'Battle-tested' East Catholic baseball team makes it to tournament

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., May. 30, 2013
Senior Tyler Apnea is the team's senior pitcher and top hitter, with a batting average of .417. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Senior Tyler Apnea is the team's senior pitcher and top hitter, with a batting average of .417. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

East Catholic's varsity baseball team has had an interesting season. "It's the youngest team East Catholic has ever seen," said head coach Martin Fiore. The team has only four seniors and one junior. Joining them are two sophomores and five freshmen, which Fiore said is "remarkable for any varsity team." After a highly competitive season facing teams from LL and L schools, East Catholic qualified for the state tournament, competitng in the M class.

The team concluded its regular season Wednesday, May 22, against South Windsor, beating them in a tight game, 1-0. East Catholic finished the season with a healthy 12-8.

"Our goal was to qualify for the state tournament," said Fiore. "When you beat your eight games [to qualify] and make it to the tournament, you should be battle-tested."

While Fiore commends all his players, he points out senior pitcher Tyler Aprea. He is the team's best hitter, averaging .417. Aprea is heading to UConn and has been invited to play baseball in the fall.

Aprea is one of three players on the team who have made All-Conference. With him is Tyler Gammie, of Wethersfield, a freshmen who plays first base, third base and catcher. His batting average is around .360. The third player is Andrew Stutts, of Manchester, a sophomore. Stutts is the closing pitcher for the team, who is 4-0 on the mound. A transfer student, this is Stutts's first year playing on the team.

Fiore also highlights Josh Zbierski, of Stafford, a sophomore catcher who hits around .300. "He's a really good, solid guy," said Fiore. Also strong players are Clay Felice of West Hartford, a sophomore who plays third base and is the team's third top hitter, hovering around .300, and Logan Greene, of Coventry, the first-baseman. There are two stand-out freshmen, short stop Jimmy Titus, of Stafford, and second-baseman Omar Montalvo, of Wast Hartford. "Defensively, I think they're the best middle infield in the conference, and they're freshmen," said Fiore.

"They're a great bunch of kids," said Fiore. While there was an early-season learning curve as new players adjusted to varsity, Fiore believes, "they're starting to get it."

The combination of talent and youth makes the team highly interesting to college scouts, who have already taken notice of the promising underclassmen. Fiore credits the team's success and potential to the school's administration, which is highly supportive of the baseball program, and of the school's academic program, which attracts quality student athletes throughout Hartford County. "The school has done a great job because of academics, and now we're putting a quality product out on the field," he said.

The team defeated Norwich Tech 5-1 on Tuesday, May 28, the first game of the tournament, and then defeated Grandby 8-7 on Wednesday, May 29. As of press time, the team was bracing for the quarterfinal game against Montville on Saturday, June 1. 

With several victories under the team's belt, Fiore is a firm believer in its future. "We're young, and we're going to get better every year," he said.

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