Berlin baseball understands importance of strong start to set up rest of season

Published on Friday, 5 April 2019 19:24
Written by RYAN CHICHESTER

@ryanchichester1

BERLIN - When Berlin baseball catcher Ryan Hyde spoke after the Redcoats’ 5-2 win over defending Class L champion Wethersfield on Thursday, the senior emphasized the value of the Redcoats’ fast start in the home victory.

“Once you get that first hit of the day over, you just keep rolling,” Hyde said after Berlin jumped out to a first inning lead that eventually grew to 3-0.

The same can be said of the Redcoats’ season as a whole, as the team left Zipadelli Field with a 3-0 record, which goes a long way in setting the tone for a young season.

“It’s absolutely huge,” Hyde said. “It’s great for the guys and our confidence, especially the younger guys that don’t have varsity experience to come out here and experience a couple good wins.”

Berlin’s long-time head coach Leo Veleas has appreciated the team’s performance out of the gate, and while he admittedly expects a lot from his Redcoats, they have been up to the task over the first week of the season.

“It’s always nice when you win,” Veleas said. “I’m very critical. Call it being a perfectionist or whatever you want, but we’re striving to be perfect. Not that we can be, but we want to play the best that we possibly can. We’re asking our kids at the end of the game to say they played the best they could. I know there are some instances when guys are having a bad day at the plate, but there’s always other ways to help the team.”

So far, Veleas’ group can say that they’ve given their leader their best through three games. In a small sample size, Berlin has managed to pull out wins through all different kinds of competition. In their season opener, the Redcoats pulled out a narrow 6-4 win over Guilford before blowing out Maloney 12-6. On Thursday, Berlin pounced on seven Wethersfield errors while suffering just one miscue of their own, an errant throw on a potential double play by shortstop Dan Veleas, who had an otherwise splendid afternoon defensively.

“That’s the name of the game, pitching and defense,” Veleas said. “The pitching has been decent. We trot them out there and they throw strikes. We practice these things every single day, and hopefully we keep getting better.”

So far, the Redcoats are taking care of business, and even taking down former state champions along the way. Their veteran poise that included eight seniors in Thursday’s starting lineup has allowed them to limit mistakes, and those experienced seniors know the value of starting the season with optimism. After all, teams can only say the season is still young for so long.

“We play two more games, and a quarter of the season is over,” Veleas said. “It’s gone already, in the blink of an eye. We have to play at a very high level to be successful.”

Berlin has answered that call through one week, and its sample size is becoming large enough to gauge where this team can go this season. After reaching the second round of the Class L state tournament in 2018, the Redcoats find themselves atop the class standings through three games, and in prime position to enjoy another successful season. Many say that how a team finishes a season matters more than how it begins, but you can’t reach that finish without a strong start, and Berlin has to like what it sees so far.

“It feels really good,” pitcher Adam Bilinski said of the team’s promising beginning. “I think we’re definitely going to have a good record this season.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Friday, 5 April 2019 19:24. Updated: Friday, 5 April 2019 19:27.