Old Saybrook Baseball Claims Shoreline Title
As a first-year, first-time high school head coach, Ryan Fraser would’ve understood if there was some reluctance from the players on the Old Saybrook baseball team in terms of buying in to the coaching staff’s new system. However, once he set foot in the dugout, Coach Fraser found the complete opposite as the Rams instantly bought in and then worked together all season to bring home the Rams first Shoreline Conference championship since the 1980s.
Old Saybrook claimed the Shoreline title by posting a 4-2 victory versus Valley Regional in the conference final on May 27. The Rams went on to compete in Class S State Tournament and took a 5-2 loss against Windsor Locks in the first round. Old Saybrook finished the 2022 campaign with an overall record of 17-5, marking a huge improvement from when the team won 5 games last year.
After defeating Old Lyme and Cromwell in the first two rounds, 2nd-seeded Old Saybrook took on No. 1 seed Valley Regional in the championship game of the Shoreline Conference Tournament at Palmer Field. Heading into the contest, Coach Fraser wanted to make sure that the bright lights didn’t get to the Rams as they competed on the big stage. Fraser wanted his players to remember the journey and focus on winning every play in every inning.
“Going into the Shoreline finals, I wanted to think small. I wanted kids to understand that they would be nervous, coaches would be nervous, fans would be nervous, and that’s okay. Accept our nerves and use it to fuel us,” Coach Fraser said. “We had to think about winning each inning, rather than winning the entire game. As the game went on, we started to follow that philosophy.”
Valley got out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the Shoreline title bout. In the top of the third, senior Noah Grace hit a 2-run single with 2 outs that tied up the game. Then in the top of the fifth, sophomore Connor Lane laced a double that scored senior captain Noah Hester to give Old Saybrook a 3-2 advantage. Lane later came across to score on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
Lane earned the win by pitching the final 3.1 innings of the game. Lane allowed just 2 hits and no runs to go with 3 strikeouts to solidify the Shoreline Conference title.
“We started off slow in the finals. Nerves were definitely shown by everyone in our dugout. We just needed to take a deep breath, and that’s what we did in our huddle after the first inning,” said Fraser. “What got us confidence was Noah Grace’s 2-out RBI single in the third. That put the belief in our dugout that we could do it. Connor came up in a big spot in the game and seized the moment.”
Senior captain Jake Butler threw the first 3.2 innings for Old Saybrook, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits and striking out 6. At the plate, Lane finished the game with 2 hits, while Grace had 2 RBI.
As the Rams made their run through the Shoreline tourney, Coach Fraser was pleased to see them receive so much support from everyone in the Old Saybrook community. Fraser feels that his team’s victory over Valley gave the program some well-deserved attention in town. However, as big of a win as it was, Fraser doesn’t want the Rams to rest on their laurels going forward.
“The win certainly means a lot for Old Saybrook, because we accomplished something unique. It brought some deserved attention around baseball and these players in the community,” Fraser said. “As I told everyone in the program, it’s not time to become complacent. This needs to be the start around building baseball in Old Saybrook from Little League to high school.”
Coach Fraser credited Old Saybrook’s seniors for displaying excellent leadership throughout the season. The Rams’ captains are Hester, Butler, and Carson Brown, and the other seniors on the team are Grace, Nick Scalzo, and Nick Rothman. Fraser said the members of Old Saybrook’s senior class proved pivotal in the team’s success and demonstrated that they will be strong leaders long after their days of playing baseball.
“The seniors and their leadership meant more than I can explain in the success of our team. From the minute I took over, these guys supported everything that I preached with an open mind,” said Fraser. “I will remember these seniors for a long time, because they were an ego-less bunch of kids that love the game of baseball and being around each other. I am thrilled to look back and see the impact they had on baseball in Old Saybrook by hanging a conference championship banner.”
Following Shorelines, Old Saybrook entered the Class S State Tournament as the No. 4 seed and hosted No. 29 seed Windsor Locks for a first-round game on May 31. The Rams got on the board first, but Windsor Locks scored 3 runs in the fifth inning and then added 2 more runs in the sixth to come away with the 5-2 victory.
Butler and Hester both had a hit with an RBI, while Lane hit a triple and scored a run for Old Saybrook. Grace pitched the first 5.2 innings, allowing 2 earned runs and recording 8 strikeouts. Butler threw the last 1.1 innings, fanning all 4 batters that he faced.
Year one in the Fraser era ended with the Old Saybrook baseball team capturing its first Shoreline Conference crown in several decades. As the Rams move forward, Fraser wants everyone in the program to continue building the culture of baseball in the town of Old Saybrook. Coach Fraser feels confident that the returning players learned a lot from the departing seniors and will use their playoff experience to guide the Rams to new heights next season.
“I want the players to continue the culture and bond that we created in this program in large part due to this group of seniors. I want the players to know that they need to compete and work outside of the season to get better,” Fraser said. “I want the younger players to look forward to playing for this program. The returning players are aware of the task at hand and that we need to continue this momentum for years to come.”
The Old Saybrook baseball team’s roster features senior captains Jake Butler, Carson Brown, and Noah Hester; seniors Nick Scalzo, Nick Rothman, and Noah Grace; juniors Marlin Stavola and John Witczak; sophomores Nicholas Denovellis, Ryan Lombardi, Edward Devaney, Connor Lane, and William Albert; and freshmen Connor Barry, Noah Hubbard, Griffin Velardi, Charlie Carmichael, and Andrew Moshier.