NAUGATUCK — Some of the most important lessons learned from the game of baseball are taught on the field. For the Greyhounds, classroom N109 at Naugatuck High is an extension of the field.
Head coach Tom Deller and his assistant coach Ron Plasky have regularly gathered the team in room N109 over the past few seasons for old fashion, sit-around chats.
It’s not really baseball 101 that’s discussed, rather the conversations are meant to learn about each other and form a family bond. They discuss team and player goals, team chemistry and an assortment of topics.
“There is really no set routine but we have spent some time in room N109,” Deller said. “We’ve been doing it for a while now. Sometimes we will watch an inspirational video. Other times it’s a place to meet to go over signs or we can use it as a motivational thing.
“The whole idea is to bring the team together and to try and develop that team chemistry that is so essential to a successful season. Over the course of a season things can get discombobulated, so this is a way to try and not let that happen.”
To further that team chemistry the Greyhounds made a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y. this past weekend. They spent a great deal of time together at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field.
“We have gone there before and actually got to play on the field against Torrington a few times,” Deller said on Monday. “We haven’t gone in a few years and the kids wanted to go up there. The parents did a great job raising the money and they even got to bond with one another.”
The bonding process is crucial for teammates that are spending basically every day together during a ten-week period of time. It’s necessary when it comes to picking each other up during the down times and celebrating the good times.
“It was awesome to see the Hall of Fame and just bond together as a team,” senior Corey Plasky said. “We had so much fun and it was a good experience. We were close as a team to begin with but spending time like this really brings out that team chemistry.”
Naugatuck has four seniors to lead the way this season. The Greyhounds have a lot of younger players trying to fit into their roles and feeling like one as a team is one of the hardest hurdles to clear.
“The past couple of years we have been around a .500 team on the field and we are just tired of not living up to our potential,” senior Joevanni Torres said. “The classroom is where we can go to iron some things out so it doesn’t snowball on us and we can address things before they get out of hand. In that classroom we are family, and you can feel and see that bond grow day by day.”
After the weather postponed Naugatuck’s three games last week, the Greyhounds took the field on Monday to open the season. Their chemistry was on full display as the Greyhounds battled back from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-3 over Sacred Heart.
Senior Shane Swierbitowicz got the start against the Hearts but ran into trouble with two outs in the first inning when a pair of wild pitches plated two runs.
Zack Royka came on and put the fire out by throwing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Royka also had two hits and two RBI to help lead the Greyhounds to victory.
Torres and Marinaro scored two runs each as Naugatuck plated three runs in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3. Naugatuck pushed two more across the dish in the bottom of the fifth for the 5-3 win.
Derek Sampaio threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and one run. Corey Plasky came on to get the final two outs for the save.
“What helps this team is we don’t have a bunch of guys going off in different directions,” senior Steve Marinaro said. “We have four seniors to lead the way and our focus is to bring this team together as one. It’s not the seniors are over here and the freshmen are over there. We are all in this together and it’s our job to pick each other up.”
The Greyhounds fell to Wolcott, 14-1, on Wednesday with Swierbitowicz providing the run with a solo home run. Marinaro added two hits.
Naugatuck scored seven runs in the fifth Thursday against Torrington to turn a 3-1 deficit into an 8-3 lead, as the Greyhounds went on to win by that score.
Royka had three hits and a home run for the Greyhounds (2-1).
Marinaro pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed seven hits and three runs and struck out five batters. Torres pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed one hit and struck out one batter.
The Greyhounds will host Kennedy on Saturday and Ansonia on April 17.
This story has been updated from the version that appears in the April 14 print edition of the Citizen’s News to include results from games played through April 13.