The 2021 season was indeed, one to remember for Greenwich High School’s baseball team, which came oh so close, to winning the FCIAC and CIAC Class LL tournament titles.
Greenwich registered an impressive record of 19-5, made it to the championship game of the FCIAC Tournament, then advanced all the way to the Class LL Tournament semifinals, the furthest it had traveled in the state tourney in quite some time.
The Cardinals’ successful 2021 season resume included earning the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC Tournament by winning the conference’s regular season title. So, Greenwich finished last season with a lot to be proud of and despite graduating 14 seniors, all of whom made a significant mark on the program, the team is looking forward to creating a lot of memorable moments this spring.
“Our season goals are high here,” Greenwich third-year coach Adrian Arango said. “We expect to compete every year for an FCIAC title and state title. There’s no reason this group of guys can’t do that.”
Last season saw Greenwich start the season quickly, winning seven of its first eight games, on its way to producing a standout season, but to further its success this year, the team knows it has to play at an even higher level considering the strength of the FCIAC.
“We keep saying this is the best FCIAC ever,” Arango said. “It’s unbelievable, the talent is through the roof. But we have talent here and we keep saying that we have a little unfinished business. It’s going to be more difficult this year to get back to where we want to, but I think the boys are hungry, particularly the seniors.”
Each team in the FCIAC seems to be loaded with talent, featuring several college-bound players, or athletes considering to play at the collegiate level.
“If you don’t show up one day you can get run ruled off the field,” Arango noted. “Top to bottom this is not only the best league the FCIAC has ever had, it’s probably the best league in the state and that’s saying something, because you have the SCC and so many great conferences.”
Leading the Cardinals on and off the field are senior captains Tyler Cusimano, Tommy Healey, Ryan Perez and Justin Zych. Cusimano mostly played center field in 2021 and emerged as the team’s leadoff hitter.
This year, Cusimano should play several positions, including first base, shortstop, the outfield and will see some action as a pitcher.
“It will keep me on my toes,” Cusimano said of have the versatility to play different positions. “It was a lot of fun, especially for me, because I was a junior and it was all new to me. This year the goal is to go further than that and win it all.”
Cusimano, who was also one of the leaders of Greenwich’s football team, knows the squad has plenty of potential.
“Like every other year, our goals are to win it all, both states and FCIACs,” he said. “We’re confident, we’re always confident, they (other teams) have a lot of good guys, but so do we. Just come game day, we have to be focused and ready to go.”
Healey, a hard-throwing right-hander, will be one of the Cardinals’ top two pitchers. He rose to the occasion each time he took the mound in 2021, especially in the high-pressured postseason games.
An outfielder, Perez is expected to help power the team’s lineup.
“I think we’re strong in the outfield, strong in the infield and a strong team overall,” Perez said. “We look really strong in the preseason and we’re really confident going up against these good teams in the FCIAC and state. I think that’s what makes us a good team. We had a lot of guys last year who are now seniors and that will help us throughout the season.”
Zych is a slick fielding third baseman with a strong arm who should also spark the squad’s lineup.
“Definitely our depth is one of our strengths,” Zych said. “We have two guys at every position that are very capable, so when someone goes in to pitch, we know we can have a backup that can go in and get the job done. We lost a lot of starters from last season, but 1-9 everyone can be counted on to get a hit in a big moment.”
Said Arango: “Our four captains are four guys who have been through it all and they have been tremendous. They have the boys in a mindset of what it’s going to take to win at this level and the state.”
Cusimano will see some time at first base, along with sophomore John McHugh. Junior Nathan Jones, one of the Cards’ best pitchers, will play second base, as will senior Robert Rota. Cusimano and Healey will split time at shortstop, Zych will anchor the third base position and junior Wyatt Gibson is a third baseman. Sophomores Troy Goodman and Tommy Passamano are also infielders.
Among some of the Cards’ outfielders are senior Marc Thiebeault, senior James Babb, senior Javier Serra, Perez and Aidan Rosario (senior).
“Our outfield is as good as any outfield in the state,” Arango said. “I’m confident in the guys we put out there.”
On the mound, Healey and Jones gives the Cardinals a pair of aces they can rely on. The duo were key in helping propel the team deep into the postseason in 2021.
Seniors Jake Prieto and Sean Costello are left-handers that will provide significant depth to the starting pitching rotation. Cusimano, Zych, Perez and senior Vin Pavonetti are expected to give the team innings from the mound, as is Gibson.
“We have a core of young guys and we are senior heavy again,” Arango said. “I think 1-19 everyone is going to contribute on the roster and we are going to need it the way the league is.”
Greenwich lost to Fairfield Warde in the championship game of the FCIAC Tournament in 2021, then posted victories against Newtown, Cheshire and Warde to advance to the semifinals of the Class LL Tournament, where it was defeated by eventual state champion Norwalk, 7-5.
Fourteen players graduated from last season’s successful squad, five of whom were captains Miles Langhorne, Carson Bylciw, Felipe Echeto, Cage Lasley and Jack Zola. Langhorne, Greenwich’s pitching ace last year, is continuing his baseball career at Vanderbilt.
“All 14 of those seniors last year contributed,” Arango said. “Even though we lost 14 seniors, we have a strong foundation here, where we have guys coming up who are going to be able to step up and do a good job.”
Greenwich opens its 2022 campaign today with a game against Newtown at Julian Curtiss School in Greenwich.
“We have a lot of depth behind Nathan and Tommy, so I’m excited about our pitching,” Zych said. “Our outfield is very similar to last year. We want to get back to Cubeta Stadium this year in front of all the fans.”