Wilton Post 86 baseball team looks for another state berth
Even though some key contributors have departed, Ian Thoesen is hopeful that his team can make it three straight.
"We qualified for the state tournament the last two years, so our goal is to get back again," said Thoesen, the manager of the Wilton Post 86 American Legion senior (19-under) baseball team.
Wilton is off to a 3-2 start this season in Zone 4, which now includes nine teams playing in two divisions. Post 86 is in the four-team Southeast Division, along with Trumbull, Stratford, and Fairfield. Bridgeport was also expected to compete in the division but dropped out before the season started and forfeited its games.
Those forfeits to Wilton have accounted for Post 86's three victories so far this year. In the two games it has played, Wilton fell to Ridgefield, 4-1, on June 7 and Stratford, 3-1, last Sunday.
Wilton's roster includes three players who competed in college this spring: Jack DiNanno (Union), Jack Forgione (Post), and Ryan Gabriele (Franklin and Marshall). DiNanno is a catcher for Post 86, while Forgione plays first base and Gabriele is a centerfielder and pitcher.
"It's great to have those three guys playing for us," said Thoesen. "Having some college guys is a big help."
Also back are catcher Cole Judelson, outfielder Will Holmquist, and first baseman/pitcher Ben Olson, all of whom were seniors on this spring's Wilton High team. Judelson will play college baseball at Tampa.
Post 86's roster also includes shortstop Andrew Travers, third baseman/pitcher Ethan Weinberger, pitcher Nick Sheehan, first baseman John Walsh, outfielder Parker Ward, and catcher/infielder/pitcher Regan Kahal (all rising seniors at Wilton High), as well as pitcher/first baseman Brian Cipri (a rising junior).
Two players from Weston (which doesn't have a Legion team and has long partnered with Wilton) are also expected to contribute: Second baseman Daniel Ielusic and pitcher/third baseman Andrew Weinbrum, who will play college baseball at Gettysburg.
Another Weston player, centerfielder/pitcher Aidan Kyle, is out for the season with an injury.
Also in the mix are two players from Wilton — pitcher/outfielder/shortstop Chris Drummond and outfielder/pitcher Jordan Sayewitz — who are double-rostered with Post 86's junior (17-under) team.
"We have a good mix of older guys and younger guys," said Thoesen. "We also have a lot of arms, which is always important in Legion baseball."
Wilton received good pitching in its two on-field games, with Weinbrum and Gabriele limiting Ridgefield to four runs on six hits and Weinbrum limiting Stratford to three runs on nine hits. But Post 86 managed only one run in each game.
Holmquist provided both of Wilton's hits and drove in the lone run against Ridgefield, and Sayewitz had two of Post 86's three hits and the lone RBI against Stratford.
"Our hitting wasn't as good as our pitching," said Thoesen. "I think the guys were adjusting to using wood bats."
Notes: Five of the nine teams in Zone 4 will advance to the state tournament, which begins July 20. The two division winners qualify, along with three other teams based on records.