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John Crisci was an ace in the hole for the East Haven Junior Legion baseball squad during the 2018 season. (Photo courtesy of John Crisci )
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John Crisci turned in a great campaign on the mound and proved the ace pitcher for the East Haven Junior American Legion baseball team this summer. The 89ers won nearly every game that John started on their way to earning 16 victories and qualifying for the State Tournament.
John, who is entering his senior year at Notre Dame-West Haven, says that he enjoyed competing for the 89ers, because he’s been playing baseball with this group of athletes throughout his life.
“I knew pretty much every kid on the team. I’ve played with them for years,” says John. “It was definitely a big comfort thing. Joining a team with a bunch of guys you’re not familiar with takes some time to get used to. You have to jell with the guys on the team. But when you join a team with guys you’ve been playing with for years, you just connect.”
East Haven Head Coach Anthony Maggiore describes John’s performance during the recent season as “impeccable.” Maggiore trusted John to turn in a quality start each time his ace toed the rubber.
“John was an ace pitcher who had an unbelievable pitching record,” Maggiore says. “He was a key to our success. He’s an extremely skilled and smart pitcher.”
John’s repertoire features three pitches, including an unusual one that he rarely throws. John primarily throws a four-seam fastball, will mix in a curveball, and, on occasion, throws a knuckleball.
“My whole pitching career, I’ve thrown a fastball and I knew where it was going. I’ve always messed around with [the knuckleball], because of the randomness of the pitch,” John says. “When throwing a knuckleball, it can go anywhere. That’s why it caught my attention.”
John’s go-to pitch is his fastball, although he doesn’t look to simply fire it past opposing batters. John’s goal is to locate his fastball low in the strike zone.
“I just challenge guys with my fastball and see if they can hit it. I just try to locate it, because I don’t throw the hardest. If I just hit the corner and keep it low, they can’t really do anything with it,” he says. “The biggest part of my game is being able to locate the fastball. I just throw it and try to hit spots and perfect it.”
John doesn’t strike out a ton of hitters, and so he trusts the guys behind him to make the plays in the field. Fortunately, East Haven featured a solid defense that helped John work his way out of innings this year.
“It’s not all me. They made the plays. I think the main thing being a pitcher is that you have to trust your defense,” says John. “Another big thing is the catcher, Mike Streeto. When he’s behind the plate, I feel the most confident, because he’s awesome. He blocks every ball and throws people out. It’s a good thing to know when I’m on the mound, everyone is like, ‘We got this.’”
While John also pitches at Notre Dame, he took the recent season as an opportunity to return to the field as a middle infielder with the 89ers.
“I love pitching and it’s my favorite, but when I went to Legion and they asked what position I play, I said I’ve played middle infield...because I kind of missed playing in the field,” says John. “It all comes back to me being out there and I had a lot of fun.”
As John enters his senior year at Notre Dame, he’s aiming to continue getting better on the mound. Next summer, John plans on taking the hill as a member of the East Haven Senior Legion team.
“I just think confidence is a big thing, so I want to get a lot of wins,” John says. “I’ve talked with a few kids on the team, and we’re looking forward to playing U-19’s.”
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