Madison Legion Gives Coach Buck a Fond Farewell
Jeff Pinover and the Madison Senior Legion baseball team put together an excellent year in Jeff Buck’s final season as the program’s head coach. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
Jared Kuryan helped the Post 79 Seniors claim the Zone 2 title and advance the state semifinals during the 2021 summer campaign. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
Ken Nuzzi and the Madison Senior Legion baseball squad finished with an overall record of 18-6 this season. (File photo by Susan Lambert/The Source)
Jeff Buck has coached the Madison Senior American Legion 19-U baseball team for the past seven years and finished his career with the program by watching the squad put together an exceptional season in 2021.
Madison notched an overall record of 18-6 on its way to winning the Zone 2 title and then advancing to the semifinals of the State Tournament this summer. When the season was completed, Buck announced that he was stepping down as Post 79’s head coach.
“Sadly, this summer season was my last season as the head coach for Madison Senior Legion. It has been a privilege to be able to come back to my hometown to coach Senior Legion and be a part of Madison Travel Baseball for the last seven years,” Buck said. “I made sure to come back this past season to coach this group of players one last time before they graduated from high school or aged out of Legion baseball. This 2021 Senior Legion team will always be a special group of young men and my favorite team to coach.”
Madison played great baseball from start to finish this year. During the regular season, Post 79 earned a record of 16-3 to finish atop the Zone 2 standings. Madison then lost its two games in the Northeast Regional Qualifying Tournament, but came back to get two victories in the State Tournament and advance to the semifinals, where the team was eliminated with a loss against Wallingford.
While he was hoping that Madison could go all the way in states, Coach Buck felt proud of his players for shining brightly on the diamond throughout the campaign.
“At the beginning of the season, we had high hopes and expectations for the summer season. We had a few bumps in the road during the season, but overall, the team met the expectations that all the players had and the coaches did,” Buck said. “It was a great season and one to remember. Each player on the roster knew what was at stake for how special this season could be. I am very proud of how this team played the entire season and, most importantly, how they carried themselves as Madison Legion players.”
Madison’s roster for the 2021 season featured Will Bazenas, David Antonetti, Matt Carone, Eli Davies, John deChabert, Andrew Earl, Chris Engelhart, Jack Kayal, Ryan Knight, Will Kranzler, Jared Kuryan, Ken Nuzzi, Jeff Pinover, Jack Pireaux, Chris Wanat, and Danny Weinstein.
Coach Buck described this year’s team was one of the most motivated groups that he’s ever coached. Buck said that every player had a desire to improve and put in 100-percent effort at both practices and games.
“The biggest improvement I saw in the team throughout the summer was the drive from each player to be special and a good player day in and day out,” said Buck. “Each player understood that just because they performed well the day, game, or season before didn’t mean it was just going to roll over to the next game. They all had a common goal in mind, and each player put their best effort forward to succeed and perform for their teammate next to them.”
Coach Buck felt that Madison was in prime position to win the Zone 2 title after it defeated eventual runner-up Wallingford two of three times during the regular season. Post 79 solidified the division crown when the team beat Branford in its regular-season finale.
“I knew that the team had a chance to win the Zone 2 championship when we won two games out of the three-game regular-season series versus Wallingford Legion,” Buck said. “Wallingford is a great team and program in Zone 2. They have talented players and a great coaching staff. When we won the regular season series against them, I had a great feeling that we would run the table and win the Zone 2 championship.”
Claiming the Zone 2 title was one of Buck’s primary objectives for Post 79 this year. While he’s proud of his players for realizing that goal, Buck wishes that he took a few moments to soak in what Madison was achieving amidst all the hustle and bustle of season.
“I knew this team was going to be special and talented because of all their success in previous seasons and coaching them when they were younger. My main goal for the season was to keep them motivated to play first pitch to last pitch and play fearless,” said Buck. “One thing I would change would be taking a step back and embracing what was unfolding as a season in front of us. We all got caught up in accomplishing our season goal to where sometimes we lost sight on how well we actually were playing.”
While he won’t be returning to the dugout next season, Buck believes that Madison will have an excellent chance to replicate its success from this year in the 2022 campaign.
“If players and parents decide to stay in town and not leave to go to the vast number of AAU teams, the team has a high potential of being successful again,” Buck said. “There are a lot of talented baseball players in this town. It would be another great season if they all stayed in the town of Madison to play Legion and for the Madison Travel Baseball program.”