After two trips to finals, Wilton 12-U all-stars set sights on district title

After falling in the district championship in each of the last two years, this Wilton Little League 12-under all-star baseball team is hoping the third time will be the charm this year.

Wilton opens pool play in the District One tournament on Friday at noon, against Norwalk at Bill Terry Field at the Wilton Y.

The team reached the district finals two years ago as a 10-under team, and last year as an 11-under team. Its overall record in district play is 9-4.

“The last two years the core of the team has made it to the championship and we lost to two great teams. They gained a lot of experience and we hope to build on that,” said head coach Scott Gioffre. “They do have some confidence that they can go out on the field and play with anybody.”

This year’s team features 11 returning players — Nevin Belanger, George DiRocco, Owen English, Zarius Eusebe, Matthew Ferrante, Sam Gioffre, Hayden Klyver, Ryan Preisano, Connor Robertson, Quinn Stengrim and Shane Taubin. Newcomers this year are Tommy Walsh and George Hahn.

Bob Belanger and Mario Ferrante return as assistant coaches.

“It’s a pretty good team. I think we’re an excellent defensive team. We have a deep pitching rotation. We’re a decent hitting team. It’s just a matter of putting it all together,” said coach Gioffre. “We’re optimistic about our chances but we know it’s going to be a good group of teams.”

The pitching staff will be anchored by Belanger, Stengrim and Robertson, and can also rely on Klyver, Gioffre and Taubin.

“We’re confident we’ve got some depth there if we need more arms,” said coach Gioffre. “We have a great group of pitchers to choose from.”

Wilton’s other pool-play games will be next Tuesday against defending state champ Stamford National, at 7:30, and next Friday against Stamford American, also at 7:30. Both of those games will also be at Bill Terry Field.

The top two teams from pool play advance to the double-elimination playoff round.