Greenwich senior Cannons looks solid at midway point of legion season

Greenwich senior legion's Zack Monick darts towards first base during Saturday's game against Fairfield. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich senior legion’s Zack Monick darts towards first base during Saturday’s game against Fairfield. — John Ferris Robben photo

Heading into the midway point of the season, head coach Mike Abate and the Greenwich American Legion senior Cannons have to feel good about where they are.

On Saturday, Post 29 battled Fairfield and dominated play, winning the first game 18-4 and 4-1 in the second game of the doubleheader.

“We are starting to click on all cylinders,” Abate said. “We always pride ourselves on pitching and defense, and this weekend we came out and hit the ball really well. We capitalized on a bunch of their errors and got a lot of nice hits.”

So far it’s hard to dispute the success Abate and the Cannons have had. At the midway point of the season, Greenwich sits atop Zone IV at press time with a 12-2 overall record.

“It’s nice to be on top of the zone, but what I’m thrilled about is that the team wants to get better every day by doing the little things and making adjustments, whether it’s cutting down on the strikeouts offensively or moving the runners over. Each kid is understanding the game a little more. Those games when you get to the playoffs, every little out matters.”

One of the reasons for Greenwich’s stay at the top of Zone IV has been its ability to improve after every practice and every game.

“We are starting to click and we are getting better every time out,” Abate said. “That’s our goal. We want to be better after our last game. No matter who we are playing, we are trying to play our game and the kids are starting to understand what is asked of them and we are getting the feel for each other. We are making adjustments and hopefully we can keep this going on.”

Newcomer to the team Nick Kono has been lights out for Greenwich and Abate said that Kono’s been one of the team’s hottest hitters.

“He’s really swinging the bat well,” Abate said. “He’s in the four-hole right now protecting Taylor Olmstead, who really doesn’t get a lot of pitches to hit because he’s probably one of our best hitters. If they pitch around Taylor, Nick has answered the call.”

When it comes to an all-around game, no one has been better than leadoff hitter Dylan Callahan.

“He’s been amazing for us,” Abate said. “He’s taken on that leadership role and it’s nice to see him grow so much from last year. He’s always played as a leader, but this time he’s more vocal and demanding what we need from the younger players and those players look up to him. He’s hitting the ball well, he’s fielding the ball well and he’s pitching light’s out right now.”

In addition to Callahan on the mound, Bradley Wilpon has been highly productive and Ryan Marks has made a solid return to the program after taking last year off.

“They are both off to a great starts,” Abate said. “When Ryan gets into his groove, he’s throwing his fastball for strikes, he’s throwing his curveball low in the zone and fooling hitters. He’s keeping hitters off-balance and it’s great to have him here. Bradley has thrown really well and already has three wins for us already. He’s really stepping up and has been keeping batters guessing.”

Not only has Post 29 taken a two-game lead in the Zone IV, but they’ve done it in convincing fashion. They’ve beaten Wilton 11-1, Fairfield 18-4, Darien/New Canaan 16-3, Norwalk 4-0 and Bridgeport by a combined 22-0 in two games. In fact, Greenwich has only given up 31 runs this season while scoring 111, almost 30 runs more than Stamford, who has the second best offense in the league as of press time.

“The pitchers have really taken control of a lot of the game and our defense has been solid,” Abate said. “In the two games we lost, I think it was more of us giving the game away rather than being beaten. People now know what they have to do and are getting their work in and we are working hard when we are not playing. We are starting to gel. We are sitting on top of the zone and I still don’t think we’ve played our best baseball. That’s a great problem to have.”

Greenwich’s two defeats came to Trumbull and Stamford and were both by the score of 5-4. The Stamford game was tough because the Cannons held a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.

“Any time you lose, you try and take something away from it,” Abate said. “Those two games were frustrating for us and our kids understand that we gave them those victories. Nine out of 10 times we don’t beat ourselves. But we understand where we want to be at the end of the season and we don’t let those games get us down. We just get back to work and try to improve after every game.”

And the season doesn’t get that much easier for the senior Cannons. Yesterday Greenwich traveled to Malmquist Field for a game against Norwalk. Today it’s another road game, as Greenwich battles the Darien/New Canaan combined team at Darien High School at 5:45 p.m.

After enjoying some picnics and fireworks on the Fourth of July, it’s back to work for Greenwich, as they host Westport at Havermeyer Field at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, Post 29 has two games against the best in Zone IV. Saturday morning, Greenwich will host Stamford at 9 a.m. at Havermeyer Field. Sunday’s game against Trumbull will be played at 10 a.m. at Julian Curtiss.

“It’s a big week for us,” Abate said. “Hopefully we can get through it and keep it going. I think we need to keep playing and keep making adjustments. Every game hands us a different situation, whether it’s getting the bunt down or hitting that sac fly. We need to go out there and achieve what we set out to do.”

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