Charger Chat

Sean Malone

This week, Sports Editor Sean Malone sat down with The University of New Haven’s baseball head coach, Chris Celano. Coach Celano is entering his third season as head coach of the Chargers and is looking to repeat with UNH as NE-10 Champions again.

Photo Provided by Charger Athletics
Photo Provided by Charger Athletics

Sean Malone: You lost a lot of talented players from last season; on offense you lost Stephen Clout and Joe Romanelli. How do you plan on replacing those players in the lineup and on the field?

Chris Celano: I think it will be a challenge; they were staples in the lineup since I got here two years ago. The right field situation will be a combination of Chris DeMorais who was our DH last year and is fully healthy this year and will be able to get out there and play the outfield. There are a couple of freshmen in the mix as well, Eddie Tamarro and Rob Petrillo that could see time as well. We also have Senior Timmy Geer who could mix in for time in right field. Behind the plate I think it will be a mixture of Jason Lewicki who was our set up man last year but as everybody knows is also very good back there behind the plate and Sophomore TJ Riccio who did get some time last year behind Joe. He will also figure in and we’ll see how that plays out.

SM: Jason Lewicki is interesting because seeing him last year as the set up man and the kind of season he had I thought he was right in line to take over for Peter Jay, one of the pitchers that left, as the closer. He had an ERA of zero by the end of last season. Why take him out of the bullpen when you are losing a great reliever in Peter Jay?

CC: To be honest we are not going to. [Jason Lewicki] is going to get the first crack at closing I also can see him getting behind the dish. It is something we are going to have to manage, something we are going to have to strategically do. I think he can do both, [catch and close] we have kind of done it in the fall. This preseason [we] kind of really tried to do it, and get that experience before we start playing through practice and things like that.  So he will get a crack at closing. It is pretty hard to go through a season and not allow a run, especially over 18-20 innings which he did last year. So by all accounts he definitely deserves that chance [at closing] and he is going to do it and I can see him figuring in[to] basically both roles.

SM:  Two pitchers who have also left, Taylor Candage and Henry Hirsch, have moved on.  How do you plan to replace those guys on the back end of your rotation?

CC:  Again those will be difficult shoes to fill but we have quite a bit left from last year.  Guys that figured in and threw a lot of innings for us, Frank Villacha, Joey Royer, John Melville [are] guys who have made starts for us in the past. [They] will definitely anchor which will add to our number one pitcher who has rightfully earned the “Ace” position for us.  I can see a couple of freshman figuring in to as well as Derek Drag. Who is a senior as well and has a lot of experience. Those five spots we feel pretty good about.

SM: What is going to be the key this year to repeat as NE-10 Champs?

CC: The one thing you hit on the most was repeating as champs. First of all I think it is going to be a very different felling because there is going to be a target on our back. We have never really experienced that not ever having won the conference before last year.  Last year we did it on pitching, it started there and as you know we had a guy that we could run out there in the 7th inning of every game and really close it down. It really shortened the game to six or seven innings on a daily basis. If we can figure that role out it will really help us get back into that groove from last year. Your starting pitching is and has to be your starting pitching if you are going to be successful so I am going to put it all on those guys’ shoulders. Without good starting pitching, no team is going to win.  In our level with the wood, the most of it is going to come down to starting pitching.