Coach Ryan Santoro doesn't mince words: "These kids are good, man."
Facts back him up: 12-1 in the season so far, Branford's Junior American Legion baseball team has the best win percentage for any junior team in Connecticut. They're one win (in their zone) away from becoming the league's first junior qualifiers.
This weekend, they took their game outside the state at the 5th Annual Firecracker Baseball Tournament in Wrentham, Massachusetts.
All in all, Branford played well enough to enter the finals before being eliminated by Trumbull (9-0) Tuesday morning. In the process, Santoro celebrated his 100th career win yesterday against Fairfield.
The team is buoyed by great pitching: starter Jason Quido's last three games have been shutouts. At the firecracker Tournament, Quido amazed with a no-hitter against Newburgh, NY, a team good enough to score 11 runs in their next game.
Starter Sean Halligan also performed well, limiting Clinton, MA to two runs on Friday. But play has been exceptional overall for the 17-under team, made up mostly of freshman and sophomores.
"These kids, they're baseball kids," says Santoro. "They're into the game, they know situational stuff. Usually at this level, you're trying to teach fundamentals, but they're beyond that. They're into the mental aspects of the game."
After a break, Branford will hit the field again Friday against Orange (5:45 p.m., Old Tavern - Degennaro Field, Orange, CT.) With their record so far, it's looking like a very successful season for the Branford Junior Legion kids.