Trojans experience turnaround season
Published 1:05 am, Friday, June 25, 2010
The Weston baseball team shattered all expectations this spring. After losing three seniors from last year's 6-14 squad, the team had its best season ever with an overall record of 16-8.
"I thought we could be OK this year, qualify for states, and probably get the seventh or eighth seed in SWCs," Trojans Coach Frank Fedeli said. Weston got the 13th seed in the 32-team Class M field and also reached SWCs, just like predicted.
However, things did not seem to be going Weston's way after starting the season with losses to Wilton (20-5) and Westhill (7-1). Yet the Trojans won eight of their next nine games -- including a 6-3 victory over Newtown at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport -- to bring their record to 8-3. Losses to Masuk, Stratford, and New Milford, all in one week, took some of the wind out of Weston's sails, but the Trojans ended their regular season with a six-game winning streak and a 14-6 record.
Weston had never won an SWC playoff game before this year but that changed with a win over Newtown in the first round. They almost defeated eventual-Class LL champion Pomperaug, who ended the season as the No. 1 team in the state, in the SWC semifinals, before losing 6-4 on a controversial call.
In the Class M State tournament, Weston beat Nonnewaug 6-1 before being shut out by eventual-champion Montville, 6-0. Nonetheless, this is the first season in which the Trojans have ever won two postseason baseball games.
Senior Mike McDonald, who was captain both this season and last and who will be playing at Oberlin College next year, led the team (and set a Weston record) with six home runs, 33 hits, 26 RBI, and 22 runs.
Classmate Ben Jaffee led the team with 14 steals (in 15 attempts), a .421 batting average, and a .478 on-base percentage (OBP), while James Jepsen was right up there with a .390 batting average and a .466 OBP. Also, captain Peter Krist finished second on the team with four home runs.
On the mound, McDonald (5-4, 41 strikeouts, 3.32 ERA) and captain Cody Nusbaum (5-3, 46 strikeouts, 3.43 ERA) anchored the rotation. In addition, Jepsen went 4-1 with 30 strikeouts in 29.2 innings, and junior J Jay Lane was a closer at the end of games with four saves, an ERA under .50, and a 24-5 strikeouts to walks, ratio.
McDonald was an All-SWC, All-State and was selected to the Connecticut Post All-Area team. Jaffee, Jepsen, and Krist were named to the All-Patriot Division team, while Nusbaum was an honorable mention.
Fedeli, along with assistant coaches Morgan Thompson and Chris Winkler, was proud of the things his team accomplished this spring. "Just about everyone stepped up this year, did just about whatever we asked of them, and had a never-say-die attitude to do what it took to get things done," he said. "Everyone connected and had each others' backs throughout the season."
Looking forward to next year, the team will have a number of holes to fill. With seven graduating seniors -- the three captains, Jaffee, Jepsen, Alec Joseph, and Zach Forzani -- there will be a lot of new faces in next year's lineup. However, there are some younger players who should be able to step in and contribute quickly to the team.
Lane, who Fedeli calls a "Lights-out reliever," will be captain alongside catcher Donny Santacaterina, who "filled a huge void behind the plate." Classmates Alex Merberg, Drew Clevenger, and Jacob Spencer will also be returning, as well as underclassmen Jim Sanzone, Max Molinsky, and Charlie Ameer. Sanzone stepped up in his first year as a full-time player (.329, seven doubles, 17 runs), and the other two played well in limited time.
If this year is any indication of the future, the Trojans will be back with a vengeance. Fedeli feels like this team won games that Weston would have lost in the past, because "The guys started believing in themselves and were never worried when they were down."