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Article Published January 8, 2021

East Haven U-10 Fall Ball Team Wins League Title

By By Dan Fappiano

A group of 16 youngsters from East Haven got an opportunity to compete for the town’s 10-U fall baseball team last year. East Haven posted a record of 9-1 on the season and capped off the campaign by winning its league championship.

East Haven faced teams from North Branford, Branford, North Haven, Cheshire, and Hamden during its season. After the town’s Little League season was canceled, East Haven’s ballplayers were able to compete in Annex League in New Haven before the 10-U fall ball squad was formed. Head Coach Peter Gennette’s team had less than a week of practice before playing its first game.

“It was a last-second thing to get the team together. The kids had a weekend to sign up. We did two practices that first week,” said Gennette. “Since I’ve already had a few of the kids, I knew who could pitch and who could catch. I had an idea of who could play where, but with the new kids, I just played them where I thought was best after seeing them in practice.”

The players on East Haven’s 10-U fall ball squad are Aiden Bruce, Chase Bussert, Vince Bussert, Mary-Alice Canney, Luke DeMartino, Lily Esposito, Ethan Foti, Sam Foti, John Gentile, Dontaye Greene, Luca Luliano, Ralph Luliano, Derek Madonna, Libby Madonna, Jake Mulligan, and Zoey Piscitelli. Coach Gennette was assisted by coaches John Esposito, Ralph Luliano, and Chuck Mulligan.

Playing each weekend, East Haven posted a regular-season record of 7-1 with its lone loss coming against Hamden. With pitch-count regulations in place, Coach Gennette wasn’t allowed to have the same player pitch on consecutive days, but he was able to find more people to pitch throughout the season, while also having some players try out new positions. Overall, Gennette felt pleased with the way his athletes adapted and performed in their new roles.

Following the regular season, the top four teams in East Haven’s division advanced to the postseason. East Haven entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and defeated No. 3 Branford in the first round. East Haven went on to face top-seeded Hamden in the title game and prevailed by a 5-2 score to walk off the field as fall ball champions.

“All the kids were excited about winning a championship. For a lot of them, it was their first time winning. For a lot of them, it was their first time in kid pitch,” Coach Gennette said. “They were all excited.”

Numerous players on East Haven’s roster couldn’t play baseball last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 16 kids signing up for the fall season, East Haven decided to field one team, instead of splitting them up into two separate clubs.

Some of East Haven’s players also competed in other leagues, meaning that Gennette was typically without three or four players each week. However, when the championship game came around, the entire team was together to vie for the title.

Coach Gennette felt that team chemistry proved one of East Haven’s biggest strengths. Gennette was happy to see everyone on the club mesh together as one.

“They all played together. They all got along well,” Gennette said. “They got along so well, we had to stop practice a few times to tell them to get their heads together. They’re kids. They got along.”

After seeing the high school baseball team lose its spring season, Gennette and his players were excited to be back on the diamond during the fall. Gennette said that the team’s parents were glad to their kids playing baseball again and making more friends.

“Even the parents were excited and happy, actually,” said Gennette. “A few of the parents said they didn’t care if their kid played two innings. As long as they’re out there playing and interacting with other kids, that’s all they cared about.”

Coach Gennette felt pleased that his players experienced the thrill of winning a championship. As those athletes move through the baseball ranks in East Haven, Gennette looks forward to seeing what else they can achieve.

“As long as they stick with it, I see a future for them,” Gennette said. “There is a lot of potential for them all.”