WALLINGFORD — In 2004 the Sheehan baseball team played every state playoff game on the road en route to winning the Class M baseball championship.
Sheehan finished the regular season at 10-10 and was seeded No. 21. The Titans knocked off No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield, 5-0, in the championship game.
The final out was a groundball to then senior second baseman Dom Lombardozzi.
Seventeen years later, Lombardozzi is now leading the Sheehan program and has his team playing like the 2004 squad.
This year, Sheehan came into the Class M tournament as the No. 21 seed after finishing 9-9. The Titans beat Wolcott Tech and Tolland on consecutive days.
“When you get hot at the right time, as we have seen, anything can happen,” Lombardozzi said. “We scored in the first inning of every (tournament) game (in 2004). That puts pressure on the other team.”
Sheehan went down early against Tolland but scored three times in the second inning and never trailed the rest of the game. Sheehan will travel to play No. 4 Waterford in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“It’s a good feeling, I wanted to get on the bus on Saturday,” Lombardozzi said. “We wanted to practice (Thursday), that was the message (Tuesday). Let’s practice tomorrow, that would be fun.”
Since 2000, Sheehan has won four state titles — its last in 2015 — and has been to five championship games, but the Titans hadn’t won a state tournament game since the 2016 season.
The team was ousted in first round in 2017 and 2019 and didn’t make the tournament in 2018.
“It’s hard filling in some big shoes,” Sheehan senior Joe Amarone said.
Amarone started at shortstop since his freshman year and knew this group — one that he has played with since youth — would be the one to start winning in the state tournament again.
“I had no doubt in my mind that this group of guys could make it this far,” he said.
The team started the season hot, winning four of its first five games before losing seven of their next 11.
It wasn’t until the second to last game of the season, when Sheehan beat Xavier, that the team clicked.
“That really turned it around for us, was a really exciting win,” senior Anthony Romano said. “Beating a good team like that, it gave us confidence that if we go out and do our job, we can keep up with anybody.”
The Titans will have their hands full on Saturday against Waterford, a team that has been ranked in the GameTimeCT top 10 poll all season, but with the history of the 2004 running their team, they know anything is possible.
“We know it has been done before especially here at Sheehan it has been done, it is something that boosts our confidence,” Romano said. “It’s fun being the underdog, there’s really not much pressure on us.”
LOSING A LEGEND
The Sheehan baseball team learned Wednesday that the program’s first baseball coach Bob Neubauer died.
Neubauer coached both baseball and cross country at Sheehan. He was also a physical education teacher.
In 2016, the baseball field at Sheehan was named in his honor and Neubauer Invitational in cross country is named after him as well.
“The people that I talked to today the only word that was used, was legend,” Lombardozzi said. “He is a Wallingford, Sheehan legend. Everybody he met was his best friend.
“The outpouring support from former players, peers, colleagues, shows that he did it right.”
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