Shelton baseball looks to make run down stretch

Shelton baseball coach Scott Gura believes his team can position itself to make run down the home stretch of the season.

“We are already on the backside of our season with 11 games in and seven to play,” Gura said of his 5-6 Gaels. “Our goal is still to make the tournament.”

Fairfield Prep, Hamden, Hand and West Haven have stood out in the SCC. Shelton and all the other league teams are around .500 or lower.

Shelton hasn’t had a full lineup available since it opened the season with two players in quarantine because of contact tracing from COVID-19. Starting pitcher Connor Jensen, who is batting .325, is out due to concussion protocol.

“We are still looking to create an identity for this team,” Gura said. “I asked the guys on Friday (after a 12-11 loss to Wilbur Cross) how can we be beating Hand the No. 1 team in state in the sixth inning and be leading Amity 3-0 in the fourth and give up 12 runs against a team with one win (Wilbur Cross).

“I’m pleased with our pitching. We got two kids back (Joe Ciccone and Ben Van Tine) from quarantine after missing the first two weeks of season. They missed six games and we are happy to have them back.”

Jensen is scheduled to return on Friday when Shelton hosts Hand under the lights at 7.

“Ben Van Tine pitched the game of his life against Hand the first time before he ran out of gas,” Gura said of the 7-4 loss to GameTimeCT’s top-ranked team. “We had only Anthony Steele and Max McLoughlin back with experience. We have seven or eight other guys getting acclimated in the infield and outfield.”

Steele has struck out 46 batters in 26 innings, including 7 of 9 to start the Amity game (an 8-3 loss to the No. 4 team). McLoughlin is 2-0. Shawn Smith is batting .417.

Gura said: “Anthony has 17 hits in 27 plate appearances with three home runs in our first 10 games. He is one of the top hitters in the program in my 22 years coaching here (head coach the last 13) with Matt Hunyadi (2018), Jamie Schilkowski (2000), Marcello Ursini (2012), Eric Christensen (2010) and Matt Memoli (2007).

“If Anthony had all four years and full seasons to play, he could potentially have broken some of our records. Marcello Ursini had 42 hits to surpass Matt Memoli when we won states in 2012. Eric Christensen finished with 130 for a program-best to top Matt.”

And the home run record?

“Jamie Schilkowski had nine home runs,” said Gura, who with a chuckle added. “He is tied with some guy named Howie Gura (Shelton’s future Hall of Fame girls’ basketball coach). My dad graduated in 1966. He said if he could have played in a fenced field, or one with open fields, he could have hit more.

“Shelton played at Riverview Park and the only automatic home run came if you hit it on top of the War Memorial building. They had trees in left field. You had to hit it over the Evergreens and then run.” Twitter: @blox354