The Connecticut high school baseball championships will be played this weekend, and some of the playoffs were played on the state’s newest stage. Four high school teams got to play at the brand new minor league stadium in Hartford.
J.T. Lanese said that before his team ever took the field, his coach had to talk to his players. He reminded them of this: a baseball field is a baseball field.
“Coach talked to us,” Lanese said. “He said, 'This field is very nice, but the pitcher’s mound is 60 feet, six inches away from the plate just like our home field. First base is 90 feet away from home plate just like our field.’ We treated it just like an everyday field. After that, we just played normally.”
Lanese is a senior at Foran High School in Milford, and he was there for Wednesday’s state baseball semifinals -- the first playoff games ever played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. In the opener, a team that started the season with one win and 11 losses, Foran, beat Watertown 10-5. It was the last team to qualify and given its record, it was a big surprise. They won’t even finish with a winning record.
But the moment wasn’t too big for J.T.’s little brother Kevin Lanese, who lined an RBI double to open the scoring in the first inning.
“It was very important,” he said. “I was able to set the tone for the team. After that, our team just got pumped up and we were able to score runs.”
Foran will meet North Haven Saturday night for a chance to win the school’s first state baseball title. It’ll go down in Middletown. But could the finals one day be held at Dunkin' Donuts Park?
“We’re in talks with the CIAC about being able to host those,” said Tim Restall, general manager of the Hartford Yard Goats. “We haven’t gotten our 2018 schedule. I think that’s something that will play into it so once we get that, we’ll see what next year brings.”
For the Lanese brothers, playing in Hartford was cool. But getting into the finals was even better.