Portland’s senior first baseman Ethan Krasniewski and East Hampton senior shortstop Gavin Santillo during the Bellringers 9-2 win on April 20.
Portland High School’s baseball team has dropped nine of their first ten games this spring.
But if last season is any indication, there is reason for optimism
One of the latest losses was a 9-2 defeat to the Bellringers in East Hampton on April 20, marking the team’s sixth straight loss.
The Shoreline Conference (SLC) rivals battled to a draw through the first three innings before the Bellringers pulled away with a five-run fifth inning.
“East Hampton got some big hits and we didn’t,” Portland head coach Rick Borg said following the seven-run defeat.
Returning all-conference senior Harrison Collins scored both of Portland’s runs in the loss, scoring once in the first and again in the third inning following a sacrifice fly from Allen Cohen to tie the score at 2-2.
Collins is captaining the team with Spencer Rosado and Austin Vess. The captains are three of the team’s five seniors that are helping Borg navigate the rocky start.
Borg said his field generals bring a lot of experience and are setting a standard for a lineup featuring several young players.
“We have needed them; they lead by example,” added Borg. “We’ll keep plugging away and see what happens.”
Borg and his boys only have to look back to last spring to find a silver lining.
A year ago, the Highlanders lost nine straight games to start the season before rebounding to win three games down the stretch.
The highlight of last season was a 2-0 upset victory over a tourney-bound East Hampton team at Dunkin’ Donuts Park late in the regular season. In the team’s earlier meeting last spring, the Bellringers won by 14 runs.
This year’s Highlanders are hoping for a similar turnaround and have also shown promise at times on the diamond, evidenced by an 8-4 win over Old Saybrook in the second game of the season.
In the home-opening win over the Rams of Old Saybrook, Collins and Ryan LaPila each had multiple hits and scored two runs apiece. Rosado, the team’s ace, earned the win on the mound, striking out six in five innings of work and also scored twice from the plate.
Freshman Aaron Ciarleglio also scored his first two high school runs in the early-season win.
Ciarleglio and fellow freshman Ethan Wells are two first-year players that are filling important roles for the Highlanders this spring.
Borg said his freshmen have played well under the circumstances, adding, “We’ve had some freshmen growing pains, but they will benefit from those growing pains down the road.”
Borg added that the team has the “ability to win more games” down the stretch and is hoping that April’s losses bring May victories.
“Our bats have been good, better than I expected,” Borg said of the team’s performance through the first 10 games. “We’re struggling defensively and we’re without pitching depth, but we’re getting a little better each day.”
Next is a home date with Cromwell this Fri., April 28 at Portland High School. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
They will host the Bellringers later in the season, aiming for a similar result to last year, on Wed., May 17 at 4 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin