2016 GHS graduate Ryan Bagdasarian, pictured with his parents Bonnie and Dean Bagdasarian, after Eastern Connecticut State University won the Division III baseball national championship on June 7.
Ryan Bagdasarian is leaving college on the ultimate high note.
Bagdasarian, a 2016 Glastonbury High School graduate, was the starting center fielder for Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) baseball team that won the 2022 NCAA Division III national championship on June 7.
The national title ended a remarkable year for the Warriors of Willimantic, who won 49 of 52 games.
For Bagdasarian, who had previous collegiate stops with the University of Connecticut-Avery Point and a brief stint at UConn’s Storrs campus, the championship was a Hollywood-style sendoff.
“It’s the most perfect way to end it,” said Bagdasarian. “I was thinking about trying to play somewhere again next year if we didn’t get it done this year, but I threw that out the window after the final out.”
Bagdasarian transferred to Eastern in the heart of the Covid-pandemic during the spring of 2020 and began to make an impact on the fields once competition resumed in the spring 2021, starting 34 of 35 games and earning All-Little East Conference (LEC) and was an ECSU Outstanding Scholar-Athletic award winner.
After playing with the New Britain Bees last summer, Bagdasarian returned for his final season at Eastern with a group of like-minded seniors eager to shake off disappointing exits during both the conference and regional tournaments the previous spring.
Eight of the nine Warriors who started this season were either seniors or had graduated from college earlier this year. The experience paid dividends as the team won 23 consecutive games to close out the season.
“There was a lot of leadership. We are a pretty old class and we’ve played with each other for the last two and a half years,” stated Bagdasarian, who said the sting of close losses in the conference and regional tournament a season ago were still fresh in the player’s minds.
Bagdasarian said the turning point this spring was following a loss to Rhode Island College on April 23. The defeat was the first game of a double-header against the Anchormen of Rhode Island and the Warriors would get immediate revenge with a resounding 15-3 win in the nightcap.
From that point on the belief built and the wins piled up—and never stopped.
“We had great practices and worked really hard on some small things. Our offense and our pitching staff just picked it up and it was kind of like we were untouchable,” recalled Bagdasarian.
The Warriors won the final nine games of the regular season before breezing through the LEC tourney—sweeping four opponents by a combined score of 35-8—to capture their first conference title since 2016.
After defeating Swarthmore College and Middlebury College in the regionals and Rowan University in the super regionals, Eastern qualified for the national tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Once in The Hawkeye State, they would eliminate Baldwin Wallace University and LaGrange College in the first two rounds of the national stage, setting up a best-of-three series with the reigning champions from Salisbury University in the title tilt.
The defending champs from Maryland would prove to be no match for ECSU, who swept the first two games.
In the championship clincher, Bagdasarian’s single in the third drove in two runs, which proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win, fittingly at Perfect Game Field.
During the 23 games winning streak, Bagdasarian and the team began to get superstitious and refused to break routine.
Some players would listen to the same music prior to games or had the same pre-game rituals, while others refused to change their socks.
For Bagdasarian, he refused to cut his hair and felt the need to play Wordle every day during the 45-day winning streak.
“I thought that was one of the keys and now I can stop playing [Wordle],” joked Bagdasarian, who added his hair has never been this long. “It’s so cool to have those kinds of superstition and the only reason they are ending is because you’re going out on a high note.”
The superstitions may have stopped but the legacy of the team will live on. The 23 straight wins tied the program record for most consecutive victories and the national title was only the fifth in the history of the program, the first since 2002.
Bagdasarian led the team in hits (73), scoring 56 runs and driving in 51 more. He played in 51 of 52 games despite battling Anterior Crucial Ligament (ACL), shin, calf, and quad issues this spring.
“We had a ton of guys battle through a ton of injuries and we were all just there to pick each other up,” recalled the 24-year-old.
For Bagdasarian, the team was a family in more ways than one. His cousin Mark Bagdasarian, a Wethersfield High School graduate, was a freshman on the team this spring.
“I have kind of taken on the big brother role,” said Bagdasarian. “He’s just a great guy to be around. He’s always in high spirits.”
Bagdasarian leaves ECSU with a degree in Business Administration and his long term goal is to be project manager or own his own construction company.
For now he is letting his body rest, plans to get his hair trimmed, and is still relishing what happened during an unforgettable spring.
“It kind of happened so fast. Five month worth of baseball and it goes by like it’s a week,” said Bagdasarian, who added that he’ll never forget the little things, like the long bus rides with his teammates. “You really just have to appreciate those moments. We had a great season, and won a ton of games, and I met some of my best friends and played for a great coaching staff.”
He has considered playing Twilight League Baseball at some point this summer, but Bagdasarian said it will be hard to have a better baseball exit, adding, “You leave going as far as you can with one of the most dominant teams in Division III baseball history. It’s pretty cool.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin