Same Bases, New Faces: 2016 New Canaan Rams Baseball Preview

In 2015, New Canaan Rams Baseball had a crop of senior talent that could be argued as the best in the program’s past decade, with the possible exception of 2007’s class headlined by now Tampa Bay Rays catcher, Curt Casali and the 2013 state championship-winning team led by Andrew Casali and Casey Ouellette. 11 seniors suited up for the Rams last year (15-5, 14-4 FCIAC; made FCIAC and CIAC Class L Playoffs), including regular starters Alex LaPolice (OF/P), David Giusti (P/OF), Brandon Abate (SS), Zack Smith (C), Kyle Levasseur (3B), and Kane Curtin (RF), as well as the oft-called-upon-pitcher, Clark Newlove. And having that amount of veteran leadership allowed the Rams to erase late-game deficits on several occasions, pulling out classic win after classic win — certainly making the 2015 squad one of the more thrilling baseball teams of recent memory. Even so, the byproduct of having such a large, vital senior class one year is that it means the next year will be filled with a lot of fresh faces. Enter the 2016 Rams of New Canaan Baseball.

‘It’s All About the Program’: MLB’s Curt Casali Headlines New Canaan Baseball Clinic

Many high school coaches would consider winning a state championship the ultimate goal, a culmination of hard work, development and sacrifice. But for New Canaan baseball coach Mitch Hoffman, winning the 2013 Class L baseball title was only the first building block of a program that is becoming one of the best in Connecticut, both in terms of winning games and helping players move on to the next level—college baseball—and maybe even beyond to the pros. Perhaps nowhere was that program better illustrated from top to bottom than at Tuesday’s New Canaan Baseball alumni clinic at Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy in Stamford. Dozens of future Rams from New Canaan’s growing youth baseball program attended the session run by Hoffman and several Rams stars of the past and present, including current players Robbie Jones, Mike Pelli and Troy Dunnam, collegiate players Casey Ouellette (University of Bridgeport), David Giusti (Lafayette), Dan Rajkowski (UCONN), Zack Smith (Salve Regina), J.R. Anderson (Amherst) Matt Toth (Trinity) and perhaps most notably, New Canaan’s first MLB player, Curt Casali of the Tampa Bay Rays. “It’s all about the program,” Hoffman told

New Canaan Baseball Tops Stratford 11-2 in Class L Opener

With rain pushing the opening game of the CIAC Class L playoffs from Monday to Wednesday—with a potential second round game to follow on Thursday—New Canaan Rams head coach Mitch Hoffman knew pitching would be at a premium. A best-case scenario for New Canaan would be to open up a big lead for pitcher David Giusti, allowing Hoffman to get his ace some much-needed rest for the road ahead. Thankfully for the Rams, Hoffman could not have written a better script himself Wednesday afternoon at Mead Park. Tenth-seeded New Canaan scored five runs in the first inning and added three more in the second en route to an 11-2 win over No. 23 Stratford.

New Canaan Baseball Rallies Twice for Senior Day Win Over St. Joe’s

The afternoon started with a pregame ceremony honoring the 11-member New Canaan Baseball senior class that has accomplished so much over the last four years, highlighted by the program capturing its first state championship since 1950, back during their sophomore campaign in 2013. Before all was said and done though, it was two underclassmen—sophomore Mike Pelli and junior Thomas Williams—who were put into high-pressure situations on the mound and delivered. Their performances, sandwiched around a 2-RBI single from senior co-captain Brandon Abate in the bottom of the 6th that put the Rams ahead for good, led New Canaan to a 10-9 victory over the St. Joe’s Cadets. “You’re asking a young kid [Pelli] to come in, who pitched in the JV game on Monday, and I asked him today how his arm felt, and I said we might need you for one inning,” New Canaan Head Coach Mitch Hoffman told “This is how it’s going to be.

Errors Plague Rams As New Canaan Baseball Falls to Darien 6-1

It was a contest pitting the top two teams in the FCIAC up against one another. Bitter rivals and storied programs with both teams featuring their respective ace on the mound. With hundreds of fans from both Darien and New Canaan lining the fences at Mead Park, it had all the makings for a classic showdown. In the end, it was the Blue Wave who took advantage of seven New Canaan errors, spoiling the home team’s bid for first place in the conference by besting the Rams 6-1. “It was, unfortunately, poor execution,” New Canaan head coach Mitch Hoffman told “We had more errors than either team had hits, which is not going to work.”