Summer Sports

Greenwich Cannons’ season ends with a loss to Fairfield on final day of Senior Legion Regional Qualifying Tournament

Photo by David Fierro: The Greenwich Senior American Legion Cannons gathered one last time after they played against Fairfield on Saturday, July 31, 2021, in the Regional Qualifying Tournament at Muzzy Field in Bristol. Fairfield won, 4-2.

From winning the Zone 4 Western Division with a record of 18-7, to advancing to the final day of the American Legion 19-Under Regional Qualifying Tournament, the Greenwich Cannons experienced another summer to remember.

Though the Cannons’ season came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Fairfield in the Regional Qualifying Tournament today, the team left Muzzy Field in Bristol knowing they accomplished plenty this summer and exited the complex with fond memories of their 2021 season.

“I had a great experience with the Cannons,” said Greenwich right fielder Ben Nash, a 2020 Greenwich High School graduate, who was one of several athletes on the team making his last appearance with the team on Saturday. “This was my third summer playing with Mike (manager Mike Abate) and these guys. It’s great to get all my high school teammates together during the summer and play for the town. It’s a great experience traveling around Connecticut and playing in some of the nicest parks the state has to offer.”

The winner of the Greenwich-Fairfield game, played NCL Legion for the right to represent the Connecticut American Legion at the Northeast Regional Tournament in Worcester, Massachusetts. After defeating Greenwich, Fairfield lost to NCL later this afternoon, 3-0. NCL begins competition in the Northeast Regional Tournament on Wednesday. Greenwich, which posted a 5-1 victory over NCL last night at Muzzy Field, finished 4-2 in the Regional Qualifying Tournament, including their play-in triumph. The lone loss for NCL in the tournament came against Greenwich.

“We were traveling up north every single day, including the play-in, so to get to the last day – I give them a lot of credit,” said Abate, who managed the Cannons to an overall record of 22-9 this summer. “I’m happy with the way they played. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. I give my boys credit.”

Abate said the team has opted to not compete in the Connecticut 19-U American Legion State Tournament, so today marked their last game of the summer.

Photo by David Fierro: Auggie Bancroft connects with the ball during Greenwich’s game vs. Fairfield.

Greenwich briefly held a 1-0 lead on Fairfield in today’s matchup at Muzzy Field, but Fairfield scored three runs in the second inning and one run in the third inning. Right-hander Joseph Sangiuolo pitched a complete game for Fairfield, yielding two runs on just three hits, while posting five strikeouts.

Pitching side-armed, Sangiuolo displayed an impressive curve ball and off-speed pitch throughout.

“He was dropping down, he was showing different angles and he was keeping our kids off balance – he did a nice job,” Abate said of Sangiuolo.

Greenwich loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning, but Sangiuolo allowed just one run.

“There were a couple of innings where if we got one hit we were going to get to him, but he did a fabulous job,” said Abate, whose squad was on the road throughout the tournament.

The Cannons took a 1-0 first-inning lead. Leadoff hitter/outfielder Tyler Cusimano, who went 2 for 4, began the inning with a single and shortstop Riley Redahan followed by reaching first base on an infield error. Cusimano scored from third later in the inning, on a well-executed double-steal, with Redhan stealing second, making it 1-0.

Hunter Gruenstrass of the Greenwich Cannons takes a swing at a pitch from Fairfield hurler Joseph Sangiuolo.

Fairfield responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Jack Corcoran, Sam Swanson and Nick Hios each drew walks from Greenwich left-handed starter Jake Mondschein and Liam Grady delivered a run-scoring single. Matthew Sawyer reached on an infield error in the inning for Fairfield, which saw Corcoran, Swanson and Hios each score a run.

In the fourth inning, Fairfield widened its lead to 4-1 when Joseph D’Elia doubled and scored on a Swanson single. Greenwich third baseman Justin Zych prevented Fairfield from scoring more runs in the inning, as he made a nifty catch on a pop-up in foul territory. He made the catch while banging into the fence, then threw to second base to double-up the base runner for a double play. The Cannons staged a threat in the fifth inning, as outfielder Jack Zola singled, first baseman Cage Lasley was hit by a pitch and second baseman Auggie Bancroft walked with no one out. Greenwich managed to score only one run, however. Shortstop Riley Redahan drove in Lasley with a fielder’s choice ground ball, but Fairfield’s ace pitcher limited the damage.

For the game, Greenwich had three hits, while Fairfield posted four. Mondschein, a 2020 Greenwich graduate, pitched five innings in his final start for the Cannons.

“I can’t begin to explain how good this experience was for all these years,” said Mondschein, a 2020 Greenwich graduate. “Growing up with these kids and playing high school, then it was really cool to come back as a college freshman and be welcomed by the high schoolers. It was really cool they welcomed us to the team. In this tournament, we were short in arms, we had guys coming off short rest. I can’t say enough about this team – all week we were battling.”

Catcher Hunter Gruenstrass, who like Nash and Mondschein is a college student, also concluded his Cannons career.

“It’s been a great ride,” Gruenstrass said. “I can’t thank coach Abate enough or this coaching staff enough. It’s been an amazing four years. He’s done a lot for me and he has done a lot for Greenwich and the Cannons program. This year, we really came together as a group and formed a very good season.”

Categories: Summer Sports

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