Legion players speak out
“There are only eight teams left,” Milford Post 196 manager Cliff Bugyi said of his 30-6 squad that earned a berth in the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. with a 9-1 victory over Portland, Me. in the Northeast Regional final on Aug. 6.
“I keep saying it, but this is a close-knit team. I’ve had good teams with great chemistry, but this is a unique team.”
Milford will play New Orleans, the Southwest champ, in its Series’ opener at 5 p.m. Friday.
Sean Cameron, Matt Ferraiolo, Jake Saley, Nick Pinto, Drew DeRubeis and Nolan Rourke are products of Jonathan Law.
Kyle Winters, Ed Michaud, Cody Hadden, Taylor Biagoni, Shawn Cariglio, Andrew Patrick and Joe Zanghi all played for Foran High.
Christian Baglini comes from Notre Dame-West Haven, Pat Boyle from St. Joseph of Trumbull, and Steven Clark from Platt Tech.
It is a continuation of a season of firsts for Post 196, as they notched state and regional titles for the only time in program history.
“I’ve been on teams that get along, but nothing like this,” Baglini said.
“We’re from five different schools, and it’s like we’ve been together forever. It really is a brotherhood.”
Cameron, who bats leadoff and plays center field, said, “We hadn’t all played together before, but once we got to know each other and started hanging out off the field, things started clicking.”
Hadden pitched a complete game against Portland and Milford continued to swing the bats well to win for the 12th straight game in the postseason.
“Everything was working and we played great defense,” said Hadden, who allowed six hits, a fourth-inning run, and struck out four to win his second start in the regional.
“Coach [Bugyi] told me to do what I do and throw strikes. “We [catcher Joe Zanghi] tried to work the slider in to keep them off-balance.
“I hit 100 pitches today, but I told Coach in the sixth inning I wanted to go the distance.”
Bugyi, who is assisted by Denis Haley and Dave Quinn, said: “Cody has been excellent for us. He threw strikes and has been consistantly good for us in the postseason.”
“Our pitchers have all been tremendous. Cody is now seven and one, and Matt Ferraiolo is 8-1 as our number one guy.
“Jake Saley is 6-2 and has been lights out, and Taylor Biagoni has pitched a pair of seven-inning games and is throwing his breaking ball for strikes.”
Baglini is 4-0 in relief and Zanghi has also pitched in with four-plus shutout innings.
Ferraiolo said: “Both Foran and Law had good talent and made runs at it [titles]. We put all that together with the returnees, and we’re having a blast.”
Pinto, batted .467 with an on-base percentage of .579 from the nine hole, has been busy in right field for Milford, including a highlight-reel catch of Drew Ferrick’s drive into gap to end the sixth.
He said: “Our pitching has been fantastic [a region-best 1.67 ERA] and our sticks are swinging...We outscored the other teams 39-10 [region-best .341 average] in five games, which is outstanding.”
Zanghi hit his second home run in two games with a moon shot to left field that carried an estimated 361 feet over the 12-foot high fence in the bottom of the first inning.
“I thought I got under it when I saw the outfielder standing by the wall, but I guess it carried,” said Zanghi, who had been scheduled to play in an All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.
“There was no chance in the world I was going to miss this. We’re having so much fun.
“Our of our pitchers have just been throwing strikes. All are making the ball move, and making it easy for me.”
Michaud, voted regional MVP with a region-besat .571 average, had singled with two out and scored ahead of the blast.
“After we played Saco [in the tourney opener], we looked around and said to each other that we can compete here,” Michaud said. “We’re going to take that with us.”
Cariglio, who finished the game with five RBIs and batted .368, restarted the rally with a single.
Saley, who batted .369 with six RBIs, and Baglini at .333, tacked on base hits, with Baglini’s single to center plating Cariglio for a 3-0 lead.
“This is awesome,” Saley said. “I have Joe and Shawn hitting right in front of me, and Christian swinging the bat behind me.”
Cariglio said: “I’ve never been on a team like this. In a team sport, you can’t count on just one player. One to nine everyone does his job.”
Milford put another two-run rally together in the second.
This time it was Winters, who batted .318 and was outstanding at second base, getting things started with a single.
“Our pitchers throw to contact and we go out there and make plays,” Winters said. “We do for them; and they do for us.”