East Haven Starts Season with 8-5 Win Over Branford
Senior captain Nick Furino and the East Haven baseball team claimed an 8-5 victory over Branford in their season opener at The Pit on April 12. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
First baseman CJ Lombardi is leading the East Haven baseball team as a senior captain alongside Nick Furino in the 2021 spring season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Seniors outfielders Alec Madureira and Trey Garea both had key RBI to help the Easties defeat Branford by an 8-5 score in their first game of the year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Peyton Torre earned his first varsity win by pitching two solid innings when the Yellowjackets notched an 8-5 victory against Branford last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
After seeing the 2020 season get canceled, the East Haven baseball team entered the 2021 campaign with just one player who had any varsity experience on its roster. With a young club on the field, Head Coach Butch Johnson said that this year’s Yellowjackets are a hardworking group and have numerous underclassmen who ready to make an impact at the varsity level.
When the Easties took the field for the first time this spring, they were excited to be back on the diamond and playing baseball. East Haven played three games during its first week, earning an 8-5 win versus Branford 8-5 before taking losses against Amity (14-1) and Hamden (10-0) for a record of 1-2.
On April 12, the Yellowjackets opened their 2021 season with a home matchup against Branford at The Pit. The game was tied 5-5 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. East Haven scored one run in the fifth and two more runs in the sixth to claim an 8-5 victory.
Senior Nick Furino started on the mound and pitched the first five innings for East Haven. Freshman Peyton Torre pitched the final two innings, shutting out Branford to earn his first varsity win. Senior shortstop Trey Garea and junior catcher Dom Golia both had two RBI, while senior Alec Madureira also had a key RBI in the victory.
“We put some hits together and had a 5-0 lead, then it disappeared. Alec Madureira had a safety squeeze to put us ahead 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Trey Garea had a double in the bottom of the sixth and that sealed it,” Coach Johnson said. “It was nice to bounce back after Branford had come back and tied it. It was a nice win.”
Following the win against Branford, East Haven played road games against Amity and Hamden on April 14 and 17, respectively. The Yellowjackets took a 14-1 loss to Amity and a 10-0 defeat versus Hamden. Despite the tough losses, Coach Johnson said that the Yellowjackets were facing two of the better teams in the SCC and that those games gave his squad an idea of what it would take to play at their level.
“We ran into two of the better teams in the state, let alone the league. Amity’s bats were unbelievable. We’ve got a long way to go to compete with them right now,” said Johnson. “Hamden was the same thing. They’re loaded. We’re trying to find our pitching. We didn’t hit the ball well and made a few errors. We’re young, but you’ve got to tip your hat. Those are the two best teams we’re going to face.”
This year’s Easties are led by two senior captains in Furino, a pitcher who also plays first base and is the team’s lone returning varsity player; and CJ Lombardi, a first baseman. Coach Johnson felt that it was a good decision to name Furino and Lombardi as his captains due to the constant leadership they’ve brought to the program during their time with the Yellowjackets.
“They bring leadership. Nick was our only varsity returner and has been a good pitcher for three years. He was a captain on the basketball team. All the kids looked up to him,” Johnson said. “CJ is that quiet leader that does everything asked of him, whether he is playing or not. He’s just does the right thing. The kids really respect both of those kids.”
The remainder of East Haven’s senior class includes Garea and outfielder Madureira, along with pitcher/outfielder Tom Sabin, infielders Jake Cillo and Devin Guiliani-Santiago, outfielder Andrew Voira, and Sam Cronk, who can play first, second, or third base.
With Furino the only returning player with varsity experience, Coach Johnson is counting on numerous underclassmen to make their mark this season. East Haven is currently starting two freshmen: Torre at shortstop and PJ Carrangelo in right field. Johnson is also expecting freshman pitcher/outfielder Mason McCarroll to have an impact once he returns from an injury.
The Easties’ sophomore class includes utility man Jack Angelo, catcher William Hay, infielders Aaron McIntyre and Ryan Vallie, and first baseman Rocco Lombardi. Johnson is happy that many of the underclassmen can see varsity playing time right away, and he feels excited about the overall future of the program.
“It’s going to be great. We have two freshmen starting and could have possibly had three,” said Johnson. “The future looks good.”
Coach Johnson is looking for the Easties to continue improving in all facets of the game as the season unfolds. Johnson knows that the Yellowjackets are going to see tough competition every game in the SCC and that they will need to keep working on their hitting, pitching, and fielding in order to succeed.
As East Haven looks for the right combination, Johnson feels confident in his roster and believes that the team is moving in a positive direction. The Yellowjackets may have a young team, but Johnson thinks that they can be competitive and earn a berth in the Class L State Tournament this year.
“I hope it’s a learning experience. I hope we get our seven wins and make the states,” Johnson said. “I hope they have fun along the way and learn the game a little bit. They’re a good bunch of kids. They work hard.”