FCIAC baseball preview: It's anyone's game

The rallying cry from the Trumbull baseball team all last season was no one believed in them. The Eagles were able to ride that mantra all the way to the winning the FCIAC Championship with an impressive tournament run that culminated in upsetting undefeated Greenwich in the championship game at Harbor Yard.

The Cardinals' unbeaten regular season surprised everyone last spring, most of all their coach Mike Mora, who knows how tough to it is to win day in and day out in the FCIAC.

The idea any team that qualifies for the tournament can win it is nothing new to FCIAC baseball, but this year it may be even tougher to even get an invitation to the final eight. Middle of the pack teams from a year ago seemed to have closed the gap, possibly leaving some perennial contenders on the outside looking in come late May.

The consensus seems to be that, aside from the three Bridgeport schools, any team has enough talent to earn a spot in the playoffs. Once you get there, as Trumbull can attest, anything can happen in a one-and-done baseball tournament.

More Information
FCIAC baseball players to watch by team
Staples: Chris Speer, P; Greg Salamone, P; Bryan Terzian, 1B; James Frusciante, CF. Harding: Jermaine Paige; Dimas Rivera; Marco Lopez.
Central: Eric Vilanova, SS; Christian Rodriguez, P/3B; Kevin Sanchez 2B.
St. Joseph: Matt Batten, SS, Mark Hirschbeck, 2B, Jon Prutting,CF Stanley Wolpiuk P.
Trumbull: James DeNomme, C; Casey Mack, 3B; Gerard Spiegel, P; Colin Keyes, P\SS.
Greenwich: Taylor Olmstead, RF; Cam Fennell 3B; Ryan Marks P/1B; Ricky Okazaki IF/C.
Trinity Catholic: Mike Palomba, IF/P; Danny O'Leary; P Randy Polonia, SS; Greg Hajjar, 2B. McMahon: Mike Giordano, C; Mark Ballard, P/SS; Alex Valenzano, P/3B; Andrew Seiden, OF.
Darien: Mackenzie Glavin, P; Andrew Maley; 3B; Carl Stowell, OF/P; Brendan Donohue SS/2B.
Ludlowe: Victor D'Ascenzo, SS/P; Kevin Hickey, P/1B; Mike Kochiss, 3B; Charlie Meder, CF.
Westhill: Tim Longo, OF; Sean Remondino, OF/P; Brian Pollack, OF; Ryan Duggan P/2B.
New Canaan: Andrew Casali, OF, P; Casey Ouellette, C; Dan Rajkowski, P; JR Anderson, P.
Warde: Mike Foley, CF; Mike DeFilippis P/OF; Taylor Carelli, SS; TJ Tracey, 3B.
Stamford: Tyler Curto, P; Derek Kronkowski, P; Tyler Kane, P; Travis Docimo, SS.
Bassick: Sergio Valenzuela, 1B/P; Maurice Kelly, C.
Note: Norwalk, Ridgefield, Danbury and Wilton did not reply to requests for information.

Before a pitch has been thrown, it is anyone's league.

Teams to Watch

1. Trumbull: The seventh-seeded Eagles shook up the league last year by catching fire in the FCIAC tournament en route to knocking off Greenwich in the final. The Eagles return a plethora of talent and come in with the confidence of a defending champion.

2. Greenwich: The Cardinals will most likely not go unbeaten in the regular season, but anyone thinking they're taking a step back after losing core players will be in for a surprise as Greenwich brings back several top flight players.

3. St. Joseph: The Cadets and Eagles make Trumbull THE town for FCIAC baseball this spring. St. Joseph returns several key players in the field and on the mound.

4. New Canaan: New Canaan was considered young last year, and despite missing the FCIAC playoffs, made a run to the state championship game in Class L. The Rams can still be considered young with a core of juniors, but a few talented seniors could make them a very tough out this year.

5. Staples: Most years, it is nearly impossible to make a list of the top teams in the FCIAC and leave Staples off and this year is no different as the Wreckers are deep at pitcher and have a lineup capable of doing serious damage.

Position Players to Watch

1. James DeNomme, Trumbull: The Hofstra bound, All-State catcher carries a big stick but may be just as valuable to the defending champions behind the plate, leading the pitching staff.

2. Taylor Olmstead, Greenwich: Olmstead, an All-State right fielder who will play at UConn next year, has all the tools scouts look for in a corner outfielder possessing power, speed and a big arm.

3. Bryan Terzian, Staples: The four-year starting first baseman will anchor a Wreckers lineup that could produce big numbers this season.

4. Mike Kochiss, Fairfield Ludlowe: The third baseman is a four year starter and the lone remaining player from the Falcons' 2010 FCIAC title team, hitting .369 last year.

6. Matt Batten, St. Joseph: The All-FCIAC and All-State shortstop, who is going to Quinnipiac, hit .408 last season with 31 Hits, 2 homeruns and 18 RBI.

Pitchers to Watch

1. Ryan Marks, Greenwich: The big lefty emerged from a talented rotation last season to become the Cardinals top pitcher and the Columbia bound starter should keep lineups under wraps this year. Marks did not allow run after his first game last year, finishing with a 0.56 ERA and a 5-0 record.

2. Stanley Wolpiuk, St. Joseph: Wolpiuk was tough last year, posting a 1.07 ERA while going 4-1 and should be even more formidable this season at the top of the Cadet's rotation.

3. Chris Speer, Staples: The Wreckers have depth at pitcher, but it all begins with Speer, who was 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA last season

4. Gerard Spiegel, Trumbull: Here is all you need to know about the UConn-bound pitcher, in the FCIAC semifinals last season he broke his thumb when a line drive hit him in the first inning and continued pitching, not allowing a run though seven innings.

5. Mackenzie Glavin, Darien: The Blue Wave lost a ton of players to graduation, but when Glavin is on the hill this season they will be able to hang with anyone. Glavin was 3-3 last season with a 1.63 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 43 2/3 innings.

6. Andrew Casali, New Canaan: If New Canaan hopes to take the next step this season, it will lean heavily on Casali's arm to deliver them to the FCIAC playoffs.

Games to Watch

1. St. Joseph at Ridgefield, April 5: Friday's matchup features two of last season's best teams with plenty of returning fire power. It should be a solid introduction to the FCIAC for first-year Tigers Coach Paul Fabbri.

2. McMahon at Staples, April 5: The two losing FCIAC semifinal teams from last season square off early on with the Senators figuring out how to play without Bryan Daniello.

3. Trumbull at New Canaan, April 8: The defending FCIAC champions travel to New Canaan to face the team on the tip of everyone's tongue when discussing the top teams in the league.

4. Trumbull at Greenwich, May 8: A rematch of the FCIAC championship game and possible preview of this season's finale.

5. Ludlowe at New Canaan, May 13: Both teams come in with high expectations but when they face each other in mid May they could be jockeying for FCIAC playoff position.

scott.ericson@scni.com; 203-625-4458; http://twitter.com/greenwichsports/