This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published August 10, 2017
Whether he was getting on base from the leadoff spot, corralling ground balls around the infield, or even stepping on the mound when his team was short on arms, Danny Cannavaciolo proved an integral figure in the success of the North Haven Junior American Legion baseball squad this summer.
Danny debuted on the Junior Legion circuit last year and helped Post 76 get on a winning track following a few difficult seasons. After winning the team’s Batting Award in 2016, Danny continued contributing to North Haven’s resurgence this year, and one of the biggest ways he did that was by hitting .330 for the Post 76 Juniors, who placed second in Zone 2 en route to making states for the second straight campaign.
“Danny has been a big part of it, even last year. His key thing for us is his ability to get on base,” Head Coach Pete Katynski says. “In both seasons, Danny hit over .300, and that’s the name of the game. I need guys to get on for other hitters to produce and, if Danny doesn’t get on, we don’t score as many runs and don’t win as many games.”
Danny, who is going into his junior year at North Haven High School, started out his sophomore season batting low in the order for the Indians’ JV team, but eventually got bumped up to the No. 2 hole. With the Junior Legion squad, Danny batted leadoff throughout the season and liked being the guy who put the gears in motion for the Post 76 offense.
“My main goal was to try and get on base, hit the ball hard, and do whatever I could to score runs for the team. I think I did a pretty good job, and I enjoyed batting leadoff,” Danny says. “If you start the game with a hit or get on base, you set up your teammates with a chance to drive you in, get the game rolling, and get things started.”
North Haven started out a little slow this summer, but turned the corner by sweeping a doubleheader from Orange behind a pair of one-run victories, with Danny contributing seven hits between the two games. Post 76 was a force in Zone 2 from that point on as Danny and company stormed toward their second consecutive State Tournament berth.
After dropping its opening contest in states, North Haven faced Wilton for an elimination game and trailed by a run entering the final inning. Following Christian Somma’s leadoff walk, Danny dropped down a sacrifice bunt on which he reached first base. Somma later scored the tying run on a wild pitch, after which Ryan Sullivan singled home Danny for a 5-4, walk-off win.
“It was cool. My teammates were congratulating me and Ryan, and it felt good to win that game after we had lost to Oakville. We wanted to come back and win the second game, and winning like that felt especially good,” says Danny. “It showed that our team doesn’t give up. We compete in every single game, and we’re never out of it. We always try our best to come back, push runs across however we can, and it worked out.”
Danny started at second base for both his high school and Legion teams this year, but he also saw time at shortstop and third with Post 76. Katynski says that Danny’s versatility was a huge help to the club, and the coach credits him for how he improved his range at his three infield positions.
Katynski also praises Danny for how he stepped up a at position that he barely ever plays. When Post 76 hosted West Haven for a doubleheader on June 29, Katynski needed a pitcher for the second game and called upon Danny, who hadn’t toed the rubber all season. Danny responded by tossing a one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts to lead North Haven to a 10-0 victory.
“I pitched a lot when I was younger, and it’s not something I’m focused on now, but I’m glad to help my team in any way I can. If they want to put me on the mound, I’m more than happy to do that,” Danny says. “After the first game, coach came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to pitch the second game?’ I was surprised, and I said, ‘Sure.’ I felt good that game. I was throwing hard, my curve was working well, and I was getting guys out.”
With a few solid Legion seasons under his belt, Danny is aiming to take the next step and play for the Post 76 Seniors next summer. And of course, what up-and-coming North Haven ballplayer doesn’t want to compete for Head Coach Bob DeMayo and the Indians at the varsity level? Danny certainly does, and he’s looking forward to getting that opportunity in his junior year. Danny feels that consistency at both the plate and in the field is the biggest key in his quest to earn a varsity nod.
“Next year, I want to do what I can to make sure I make the varsity team. I really want to show my ability and get my chance to become a starter, hopefully,” says Danny. “North Haven and Coach DeMayo have a long history of winning, and so it would mean a lot, and it’s very important to me to show that I can be a starter on the team. I think it would show that I can get the job done.”