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The Batter's Box provides the latest baseball news coverage of the area's top teams, prospects and happenings from around Connecticut's diamond.

Friday, July 19, 2013

GOOD EYE: American Legion sectionals preview

Senior sectionals 
American Legion Senior Sectionals begin Saturday. The road to the state crown begins here, but before it starts up, take a look at a Sectionals preview.

The Rules
The four winners to come out of the two 20 team divisions in a single elimination-style tournament advance to the double elimination tourney.

Our Teams
Northern Division: None.
Southern Division: West Haven, East Haven, Shelton, Orange, Branford, Guilford, Cheshire, Middletown.

The Breakdown
Day 1 Games (all at noon)
Team: West Haven
Zone: 2
Record: 13-14
Next game: Saturday at Meriden (14-10) of Zone 3 at Legion Field, Meriden.
The skinny: A 4-10 record on the road doomed West Haven and could be a bad omen with this game being on the road. So did giving up 121 runs to 109 scored this season. West Haven finished the season on a two-games slide and went 4-6 in its last 10. Meanwhile, Meriden only gave up 89 runs this season, good for third best in Zone 3. Meriden went 7-3 at home and also dropped its last two of the season.

Team: Shelton 
Zone: 2
Record: 15-12
Next game: Saturday vs. Wilton  (13-14) of Zone 4 at Shelton High, Shelton.
The skinny: Shelton went 12-2 at home, the only team with a better home record was 14-0 Branford. Shelton closed the season going 5-5 in its last 10 and its 87 runs against tally was good for third best in Zone 2. Wilton also kept runs off the board, only giving up 83. However, Wilton's issue was scoring runs, as the Zone 4 posted a zone-worst 78 runs. Wilton stumbled to the finish line, going 2-8 in its last 10.

Team: Guilford 
Zone: 3
Record: 13-11
Next game: Saturday at Danbury (17-10)   of Zone 5 at Danbury High, Danbury.
The skinny: Guilford put the runs up, scoring a Zone 3 second-best 141 runs. Guilford also closed the season on a five-game winning streak. It also went 7-3 in its last 10. Opposing Guilford is a Danbury team that went 10-3 at home this season. Danbury gave up 95 runs this season, too.

Day 2 (All games at 1)
Team: East Haven
Zone: 2
Record: 19-8
Next game: Sunday vs. Guilford/Danbury winner at East Haven High, East Haven.
The skinny: East Haven closed the season on a seven-game winning streak, matched only by Branford which also won seven. East Haven's 164 runs were also second best in the zone. East Haven is the only Zone 2 team with a better road record (10-2) than home record (9-6).

Day 3 (All games at 3:30)
Team: Middletown
Zone: 3
Record: 17-7
Next game: Monday vs. East Haddam/Ridgefield/Trumbull winner at Palmer Feld, Middletown.
The skinny: Middletown closed the season on a bad note, going 4-6 in its last 10. However, the sloppy finish does not negate Middletown's zone second best runs against total of 67. Middletown went 10-5 at home.

Team: Orange
Zone: 2
Record: 22-5
Next game: Monday vs. West Haven/Meriden/Norwalk winner at Orange
The skinny: Orange is arguably the second-best team in the state, with Branford earning the distinction as the Nutmeg state's best. Orange scored a Zone 2 best 197 runs and only gave up 53. Orange was consistent at home (11-3) and on the road (11-2) and closed the season on a five-game winning streak.

Day 4 (All games at 3:30)
Team: Branford
Zone: 2
Record: 26-1
Next game: Tuesday vs. East Haddam/Ridgefield/Trumbull/Middletown winner at Branford High, Branford
The skinny: Branford only gave up 15 runs all season. They collected shutout after shutout and closed the season on a seven-game winning streak. Arguably the state's best team.

Team: Cheshire
Zone: 3
Record: 22-2
Next game: Tuesday vs. Guilford/Danbury/East Haven/Oakville winner at Cheshire High, Cheshire
The skinny: Cheshire went a perfect 10-0 on the road and a solid 12-2 at home. The top team in Zone 3 only gave up 44 runs this season and closed the season going 8-2 in its last 10.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

GOOD EYE: Housatonic's Willy Yahn commits to UConn

Housatonic’s ace pitcher Willy Yahn has verbally committed to play baseball at UConn, two days after fellow Berkshire League player Zach Risedorf, of Northwestern, did the same.

“Basically it was whatever school was the best fit for me, the coaches were really great and I fell in love with the campus,” said Yahn, who like Risedorf, is going into his senior year. “It always fun playing with Zach, it was a plus.”

Yahn was looking at UConn along with, Virginia Tech, Boston College, the University of Maine and Stony Brook before deciding to stay in state.

Read more here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

GOOD EYE: Northwestern's Risedorf commits to UConn

After being looked at by big time baseball programs, Northwestern catcher Zach Risedorf has decided to stay in state, verbally committing to UConn.

“I really liked the campus,” said Risedorf. “It is also close to home, which was really important to me.”

Over the past year he was contacted by, and looked at, nine schools including Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, but UConn stood out to the soon to be senior.

“Coach (Jim) Penders, has done wonders with the program,” said Risedorf, who was named to the First-Team All-Berkshire League team after a stellar junior season. “He really wants to keep the best players in Connecticut.”
Read more here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

GOOD EYE: ND-West Haven John Amendola commits to Northeastern U

Notre Dame-West Haven  pitcher John Amendola, who will be a senior this fall,  said he committed to Northeastern University. The Division I Boston, Ma.,  school sought after the pitcher after he went 6-3 with a 96 strikeouts and a 1.23 ERA last season.
Amendola said in addition to Northeastern, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Conference, six or seven other schools were interested in him. He said Marist and Maine were his top choices with Northwestern. Fairfield University offered at the beginning of the summer, too. However, Amendola said Northeastern was the best place for him.
“It was the best fit for me academically, baseball-wise and will prepare me the best for my future,” he said.
Amendola, who is a starting pitcher on Branford’s 25-1 American Legion team, said he is glad to get this commitment out of the way.
“Now I can focus on legion and trying to help my team win a state title,” Amendola said. “I won’t have to fill out multiple applications in the fall.”
He said he will most likely major in finance or political science.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

GOOD EYE: East Haven's Nick Lamberti commits to UConn

East Haven outfielder Nick Lamberti committed to the University of Connecticut. The outfielder had another strong season, posting a .589 batting average and .740 on-base percentage with 21 stolen bases and 20 runs.
Lamberti, who will be a senior in the fall, said the scholarship offer is still being discussed and that he is going to use his senior year to decide what he will major in.
He was also getting looks from St. John's, Hartford and Southern Connecticut State University, but said he is pleased with his choice and happy to get this weight off his shoulders before his senior year.
"I'm really happy, now I can just go into every game and play like no one's watching me," he said. "I've already committed, I don't have to worry about anything."
The outfielder said defending Big East champion UConn's future is bright and he wants to be a part of it. He joins a long list of the state's best high school players to stay home and play for UConn. All-State players like Amity pitcher Sam Nepiarsky, Foran catcher Joe Zanghi and Fitch shortstop Aaron Hill have all decided to play for the Huskies.
"I think they've got a shot to go to the World Series in Omaha," Lamberti said. "They're in a new conference, new teams, a lot of travel. This is Division I baseball and its one of the best schools in the northwest."