BASEBALL Powerful start for Cadets
TRUMBULL — Opening day presents the first competitive opportunity for assessment, and what strengths a particular squad may have, expected or not.
Turns out St. Joseph’s experienced offense is as potent as voters believed.
Charlie Pagliarini belted a pair of home runs — including the tie-breaking smash in the bottom of the sixth, and the Cadets opened 2019 with a 6-4 win over defending SWC champion Bethel Saturday afternoon. St. Joseph began the season ranked No. 4 in the opening GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll with high expectations thanks to a bevy of talented seniors.
“For being the first game I thought we were solid offensively,” said St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves. “We just told the kids to go up there and look to swing early in the count at fastballs; a couple guys got some good pitches to hit and did damage with it.”
St. Joesph — which started 9-0 last year before reaching the Class M semis — also got two hits from Stephen Paolini. The Cadets jumped out to a 3-0 lead that was eventually wiped away before Pagliarini stepped up to the platein the sixth. He hit a homer over the right field fence to lead off the inning.
“I wanted to pick up our teammates and give our team a little more energy,” Pagliarini said. “I found a good pitch to hit and I hit it.”
Al Paolozzi and Jimmy Evans combined on the win for St. Joseph. Paolizzi didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and Evans retired two straight batters to end the game with the tying runner at the plate.
“He did a great job coming in relief and holding them down,” said Chaves of Evans. “He throws a lot of strikes and has a good change up. He’s great in pressure situations with guys on base; he bears down when he needs to.”
Bethel graduated eight players from last season’s 16-8 squad and many new players saw their first real game experience Saturday. The Wildcats battled back, though, and tied the game at 4-4 on an infield error with two outs in the sixth.
“We had an opportunity, which is good,” said Bethel coach Ray Turek. “We always say you can always make up a big deficit as long as you keep chipping away. We responded and held it there for a while.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Charlie Pagliarini, St. Joseph: His first homer was a two-run shot that staked the Cadets to a 3-0 lead after an inning.
“We competed against a good team and we knew they were a good team,” Turek said. “They have two leftys who are fantastic, and they threw a lot of strikes and kept us off balance. We’re optimistic; obviously disappointed with the loss but optimistic how we played.”
“We have a lot of senior experience,” Pagliarini said. “We’re just excited to go out and see what we can do.”
ST. JOSEPH 6, BETHEL 4
BETHEL020 101 0 — 4 6 0
ST. JOSEPH301 002 x — 6 8 1
Records: Bethel 0-1, St. Joseph 1-0. Batteries: B—Jack Carraturo (L), Nick Vieira, George Viebrock and Pete Baia; SJ—Al Paolozzi, Jimmy Evans (W) and Aaron Kirby; Highlights: SJ—Charlie Pagliarini hit two home runs. Stephen Paolini went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.