Greenwich Cannons Firing on All Cylinders This Summer

The Greenwich American Legion Senior Cannons baseball team has its usual high expectations heading into this summer season. With a solid offense, stellar defense and stingy pitching, the sky's the limit for Greenwich. (John Ferris Robben photo)

The Greenwich American Legion Senior Cannons baseball team has its usual high expectations heading into this summer season. With a solid offense, stellar defense and stingy pitching, the sky’s the limit for Greenwich. (John Ferris Robben photo)

Another season, another set of high expectations for this year’s Greenwich American Legion Senior Cannon’s team. Once again, head coach Mike Abate believes this year’s team will compete for the Zone IV title and advance far in the state tourney.

“It’s a different year and we are sorting out a lot of pieces,” Abate said. “Offensively we are going to put up some numbers, defensively I think we are going to pick up the ball and we have some strong pitching. I really like the way our defense plays. The outfield looks great, the infield looks great and we are going to have some good pitching. There’s definitely going to be some high expectations this year. I would love to win the Zone and go deep in the postseason like we did last year.”

But to be honest, basically every year during Abate’s tenure with the Cannons has had lofty goals…and most have been achieved.

“It shows how far the program has come over the past seven, eight years,” Abate said. “There’s a lot of talent in Greenwich, the kids put baseball first in the summer time and the kids want to get better. The coaching and talent we’ve had in Greenwich recently has gone a long way to the success of the program.”

The infield will be a key strength for Greenwich this year and again it will be duo of GHS senior Colin Kelly at shortstop and Alex Loparco at second base. Kelly had a standout season for the Cardinals this year and was a key to the team’s high FCIAC seeding. Loparco came off a stellar freshman season at Western New England University, where he batted .310, had 44 hits, nine doubles, one homer, 20 runs batted in and 13 walks.

“Those two kids are very good, not only offensively, but defensively as well,” Abate said. “They solidify the core of the defense.”

In addition to the dynamic duo at second and short, Aaron Schur will be at the hot corner for Greenwich and Abate said that he’s been lights out at the position. Joining King at third will be GHS junior Connor Langan. At first base will be former Cardinal captain Kevin Woodring, a senior, and Mike Genaro.

At catcher, the Cannon’s arms will throw to former Brunswick standout and incoming Georgetown freshman Will Solomon. In addition, former GHS senior captain Marco Pastore will see key minutes behind the plate.

“The kids can pick it, that’s for sure,” Abate said. “We are really fundamentally sound in the infield. In our first five games, our fielding percentage was 1.000%. They are all doing an amazing job for us and stuff like this will keep us in a lot of games.”

Patrolling the outfield will be Ryan King in center field and Abate loves the way King covers so much ground out there. Play left will be Mark Sunoo, who will be looked at for big things offensively and defensively. At right will be Erik Mini. While talented in the field, Mini’s ability to swing the bat will be key to the team’s success.

Greenwich Cannon's Alex Loparco looks to make the tag at second base during a game last week. (John Ferris Robben photo)

Greenwich Cannon’s Alex Loparco looks to make the tag at second base during a game last week. (John Ferris Robben photo)

“They need to do the little things,” Abate said. “We have to do a better job at bunt defenses and first to third. You don’t get a lot of practice time in games if it’s close and I think we need to do a better job at being aware of the situations, being able to field bunts and knowing where everybody needs to be.”

Greenwich legion will be once again stacked when it comes to its pitchers and returning for another season will be Michael Genaro. Last year Genaro started the season 9-0 and his only loss was in the thrilling state tournament game to end the season.

This spring, Genaro threw for Babson College and the freshman didn’t disappoint. In eight appearances, Genaro went 3-2. In 39.1 innings of work, Genaro struck out 23 batters, only gave up two walks and had a 2.97 ERA.

“He’s our main guy on the mound,” Abate said. “He’s extremely smart and knows how to pitch. We’ve had a lot of big pitchers come through Greenwich in the past couple of years and a couple of been drafted. I would put Michael up there with all the great pitchers that we have had. He’s very talented. He can throw three pitches at any time for strikes, no matter what the count is. His fastball, curveball and changeup are great. He has confidence in his pitching and knows how to hit his spots. He upsets the hitter’s timing and attacks the strike zone. We are going to rely on him down the stretch if we are going to make a playoff run.”

In addition to Genaro, Langan, who saw key innings for Greenwich High this past spring, will help the Cannons this summer. John Adimiari threw a no-hitter for Greenwich against Wilton Saturday. Andrew Desino, Henry Quinlan and Brett Collins will also get some quality time on the mound this season.

“We are deep and a lot of kids can throw strikes,” Abate said.  “This team will only go as far as the youngers pitchers bring us. If we can be consistent throwing strikes and pitching to contact, we will be successful. We don’t have a lot of power arms and won’t blow fastball by, but we will hit our spots and hopefully with our defense, we can make the plays.”

Offensively the Senior Cannons will have a little bit of everything. Between some powerful bats, timely hitters and speedy baserunners, Greenwich will be looking to tally a plethora of points this season.

“We have a lot of contact guys, we have speed and have some pop in the middle of the lineup,” Abate said. “Basically our two through six hitters, when everybody is there, has the ability to drive it deep in the gap.

When comes to driving the ball deep, Mini, Kelly, Solomon and Woodring will key the team. However, Abate will be relying on the entire roster to come up clutch when needed, whether it’s the long ball or slapping a ball to get on base.

“Everybody is going to have to come up big in certain situations of the game,” Abate said. “I like our chances with anybody up there. It’s about who’s turn it is up there.”

Leading off will be Loparco, who did an outstanding job getting on base last year as a leadoff hitter and swiping some bases along the way.

“Alex had a phenomenal college season and solidifies the top of our lineup,” Abate said. “As he goes, we go. He gets on base, has speed and he’s a pest for opposing pitchers, as they worry about him and forget about the hitters. When he gets on base, I really like our chances for scoring.”

And Greenwich legion will need everything firing on all cylinders, as once again Zone IV is going to be tough. Between Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Trumbull and Fairfield, just to name a few, Zone IV will once again house top competition.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Abate said. “I told the kids that it doesn’t matter if we are playing a powerhouse or a weaker team in the zone, we have to come out ready to play every single game. We are definitely going to see a lot of good arms and we look forward to the challenge.”

About Author: Paul Silverfarb

Paul Silverfarb, has been editing and reporting on events throughout Connecticut for over a decade. Mr. Silverfarb is quite familiar with Fairfield County, as he grew up in Trumbull, currently resides in Fairfield. Throughout over two decades, he has worked as the editor-in-chief at the Sentinel, as well as sports editor of the Sentinel, Greenwich Post and Norwalk Citizen~News. He graduated from Keene State College in New Hampshire.

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