Adrian Arango is officially beginning his second season as Greenwich’s baseball coach, yet this is the first spring that he’s spending on the diamond with his team. Like all first-year coaches last spring, Arango’s communication with his squad was limited to Zoom meetings and emails, since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2020 season.
Looking at Greenwich’s roster, the juniors on last year’s team, many of whom would have been in their first varsity season, never got to play one game, so when the squad opens its 2021 campaign against Fairfield Ludlowe on April 10, a lot of the seniors will make their varsity debut.
“Last year was tough, but now that we’re having a season, the kids are super excited,” said Arango, who was hired as the Cardinals’ coach, after Mike Mora stepped down from the helm following the 2019 season.
Arango noted the team will take the field with the squad’s 2020 seniors in mind.
“As tough as it was for me and the coaches, I still think about my seniors from last year,” said Arango, who previously was on New Canaan High School’s varsity baseball and basketball coaching staffs. “That was a great group. We never got out here last year and I told the kids here, that we’re playing for those guys too. We want to make a statement this year.”
The Cardinals’ roster includes 20 players, 13 of whom are seniors. In that group of 13 players, only several have played in a varsity game, since the 2020 season was cancelled. Therefore, the leadership the Cardinals are receiving from their five senior captains is especially significant.
Miles Langhorne, Carson Bylciw, Felipe Echeto, Cage Lasley and Jack Zola are Greenwich’s senior captains.
“They’ve been tremendous,” Arango said of his captains. “They all bring a little something different to the table. They are all great leaders and have done a great job of showing the other guys what we need to do on a day-to-day basis.”
Langhorne, a right-hander pitcher, will be relied upon to be the Cardinals’ ace this season. He will join Vanderbilt University’s pitching staff next season.
“We are exceptionally talented from top to bottom, I am just excited to get out there,” the hard-throwing Langhorne said. “The FCIAC is always a solid conference and I’m confident we can be at the top of it.”
A left-hander, Bylciw is also expected to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Cardinals.
“I feel great about our team,” Bylciw said. “We’ve been able to look at other teams and I think we have a good chance to do something special this year. I like the way we look during practice and how we looked during tryouts. We’re really itching to get back out there. We all lost a season last year, but we’re all really excited just to get back and play baseball.”
Led by Langhorne and Bylciw, the Cardinals’ roster features a number of players capable of taking the mound.
“The pitching staff looks great this year, I’m super excited to get on the mound for us,” Langhorne said. “We have a lot of depth on the mound this year from top to bottom and we have good guys out of the bullpen. In a seven-inning game, if you get five innings out of a starter, that puts teams in a real good position to win a baseball game.”
Added Bylciw: “I feel like we are going to able to compete and give our team a chance to win every ballgame. As long as we pitch solid, play fundamental defense and try to limit our mistakes, we should be good this season.”
Langhorne, Bylciw, sophomore Nathan Jones, junior Tommy Healey, senior John McGrath, senior Michael Rose, senior Matthew Chioditti and Lasley are among some of the Cards’ pitchers.
“We are going to need a lot of guys on board,” Arango said of his pitching staff. “I am confident in everyone we have and I’m excited about what we are going to bring to the mound this year. Miles will dictate a lot of what we do.”
In the infield, Lasley plays first base, senior George Bancroft is a second baseman, as is Healy. Senior A.J. Barber, who will play football at Princeton University, is a middle infielder and senior Christian Mingione should fill the shortstop role. Junior Justin Zych should also solidify the infield.
“Definitely throwing strikes and having a sound defense are going to be the keys having a successful season,” Lasley said. “As long as we throw strikes and minimize our errors we will be able to compete with any team in the FCIAC.”
Lasley believes the Cardinals also have a lot of potential offensively.
“Pitchers are going to have a tough day going through our order 1-9,” Lasley said. “We can all hit well and do our job of getting runners over and playing fundamental baseball – small ball.”
Echeto and Zola are the squad’s catchers and Jones could see some time behind the plate as well.
“Our infield looks great, we have two or three guys at each position and all the guys can definitely do the job,” Echeto said. “Everyone is working hard, they all know the responsibility they have when wearing the Greenwich uniform.”
Zola, junior Tyler Cusimano, James Babb (junior), Ryan Perez (junior), Matias Fernandez (senior), Jaden Lombardi (senior) and Aidan Rosario (junior) will patrol the outfield for the Cardinals. Lombardi is also a catcher.
“Our outfield is looking really deep, we’ve got multiple players at each position,” Zola said. They are all looking really good and we are going to be playing fundamental baseball.”
Greenwich’s captains have focused on keeping the team unified through communication on and off the field.
“With COVID cancelling year, we are just trying to build a sense of teamwork and brotherhood, because last year we didn’t get to have a season and we have to make up for all that lost time,” Zola said.
Added Echeto: “Communication is really important. The captains, the coaches, the players have the mindset that we want to get to a state championship. Last year, our captains did a great job of talking to us all the time. I felt so sorry for them, but they prepared us for this season.”
Greenwich graduated a strong group of players from its 2020 squad in Christopher Genaro, Jacob Mondschein, Hunter Gruenstrass, Owen Bass, Daniel Perez, Nick Alonzi, Daniel Lustosa, Ben Nash and Matt Jester. Genaro is playing baseball at Fordham University and started his first game recently. Nash is on the team at Kenyon College and Lustosa is competing at Manhattanville College.
A sixth-grade teacher at Schofield Middle School in Stamford, Arango’s Cardinals’ coaching staff includes Pat Murphy, Sean Mayo and Joe Urbano.
“I know I have big shoes to fill coming off two really good coaches,” said Arango, who played baseball at Stamford High School. “Mike Mora had legendary years here, they went undefeated one season, and he’s won Coach of the Year three times and Phil Tarantino was a tremendous coach. If you go back before that, Angelo Bruno was a legendary coach here. So, Greenwich has great, deep, rich traditions and I hope to continue that in my stint here.”
Arango knows his squad must be display consistency each game to make its mark in the traditionally competitive FCIAC.
“Staples and Darien have been the cream of the crop the last five years, maybe even longer,” Arango said “St. Joes is always in the mix and Fairfield Ludlowe is strong. It’s such a good league, every game in the FCIAC is a tough game. Westhill, they’re a sleeper team, New Canaan has a really good team. Two years ago, we had a bunch of kids drafted from the league, there were scouts it seemed at every game. The FCIAC is better than ever.”
Like his fellow captains, Langhorne is embracing his leadership role.
“It’s a huge honor to be a captain,” Langhorne said. “You always want to lead a team and show the younger guys how we do it as upperclassmen. We hope to lead this team to a state title.”