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08/22/2022 12:26 PM

Clinton Huskies’ 19-U Club Finishes Summer with a Memorable Run

Team Wins Two Games in the Playoffs to Make the Final
The Clinton Huskies’ 19-U AAU baseball squad notched two victories in the East Shore Travel League Playoffs to reach the championship game, where the team took a 4-3 loss to the Bluefish in an exciting contest. Photo courtesy of Willie Fritz

On the heels of an up-and-down regular season, the Clinton Huskies’ 19-U AAU baseball squad gave all of its effort toward putting in a better showing when the team competed in the postseason this summer. The Huskies’ determination to succeed led the club on a memorable run that saw them advance to the championship game of the East Shore Travel League Playoffs.

Clinton’s 19-U team claimed a 2-1 win versus CT Hank’s Yanks in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs before earning a 5-4 victory over the Southington Black Knights in the semifinals. The Huskies went on to face the Bluefish in the title game and took a 4-3 defeat to finish their year with an overall record of 11-8-1.

In a back-and-forth matchup, the Huskies came up just shy of taking the East Shore Travel League title by losing a 4-3 contest to the Bluefish in the championship game at Seaside Park in Bridgeport on Aug. 11. Garret Garbinski got the start on the mound and struck out 8 batters over 5 innings for Clinton. Bryan Higgins then pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

At the plate, Garbinski had a single with a stolen base, while Brady Fritz had a pair of singles to go with an RBI for the Huskies. Ryan Hromadka and Mike Zingarella each contributed an RBI single. In the end, the Bluefish scored a run in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference in the outcome.

Head Coach Willie Fritz said that his ballclub showed a tremendous amount of courage throughout the East Shore Travel League Playoffs. Although the Huskies trailed in a couple of games, they displayed their tenacity by fighting back in some competitive contests. Clinton’s persistence was evident when Coach Fritz’s squad faced the Bluefish in the final.

“It’s a real good team. We played them earlier in the season and got banged up by it. They’re stacked,” Fritz said. “The kid that pitched against us came over afterwards and said, ‘You guys are good. You guys are tough.’ It was good to hear.”

The Huskies had advanced to the title bout by pulling off a big-time comeback against the Southington Black Knights in the semifinals on Aug. 10. Trailing 4-0 in the third inning, Clinton rallied for 5 unanswered runs between the fourth and fifth innings to win the contest by a 5-4 score.

Lucas Kamoen pitched the first 4 innings for the Huskies, after which Higgins tossed 3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen. Clinton plated 4 runs in the fourth inning to tie the game, getting a single from Alex Sheehan that started the rally, followed by key walks from Ethan Reemsnyder, Dom Carpenter, Zingarella, and Declan Christopher.

Sheehan got aboard again in the fifth inning and then stole second base. Garbinski followed with an RBI single that brought home Sheehan with the go-ahead run, and the Huskies ultimately secured the 5-4 victory that sent the team to the final.

“They kept coming back, which I love. That’s the key,” said Coach Fritz. “We went down 4-0 against a real good team in the semifinals, and there’s no giving up. We came back, and that happened [in the final], too.”

Prior to the semifinals, the Huskies notched a 2-1 win over CT Hank’s Yanks in a quarterfinal contest on Aug. 9, avenging a regular-season loss to that same team just two days earlier. Sheehan put forth a dominant performance on the mound by pitching a complete-game 2-hitter in which he struck out 14 batters for the Huskies. Cadon Civiello drew a walk and scored the game’s first run in the third inning. Then in fifth inning, Clinton went up 2-0 when Christopher singled and later scored a run on a hard ground ball by Brady Fritz. Hank’s Yanks scored their lone run of the game in the seventh inning, but Sheehan worked his way out of trouble to solidify the win for the Huskies.

Coach Fritz believes that his team benefited from playing some talented clubs at a tournament in Delaware a few weeks before the playoffs. Fritz said that experience gave the Huskies confidence that they could do some damage in the postseason.

“Obviously, you want to win, but we got on a great roll. I think Delaware really helped us, playing against really good competition,” Fritz said. “When we came back, we were on point.”

Coach Fritz was pleased with the way that his athletes handled the challenges of this season. Fritz knows that it’s difficult to commit to playing so many games over the summer months, but he appreciates the effort that his players gave and felt thrilled to see them show up ready to compete in the playoffs.

“We didn’t stop playing and didn’t give up. When we got down in games, especially later in the season, we didn’t put our head between our legs,” said Fritz. “We competed. We showed a lot of character, and that’s the type of guys these kids are.”

Brady Fritz, Garbinski, and Reemsnyder led the charge for the Huskies’ offense throughout the season and made an impact at the plate in nearly every game. Garbinski, Kamoen, Sheehan, and Higgins were reliable forces on the mound for Clinton. Coach Fritz said that the performance of the Huskies’ pitchers proved the most consistent aspect of the team this year.

Coach Fritz also applauded the performance of outfielder Tyler Greenhouse, who made the transition from playing golf at Morgan during the high school spring season to playing baseball in the summer. Greenhouse impressed Fritz with his clutch hits at the dish and reliability in the outfield. Fritz also admired the grit shown by Hromadka behind the plate while playing through the summer heat.

Coach Fritz relied on Carpenter and Zingarella to set the tone for every game. Fritz feels that their leadership played a huge role in how the Huskies’ season ultimately played out. Clinton needed exemplary leadership in order to navigate its way through this season. Many of the team’s early games got canceled early, leaving the Huskies with limited playing time and fewer chances to improve.

“We got good pitching. Our defense actually got so much better the last few weeks, and a lot of it was because we were playing more. When you don’t play, it’s hard,” Fritz said. “It’s a great bunch of guys. They really get together, bond, and pick each other up. We were in just about every game.”

Coach Fritz is excited about the future of the program after the Huskies capped off this year on a high note. While the summer of 2023 is still many months way, Fritz is looking forward to seeing who returns for another run toward championship glory.

“If the guys want to play, I’m excited. It’s a long way away. Who knows what’s going to happen?” said Fritz. “I hope they want to play, because I love it. I think it’d be great to get them back together and bring a few of these other guys up from the younger team. It’d be a lot of fun.”

In the waning weeks of summer, the Clinton Huskies’ 19-U team turned the tide and put together an exciting finish to its 2022 season. Coach Fritz appreciates the efforts of everyone who supported the team, including his wife Sondra and Assistant Coach Pete Christopher. As much as anything, Fritz feels proud of his players for stating their case in the playoffs and taking their campaign all the way to the championship game.

“I’m proud of the guys. That’s what we play for,” Fritz said. “You want to win the league, and we were a hit away from winning it.”

The Clinton Huskies 19-U AAU baseball team’s roster for the 2022 season featured Dom Carpenter, Declan Christopher, Caden Civiello, Ben DeCrosta, Brady Fritz, Tyler Greenhouse, Bryan Higgins, Ryan Hromadka, Ryan Inglis, Lucas Kamoen, Jake Nelson, Ethan Ranaudo, Ethan Reesmynder, Alex Sheehan, and Mike Zingarella.