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The John Winthrop Middle School baseball team put together an undefeated season by going 13-0 this spring. Pictured are (front) Riley Young, Patrick O’Rourke, Ben Marchese, Jack Finnegan, Braeden Sparaco, Lucas Rogers, and Aaron Sicignano; (back) Henry Breckenfeld, Aiden Babek, Reed Beighau, Mason Erwin, Sam Hutchinson, Luke Buccaro, Brayden Shea, and Colin Carver. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Hyde )
The Chargers celebrate after posting an 8-3 versus North Branford that completed their perfect 2019 season. (Photo courtesy of Lorraine Shea )
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The John Winthrop Middle School baseball team accomplished a rare feat this year and completed and undefeated season. The Chargers earned victories in all 13 games it played this season behind the stellar play of some talented athletes. Head Coach Jason Foor saw his squad go perfect in his first year at the helm at Winthrop after serving as an assistant coach in 2018. Last year the Chargers took only one loss, so this season marks a run of 22-1 in two campaigns.
Coach Foor is still adjusting to the fact that his team pulled off the flawless run this year. Foor thought the year went by in a blur until the pressure mounted toward the season’s end.
“It almost seems a bit surreal. It felt like the season was very short, except for our last games, which seemed to last a lifetime,” said Foor. “I’m excited for the boys in general. They worked hard and deserved it.”
Even though the final score of their games may not indicate it, the Chargers had some close calls this year. One in particular came in Winthrop’s second game against Westbrook. The Chargers ultimately triumphed 18-8, but that was because the offense erupted in the late innings.
“At Westbrook, that was a tough game for us and that was our only loss last year. We knew going to their field that it was going to be a tough game. We were up 5-4 through five innings,” said Foor. “We had to will our way through the game. It had that same feeling as last year where they snuck one out, but then in the sixth inning we scored seven runs, and six more in the seventh. That’s when the boys really woke up and I saw that they had the will to get to the undefeated season.”
Another close call came against Hale-Ray late in the year when the Chargers claimed a 10-7 win. It was another case of late-inning heroics, but combined with some solid relief pitching that helped Winthrop triumph.
“At Hale-Ray, we won a game at their field 10-7. We were tied at 7-7 after five innings of play,” said Foor. “You never know. Sometimes the bats don’t wake up, but we scored two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to get the win. Colin Carver was the winning pitcher that game. He came in to throw five scoreless innings for us.”
Carver was one of the staff aces for the Chargers. The righty tallied six wins to lead the team, and those wins came with a 1.23 ERA and 57 strikeouts. At the plate, Carver hit .526 with 17 runs and 11 RBI. Winthrop’s other staff ace was Sam Hutchinson, who proved to be a tough lefty to face for the opposition. He supplied four wins with a 1.15 ERA and 32 Ks. Hutchinson was also an accomplished hitter for the Chargers with a .725 batting average, 20 RBI, 23 runs, and 32 stolen bases.
“They were our two No. 1 pitchers. With Colin, he’s very controlled. He can hit his spots. He has three pitches. Fastball change and curve. He overpowered a lot of the teams he faced with the fastball,” said Foor. “Sam throws just as as hard, as a lefty, he throws a two-seamer, and the ball moves so much, the hitters are just missing.”
As a whole, Coach Foor was able to move his athletes around the diamond and maximize their talents. Several players contributed including Henry Breckenfeld (.583, 12 RBI), Ben Marchese (.600, 13 runs), Braeden Shea (.462, 18 RBI, 19 runs), and Mason Erwin (.368, 12 RBI).
“Henry Breckenfeld had the most two-out RBI on the season with six. That was huge. Braeden Shea and Mason Erwin also really came through,” said Foor. “Mason was the starting catcher the whole year basically, and Braeden played right field for us mostly, and whenever Sam was pitching he would play center. Sam was in center if he wasn’t pitching or at first base, and Colin played third if he wasn’t pitching. I had a lot of versatile kids on the team.”
Leading the team on the field and in the dug out were team captains Hutchinson, Lucas Rogers, and Braeden Sparaco. Foor believes that they made his job as head coach a lot easier with their leadership.
“The captains really stepped into them well. Leading the team during warm-ups and practices. Through the tough games, they stepped up and got the team motivated,” Foor said. “They were supportive all year long and they really took charge.”
With many of his athletes moving onto play at Valley Regional next year, Coach Foor knows that these Chargers were a special group that won’t soon be replaced. Foor also believes that’s a big boon for Warriors’ baseball come next season
“They made coaching really fun and really easy. It’s a great group of kids. For those 8th graders that are going to high school. They were 22 -1 combined the last two years,” said Foor. “I know they’re excited about playing up there. That’s something to be said about this group moving up to Valley, that’s a real bright future for that team now.”
However looking back on their last game of the season, Coach Foor will always have the memory of the last out and the ensuing celebration as his athletes continue to improve at the next level.
“That final game was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fan support there; students and parents alike. We had five runs in the first inning and then three in the third. We were up 8-0 early, and we took the game 8-3,” said Foor. “Colin started the game and got the win. Sam Hutchinson and Reed Bijou threw the water bucket on me. It was a real emotional game. After the last out with the ball to center field, everyone threw their hats in the air. It was something to be seen.”
From the Sidelines
The John Winthrop boys’ baseball team roster included Aiden Babek, Reed Beighau, Henry Breckenfield, Luke Buccaro, Colin Carver, Mason Erwin, Jack Finnegan, Sam Hutchinson, Ben Marchese, Patrick O’Rourke, Lucas Rogers, Brayden Shea, Aaron Sicignano, Braeden Sparaco, and Riley Young.
This marked Head Coach Jason Foor’s first year at the helm of the Chargers. His coaching staff included assistant coach Brandan Calamaro.
The Chargers’ wins this season came against, Westbrook (13-1 and 18-8), Eliot (7-0 and 9-1), Old Saybrook (15-2 and 10-1), Portland (17-3, and 7-0), North Branford (8-1 and 8-3), Hale-Ray (10-7), Haddam-Killingworth (5-0), and Lyme-Old Lyme (13-3).
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