High school baseball returned this past spring and a plethora of local teams and players put together noteworthy seasons.
Berlin fell in the Class L state championship game, Newington advanced to the Class LL quarterfinal round, Southington earned the No. 1 seed in Class LL and New Britain qualified for the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
With that, 10 area players were selected for this year's All-Herald baseball team in Berlin's Jamie Palmese and James Ellis, Southington's Devan Bade and Dante D'Amore, New Britain's Chris Gibbs and Yan Hernandez, Newington's Zach Nakonechny, Plainville's Tyler Bonney, Goodwin Tech's Matt Snow and Innovation's Adam Renta.
Palmese powered the Redcoats as its leadoff hitter in 2021 while Ellis was strong on the mound as part of their three-man starting pitching corps.
For the Blue Knights, Bade and D'Amore led them to a 19-1 regular season record before they fell in the second round of the playoffs. Both will be heading to Division I programs this year as Bade will play for Binghamton while D'Amore is set to suit up for Sacred Heart.
Gibbs and Hernandez were key to the Hurricanes solid season as the pair produced consistently on offense and defense.
“Chris Gibbs was a key factor for us to win our division in 2021,” New Britain coach Roberto Mercado said. “He led our team with a 1.57 ERA and 75K’s in 57 Innings pitched. We look forward to seeing him at Mitchell College for the next four years.
“Yan Hernandez led our team in hits, runs scored and walks,” Mercado said. “He kept the team loose and locked in at the same time. He was a key member of our success in 2021.”
Nor'easters' Nakonechny played a big role in their impressive season as the hard-throwing right-hander served as their ace throughout the season.
“Zach was a special player for us throughout his career and especially his senior year,” Newington coach Ben Alaimo said. “He was not only a statistical leader, but also a leader off the field as well. His success comes from all the work he put in during his off-seasons in the weight room, in the cages and in the bullpen. He not only loves to play, but he loves to prepare and that speaks volumes.”
Bonney quietly put together a great season with the Blue Devils as he led the team in batting average, hits, runs scored and stolen bases.
“Tyler was a person that takes the game of baseball really seriously,” Plainville coach Lou Mandeville said. “When he played and he practiced, he did everything well over 100 percent every day.
“Tyler was the type of kid, when he hit, I was in shock when he had an at-bat and he didn't hit the ball hard,” Mandeville said. “That's the type of year he had. He rocketed the ball. He was a leader offensively for us and he played center field for us. He had a very solid year and it was very deserving.”
Bonney, who will play college ball at Avery Point in 2022, was also part of the Avon Legion state championship team this past summer.
Goodwin Tech just missed a postseason berth in Class M, but Snow was the Gladiators' offensive catalyst during the season.
“Matt was a senior captain DH who led us in most offensive categories including a .479 batting average,” Goodwin Tech coach Joe Granja said. “He was first team All-Conference (All-CTC). He was a tremendous leader on and off the field.”
Lastly, Renta headlined the Ravens' rebuild as its junior pitching stud. Renta not only produced on the diamond, but helped guide the rest of the largely inexperienced Innovation roster over the course of the season.
The Ravens lost in the first round of the Class S tournament to Hale Ray.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.