Despite an abundance of youth, a first-year manager and an uncertain startup due to the pandemic, the Shrewsbury Paul N. Johnson Senior Babe Ruth team hasn’t let any of those obstacles affect their play on the field, winning eight of their first 13 games while challenging for one of the top spots in the league since play began July 11.
Shrewsbury’s 18-player roster includes 11 players new to the program. Craig Colonero said he’s enjoyed his first season leading the Shrewsbury club.
“Having watched the PNJ league for years, and even played in it myself as kid, I would say the level play is as competitive as ever,” Colonero said. “Especially the pitching in the league.”
Colonero also said he was pleased any baseball at all could be played this summer after all the cancellations from the spring.
“The league did a great job planning and preparing for the season, but building a team, ordering uniforms, etc. and not even knowing if the season was going to happen was an interesting process,” Colonero said. “These kids have been conditioned of late to be disappointed, so once we starting playing, I think it took a game or two to really sink in.”
Once things sunk in, Shrewsbury has played quality baseball, especially for a young team.
“(What I like the most is) just seeing how the players interact with each other,” Colonero said. “They all get along well and are always having fun. We are a younger team, but have some strong veteran leaders. The great thing about this team is that everyone has played, and contributed.”
Shrewsbury has been led by a strong crop of arms, highlighted by John Considine and Joe Morgan, who have been a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Andrew Pitney has excelled in he closer’s role while also hitting over .400. First-year player Mike Merindino also has had a number of strong outings, while Sam Baxter, Devin Endaz, Jack Bates and Dom Garbarino have contributed innings on the mound.
Offensively, Dante Colonero and Jake MacIsaac, like Pitney, are batting over .400.
Cade Nelson has excelled with an on-base-percentage of .500 to date.
“Cade Nelson, who is in his fourth season with the team, leads by example in everything he does,” Colonero said.
Defensively, first-year players Ryan Cayton and Matt Rossi have really flashed their leather in the infield for the Colonials while Matt Power has caught and called some great games behind the plate, according to Colonero.
“Derek Tevekelian and Cam Marques have been rock-solid in the outfield, and another first-year player, Sean Butler, has played infield and outfield well for us and hit over .300 on the season,” Colonero added.
—Contact Chris Kyne at [email protected]
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