Greenwich Cannons Capture Sharkey Laureno Tourney
Using commanding pitching and timely hitting, the Greenwich American Legion Prep Division Baseball team was able to leave Stamford with the gold.
Under the lights at Cubeta Stadium, Greenwich scored three times in the sixth inning and twice more in the seventh to beat Norwalk in the 29th Annual John “Sharkey” Laureno Memorial Tournament title game 6-1.
“This is great,” said second baseman Charlie Zeeve, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “It’s such a nice venue and it’s great to come out here and get the championship. I think the pitching was most important. Danny came out and threw a great game. We made a lot of nice plays in the field, but when we needed to get our hits, we did towards the end of the game.”
The Cannons finished the tournament going 3-1 overall to end the summer season on a high note.
“It was very special,” Greenwich head coach Tommy Povinelli said. “A lot of the American Legion coaches weren’t available, so to have this whole thing happen, they asked me to coach. I have coached for years in baseball in Greenwich, but this was my first time coaching in a few years. It was fun. These kids came together with great cohesiveness. They played hard, backed plays up and every kid contributed in some way, which is very special.”
On the mound, Greenwich’s Danny Hupal was lights out throughout all six innings he pitched. After a first inning run scored from Norwalk, Hupal shut down his opposition in grand fashion and finished the day giving up four hits and one walk while striking out three batters.
“I felt great,” Hupal said. “I think the biggest thing was definitely our defense. They were huge today. That helps a lot when you’re pitching. I threw one change-up and everything else was fastballs. The fastballs were working, four seam, two seam. Just locating it was huge.”
In the second inning, Hupal got Norwalk out in order on three lazy fly balls and an inning later Norwalk wasn’t able to get the ball out of the infield while going down in order.
“He was really on his game today, so I knew we would get a chance to break through,” Povinelli said. “I don’t think Norwalk had a chance to hit the ball. Danny was just lights out. A few times they did hit the ball we made the plays in the field. It was a lot of basic, softly hit balls.”
Offensively Greenwich ended the game strong. With the score knotted at 1-1 going into the sixth inning, the Cannons exploded for three runs in the sixth inning.
Leadoff hitter Brandon Chow started the inning with a single to left and Charlie Zeeve kept the good times going with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line.
“I don’t know if I deserve it,” said Zeeve, talking about his MVP honor. “But I’ll take it. It will definitely be in my room and it feels great to be an MVP.”
Up next came Jake Beinstein. During his at bat, Greenwich successfully pulled off the double steal to advance both runners into scoring position. A single to center by Beinstein plated Chow and gave Greenwich the 2-1 lead.
Charlie Povinelli stepped up next and hit a slow roller to second that easily drove home Zeeve from third to extend the lead to 3-1.
“They had a nice little lefty on the mound and we thought we might have a little trouble with him because he had a nice breaking ball, but it’s always nice to get some hits,” Zeeve said.
Matt Circelli moved Beinstein to third on a sacrifice roller to the pitcher. It turned out that Circelli’s sacrifice made a difference, as the Norwalk pitcher uncorked a wild pitch during Jimmy Doucette’s at bat that scored Circelli and gave the Cannons a 4-1 advantage.
“I knew we were going to hit that guy because he wasn’t throwing super hard,” Tommy Povinelli said. “He was throwing a lot of junk early and then eventually got to him. We got some key hits and timely hitting.”
In the seventh, Greenwich kept the bats hot and scored two more insurance runs. The trio of Hupal, Aaron Schur and Stephen Bennett led off the seventh with consecutive hits to the outfield.
With one out and the bases still loaded, Chow connected on the roller to short that scored Hupal. After a walk by Zeeve, a passed ball during Beinstein’s at bat scored Schur for the sixth and final run of the game.
“This feels great,” Hupal said. “I’ve never won it. I’ve been in it for two years and both times we were 0-3 and 1-3. This time we were 3-1 and to win it was exciting. I think the hitting was a lot of confident, defense and pitching. It was everything.”
Trailing 1-0 heading into the third inning, the Cannons were able to tie the game. After Hupal led things off with a single to left, he was forced out at second during Schur’s at bat. With two outs, a walk to Connor Bylciw advanced Schur to second.
Up next was Chow, who unloaded a shot to left field and when the Norwalk left fielder had issues scooping up the ball, Schur was able to round third and score on the error.
For Povinelli, it was obvious that it was thrill for him to once again coach a team, and lead them to a championship.
“It’s fun to coach, but I think I’m going to go back into retirement for a little bit,” Povinelli said.