PLAINVILLE – A nine-game win streak propels Berlin baseball into playoff action following its 15-1 win over Plainville on Monday.
The Redcoats rounded out the year with a 17-3 record, with its only losses coming against Hall, Southington, and state-power East Catholic. Recently, Berlin has been hitting the ball well as it’s outscored its opponents 77-16 over the nine-game stretch.
“We hit the ball hard. Hopefully we can continue,” Redcoats coach Leo Veleas said. “The regular season is over, now it’s the postseason. If you lose there, you go home so hopefully we can play well. That’s what we’re trying to do, pitch and play defense. If we can scratch in a few runs we’ll be in good shape, no complaints.”
In its big win against the Blue Devils, Berlin bashed nine hits, with four of those counting for extra bases. When asked what’s been working for the squad during this win streak, Veleas said sticking to the basics has proven beneficial.
“We work on basic fundamental stuff every day in practice,” Veleas said. “Hopefully it shows in the game. We do nothing other than that. Everything we do in practice we want to do in game speed and so when we get into a game, the game is easy. Pitching and defense I stress that since I started coaching. That’s what I believe in because if that guy on the mound is pitching well. He’ll keep us in the game.”
Matt Kozak earned the win for the Redcoats on Monday, tossing four strikeouts in five innings while allowing just four hits and one run.
“I don’t know if we have a number one. He’s one of our three top pitchers,” Veleas said. “Our two other guys that pitched Saturday, we had to use them both in an 11-inning game. Everybody threw a ton of pitches so we couldn’t use any of those guys. Matt’s done a great and he’s coming off an injury. He got hit with a line drive against Platt and that sidelined him for a bit. He got whacked pretty good.”
Nine seniors, including Kozak, make up Berlin’s leadership group this season. Tyler Rice and Nick Melville each played well versus Plainville, smacking a triple and double, respectively.
Veleas hopes his upperclassmen can lead the way during the postseason on a relatively inexperienced Redcoats roster.
“We missed a whole year, so I only have two guys that have varsity experience that played today from two years ago,” Veleas said. “You look to your seniors, they’re older, hopefully they’re wiser, more physically mature, I think it makes a difference. You get younger kids and put them in that situation. Sometimes they make a mental mistake, physical or mental, and younger kids do make those mistakes. You want to see your older guys out there, I do anyways, if they’re good enough.”
Berlin is the reigning Class L state runner-ups, as it fell to Waterford, 1-0, in 2019 during the title game. The Redcoats looked primed for another deep playoff run this time around as they appear to be firing on all cylinders at the best possible time of the year.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.