Tri-State League begins play today
Thursday, May 20, 2004
© 2004 Republican-American
Change is afoot in the Tri-State Baseball League. When the 2004 season begins today, there will be two new teams, as well as a host of familiar faces in new places.
The Tribury Titans and the Waterbury Wolves will be playing their first seasons in the seven-team league. Former Pomperaug High standout Mike Henriques will coach the Titans, and the Wolves will be coached by Dom Flammia, and assistanted by Pete Lawlor and Michael Mannetti.
Ed Gadomski, chairman of the league’s new board of directors, welcomes the new teams into the league.
“We’re excited about two brand new rosters, and bringing a bunch of younger players is a big-time plus,” Gadomski said.
Two long-time teams, Winsted and Terryville, will not be competing this season. That could prove to be a boom to other teams in the league. Former Terryville standout Gary Swierczynski will join the defending champion Thomaston Spoilers, and Winsted stalwarts Donny Crossman and Brian Stumpf will play for Litchfield. Gadomski said Winsted is hoping to field a team again next year.
With all of the moving and shaking throughout the league, veteran Thomaston coach Dave Post knows repeating as league champs will not be an easy task. Post, now in his 20th season, believes the league is wide open.
The Spoilers return all but two players from last year’s championship team, including the reigning league MVP in Gadomski. That is just one reason Thomaston has to be looked at as one of the favorites to win the league again this year.
“Bringing in Gary (Swierczynski) really is big for us,” Gadomski said. “It puts another left-handed bat into our lineup.”
Bethlehem, last year’s runner-up, has added talented right-hander C.J. Giampaolo to its rotation and is returning all nine starters from last season. Bethlehem has won four of the last six league titles (’98, ’99, ’01, ’02).
The Plowboys have dedicated this season to teammate and friend Marc Damelio, the league’s 2002 MVP, who passed away last year on Christmas Eve.
Along with the additions of Crossman and Stumpf, Litchfield brings back last year’s Pitcher of the Year, Carl Rivers, to anchor its starting rotation. Chris Beach (.389 average) returns as a potent force in the Cowboys’ lineup, which also features the likes of Justin McCulloch (3B) and Josh Coleman (OF).
Gadomski said he considers Bethlehem and Litchfield the teams to beat this year.
“Both teams have a solid 1-2 punch with their pitching. They have to be considered the teams to beat,” said Gadomski.
Player/coach Chris Clark returns to manage the Torrington Rebels, who also bring back last season’s best hitter award winner, Jeremy Pesce (.425, 10 HR). Veteran left-hander Scott Arigoni and Dan Livingston are expected to be the Rebels’ top two starting pitchers.
The Brass City Brew, now in their third season, also bring back a host of players, including Dave Vadnais, Brian Stasaitis and Neal Jansen, along with newcomers Matt McCormick, Jeff Fonti, Keith Jansen and Joe and Rick Miller. The team’s co-managers are M.J. DeFazio and Sam Sirica.
The 18-game regular season schedule concludes on Aug. 5, followed by a round-robin style double-elimination playoff to determine the league champion.