks, scored a run, and also stole a base.
North Haven’s starting shortstop is junior Ty Rooney, who is also the team’s leadoff hitter. Rooney, whom DeMayo described as a “very good defensive shortstop,” was 1-for-3 with a two-run double to go with a walk and a stolen base in the Guilford game.
Zalegowski is starting at third base and may also see some time on the mound for North Haven this season.
Moving to the outfield, North Haven has Balzano starting in left field, junior Chris Hager patrolling center field, and Pincince playing right field. All three players are also pitchers. Balzano went 2-for-3 with a run and a stolen base against Guilford. Hager was 1-for-3 with a two-run single and a run scored, while Pincince went 1-for-3 with an RBI double, a run, and a walk to help Coach DeMayo’s squad prevail.
Everyone who played for North Haven made a contribution in its win over Guilford. While his team may be short on experience, DeMayo likes the fact that he has a versatile roster with numerous athletes who can play multiple positions—an attribute that perfectly suits his mix-and-match coaching style. DeMayo also said that North Haven will be bringing some speedy wheels to the field this season.
“We have a great deal of speed. This is one of the fastest teams I’ve ever coached. They can really light it up out there. We also have some depth in certain areas,” said DeMayo. “Our philosophy is for our pitchers to throw strikes and keep games close. Then on offense, we can get guys on and do things like bunt and run or hit and run. We were able to do that in some of our scrimmages. We just ran all over the place. It fits into our style of baseball.”
The other athletes on North Haven’s varsity roster are junior Shaun Murray, a pitcher/third baseman; along with junior Derek Novicki (pitcher/first base), junior Tyler Signore (first base/third base), junior Chris Tobin (pitcher/second base/third base), sophomore Antonio Fusco (pitcher/center field), sophomore Jack Martineau (pitcher/first base/third base), and sophomore Steven Vincent (pitcher/outfielder).
North Haven’s coaching staff has a bit of a different look this year. Mike Proto, the longtime head coach of the freshman team, is now working alongside DeMayo as an assistant coach with the varsity squad. Justin Falcon, who was previously the JV head coach, is also joining the varsity coaching staff.
North Haven’s new JV coach is Kevin Fuggi, a program alum. The new freshman coach is Angelo Romano, who was head coach of the Max Sinoway All-Stars Little League Majors baseball team that won the District 4 title and then advanced to the state championship in 2019. Andrew Lucey is North Haven’s statistician.
North Haven has 18 regular-season games on its schedule this year, as opposed to the 20 games that the team would typically play. As always, Coach DeMayo’s goals are for North Haven to win its division title and qualify for the playoffs, which is slated to feature both the SCC Tournament and the Class L State Tournament. This spring will mark the first time that the CIAC is holding state competitions since the winter of 2020, when the tournaments were abruptly canceled because of COVID.
There are plenty of unknowns for North Haven as it begins the 2021 season with a team that features minimal varsity experience. However, one thing Coach DeMayo knows for sure is that North Haven’s players are going to show up every day with the demeanor that’s needed to shine on the diamond.
“They have a great attitude. They know they have to improve, they will get experience as the season goes on, and we will see where it takes us,” DeMayo said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see how it develops and, hopefully, everyone steps up.”