CT Warriors Finish Regular Season Strong
The CT Warriors baseball squad notched a two wins and a tie during the final week of its regular season to bring some momentum into the East Shore Travel League Playoffs. (Photo courtesy of Jim Petonito)
The CT Warriors 19-U AAU baseball team is peaking at the perfect time this summer. After losing three of its first four games of the year, the Warriors responded by playing some great baseball to their finish their regular season with a record of 8-7-1.
The Warriors, who feature athletes from Guilford, claimed a 6-5 win versus the CT Rage and then played a doubleheader against City Angels Baseball Academy last week, earning a 4-3 victory and a 4-4 tie. Head Coach Jim Petonito feels pleased with the way his team has been performing and is eager to see how the Warriors will fare in the East Shore Travel League Playoffs.
“We should be mid-pack in the seeding. So, I’m very confident in our first one or two rounds based on our pitching capabilities,” said Petonito. “The bats are really starting to come around, as well.”
On Aug. 4, the Warriors hosted the CT Rage and came away with a 6-5 victory at Guilford High School. Kevin Ciardiello got the start for the Warriors and gave up five runs in the first inning, but settled down after making an adjustment, and didn’t allow anything for the next four innings.
Ciardiello also delivered at the plate by lacing a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning that tied the game at 5. The Warriors scored the game-winning run when Cam Sullivan singled home Sal D’Anna.
“The Rage is a very, very good program. It is a tournament team that travels and plays in most of the major tournaments on the East Coast,” Coach Petonito said. “That was our grittiest performance, going into the latter half of the game down five runs. We really dug down deep and showed tremendous resiliency and character after being dominated the whole game.”
Then on Aug. 8, the CT Warriors faced City Angels Baseball Academy for a doubleheader at Guilford High School. The Warriors won the first game by a 4-3 score and then played the City Angels to a 4-4 tie in the nightcap.
John Petonito drew a bases-loaded walk to score D’Anna and give the Warriors a walk-off victory in the first game of the set. Petonito also had a triple and scored two runs on the day.
In the second game, Jake Ciocca led off the contest with a walk, stole a base, and then scored on a single by Ciardiello. Petonito hit another triple in the game for the Warriors, who settled for the tie after it was called due to rain.
The CT Warriors’ roster for the 2021 summer season includes Jake Ciocca, John Petonito, Tyler Considine, Sam Huffman, Sal D’Anna, Cam Sullivan, Joe Palmer, Kevin Ciardiello, Mike Torre, Sam Ametrano, and Aiden McBrierty. Petonito led the Warriors with a .345 batting average and a .745 on-base percentage during the regular season. Considine posted a .348 batting average, while Ciocca hit at a .333 clip for Coach Petonito’s club.
“We’ve had different players get hot at different points in the season,” said Petonito. “In the beginning of the season, we saw a lot of hits from John Petonito and Jake Ciocca. Tyler Considine was steady all season and, the end of the season, we saw hits from players like Michael Torre, Kevin Ciardiello, and Sam Huffman.”
With its regular season complete, Guilford got ready to compete in its single-elimination East Shore Travel League Playoff Tournament that began on Aug. 11 (after press time) and culminates with the final at the Connecticut Sportsplex in North Branford on Friday, Aug. 13. While the campaign has featured some ups and downs, Coach Petonito feels confident that his squad will compete to the best of its ability in the postseason.
No matter how everything plays out, Coach Petonito has enjoyed working the Warriors’ ballplayers this summer. Petonito is happy to see such a positive atmosphere among everyone who is affiliated with the program.
“The most important thing I’ve learned about the team is that there are a lot of good people out there,” Petonito said. “All these young men have fantastic families supporting them. Family is the most important thing, and I hope they realize how fortunate they are.”