Branford Senior Legion Battled to the Last Out This Summer
With his team featuring a young roster, Head Coach Kyle Heins knew that the Branford Senior American Legion 19-U baseball squad would have to grind it out until the end of the 2022 season. However, no matter how challenging that grind became, Heins said that this year’s team never gave up, and he was pleased to see Branford play some of its best baseball of the summer when the team capped off its campaign by competing in the State Tournament.
Coach Heins and his players knew how quickly the American Legion season goes by. The team had to be ready to play on consecutive days. Post 83, which features athletes from Branford and North Branford, only had a couple of weeks to prepare, but fortunately for this year’s team, several of its athletes already had experience playing baseball together.
“Fielding a team in the summer is hard. We had a couple practices, and the season starts right away. The season started June 16 and had to be over by July 30,” Coach Heins said. “They’ve played with each other for a while. They’re all good kids. They came together. I had no complaints about the team chemistry.”
Branford competed in Zone 2 and finished its regular season with a record of 5-13. Post 83 had to face teams that had much more experience as it navigated its Zone 2 schedule. However, no matter how stiff the competition was, Coach Heins said that Branford’s ballplayers were always ready to compete when they stepped on the diamond.
“The kids gave 100 percent all of the time,” said Heins. “We played some good teams. We were on the younger side. They’re all good kids, and I had a blast coaching them.”
Following the regular season, Branford participated in the Senior Legion State Tournament. Post 83 took a 7-4 defeat against Trumbull in its first game on July 16 and then battled to a 2-1 loss to Moosup on July 17. Coach Heins was impressed with his team’s performance versus Trumbull. Heins also felt pleased to see how Branford grinded it out until the final out on its way to making states this year.
“We played really well in the first round of the State Tournament,” Heins said. “It was a quick season, 30 days or so. It’s not easy. It was a grind.”
Coach Heins said that Branford played its best when the team was aggressive in the field and with the bat. Post 83 did a good job of charging ground balls and attacking any pitch that was left over the plate. That type of play showed Heins the potential that Branford’s athletes have going forward.
“They were aggressive. They weren’t intimidated,” said Heins. “Defensively, we attacked everything. Offensively, we jumped on pitchers. That’s something I’m proud of them for. They’re all good athletes, and I think they’re going to have a great spring season.”
Caleb Allen served as the ace of Branford’s pitching staff this year. Coach Heins said that Allen was Post 83’s go-to pitcher and turned in a solid performance every time he took the mound. Ryan Nuzzo was another key member of Post 83’s pitching corps and proved a huge help with his ability to throw well in relief.
In terms of offense, Nuzzo, an infielder, was one of Branford’s top performers at the plate this season. Post 83’s offense was additionally bolstered by Adam Chasse, a catcher/first baseman/outfielder; along with infielder/outfielder Nico Falcioni, catcher/outfielder TJ Shields, and center fielder Zach Turbert. Coach Heins said that all of these players provided Branford with crucial contributions in the batter’s box throughout the season.
Turbert has been a member of Branford’s Legion program for the past five years. As he competed this season, Turbert, a rising senior at Branford High School, felt proud to play alongside his Post 83 teammates while representing his hometown on the ballfield.
“To me, playing for Branford Senior Legion means getting to represent the town,” Turbert said. “I had the opportunity to have fun and compete during the summer.”
Coach Heins knew that Branford would be facing plenty of formidable opponents as Post 83 competed in Zone 2 this summer. However, Heins said that his players never made excuses and worked their hardest in an effort to find success.
“They showed up every day and they tried hard. They always tried their hardest,” said Heins. “They went up against pitchers and players that were more experienced. We grinded every day. We never had a problem. What really makes them special in their character.”
The Branford Senior Legion baseball team’s roster for the 2022 season featured Caleb Allen, David Carroll, Adam Chasse, Austin Collins, Jason Cosgrove, Nico Falcioni, Anthony Fusco, Cameron Garrett, Max Liebel, David Loomis, Ryan Nuzzo, Jason O’Connor, Timothy Rice, Andrew Rodigan, TJ Shields, and Zach Turbert.