Baseball

Key To Stamford Legion’s Success? Winning The Arms Race

Grant Stone has a perfect 6-0 record for Stamford's Senior Legion baseball team, which is one win away from playing for the state title. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Grant Stone has a perfect 6-0 record for Stamford’s Senior Legion baseball team, which is one win away from playing for the state title. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

When Stamford Senior Legion Coach Kevin Murray previewed his team at the start of the summer, his first and most confident statement was that the team would ride its pitching throughout the whole season, as would any team with that much talent on its roster.

The thing is, there’s just not another team out there with the pitching depth quite like Stamford’s.

There are eight aces on staff and Murray has known exactly when to use them, especially in this state tournament, where Stamford is still alive and unbeaten in the division championship round robin after defeating Cheshire, 7-6, in a 12-inning thriller and Monroe in a 4-0 shutout this past weekend.

Everyone knows Murray’s top two pitchers, Kevin Stone and Randy Polonia, who each have 5-0 records. Both are committed to Division I programs next year (Harvard and UConn, respectively), both have racked up countless conference and state accolades during their time, respectively, at Fairfield Prep and Trinity Catholic and they have earned Murray’s trust as go-to guys on the mound.

However, Murray had no need to start either for the first series of the state tournament against Trumbull. The other six guys on his roster are just as capable and just as ready to take on big-time games.

In game one, Murray started Grant Stone (6-0, 1 save), who came off of a solid junior year at Fairfield Prep with his brother.

“Grant is becoming a power arm, just like his brother, and has a high ceiling of success,” Murray said.

He pitched six innings of a close game, which ultimately came down to Anthony Frangiose’s grand slam walkoff win.

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Pete Horn (5-0) got the nod in game two, and he went the distance, holding Trumbull to just one run in the first inning. Horn is another top guy for Stamford who has had to battle back from injuries, particularly his most recent knee injury he suffered his last year at King.

“He’s a very confident pitcher who plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Murray said. “He is very dangerous at the mound.”

Horn demonstrated that last week with the fire he showed in his redemption-win to advance Stamford to the next round.

From there, Murray decided to put Kevin Stone on the mound against Cheshire and Polonia out against Monroe. Down the stretch of 12 innings against Cheshire, Stamford used its depth by bringing out left-handed Shawn Urbano, tall and athletic Billy DeVito and Bentley-bound Luke Dawson.

Stamford also has Billy Blau, who has been relied on to come in the middle of games to relieve and has delivered, according to Murray.

The team has the luxury of shuffling through the deck before any given game. The eight-man rotation is so diverse that Murray can pick and choose who will be just right to break down their opponents.

This has been absolutely key for them in the postseason, especially having so many games within a short period of time, whether they be back-to-back or in the same week. According to Murray, the team is deeper than it was last year, a key difference in the way that he has approached the tournament this time around. With Waterbury up next, Murray will go back to his deck and choose a new combination of guys in hopes to keep this postseason winning streak alive.