2014 All-Banner baseball team: Upright a game-changer in 2014
It's hard to believe that another school year is over, but with diplomas handed out and state titles for spring sports doled out, here is the last batch of All-Banner teams for the 2013-2014 sports year.
As always, our All-Banner team takes into account personal views by us, the sports staff, along with input from coaches, opposing coaches and statistics.
The science in selecting the team is inexact, and there are several players that had to be left off the first team, but the following list presents the best players as we saw it.
Without further ado, here is this year's 2014 All-Banner baseball team.
Most Valuable Player
Sr., Mount Anthony
Just about every season in Major League Baseball, there's a spirited debate about the Most Valuable Player.
Does it go to the player with the best statistics or to the one who is the most valuable to his team's success?
This year's All-Banner player of the year, in many respects, would be the answer for both questions and that's why we've chosen Matt Upright as our most valuable player.
Upright was the leader for the Patriots -- offensively, in the dugout and especially on the pitcher's mound. At the plate, the senior hit .310 and led the team in runs batted in, coming up with timely hits in the middle of the Mount Anthony lineup.
But his best work came on the bump, where Upright went 4-2 in seven starts with a 2.09 ERA, having to face most teams' top hurlers.
He had three pitches, a zinging fastball, a quality change and a devastating 12-to-6 curve that had hitters bailing out of the batter's box, only to take strike three as the knees buckled.
"He was picked as our No. 1 [starter] before the season, and he held his ground very well," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter. "We could always count on him to keep the runs low, which gave us a chance to win games."
Here's just a few examples: holding Hartford to 1 unearned run in an early May start; shutting down rival BBA before a chorus concert he was scheduled to perform at; throwing a gem in a 6-0 win over Otter Valley and striking out 12 and allowing just three hits in a complete-game gem against Fair Haven.
Even in the games he lost or had no-decisions, the Patriots still had a chance to win at the end.
He struck out nine and allowed only two hits in his first start of the year against Mill River, but a high pitch count forced him to come out of a one-run game. Against Rutland, he left the game after five innings with the score tied and a chance at a victory that didn't happen.
Because of that consistency, Parmenter and the other MAU coaches named Upright as the pitcher of the year for the Patriots.
"Matt is consistent, he doesn't beat himself on the mound," said BBA coach Tony Cirelli. "He's always around the plate and competent with three pitches. He did a lot of damage with his curve against us."
Jr., Mount Anthony
Mooney missed the first three games of the year with an injury, but it didn't slow the Patriot one bit. Mooney hit .353, leading the team in hitting and was also second in RBIs, while hitting third in the lineup.
"He hit the ball to all fields and with Pat (Powers) and Marcus (Laflamme) getting on base in front of him, he drove in a lot of runs," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter.
Defensively, he was stout in the middle of the infield, making the routine plays look easy and the hard plays look routine. With his consistency, MAU pitchers didn't have to worry if opposing hitters made contact.
Sr., Mount Anthony
The other half of the middle of the Mount Anthony defense, Baker was a big reason, especially defensively, why MAU finished where they did in 2014. At the team's after-season banquet, Baker was the recipient of the DiDi Raymond scholarship.
"Ellis was solid all year, playing three different positions -- shortstop, third base and pitching," Parmenter said. He struggled early at the plate, but as the season progressed, so did his batting average.
Fr., Burr and Burton
When a senior who plays the most important position - shortstop - graduates, there's a fear on who will fill that spot. On paper, that concern was increased when the heir apparent would be a freshman.
But on the field, no worries.
"It's not very often I feel comfortable putting a freshman in the lineup," said BBA coach Tony Cirelli. "Griff progressed very well during [indoor] practice and did the same outside, going from shortshop and even throwing a few innings for us."
Stalcup hit .260 in his first year at the varsity level, batting anywhere from second to sixth in the lineup.
"He did a fantastic job. There were some errors, but you expect that from a younger player. He responded tremendously," Cirelli said.
Jr., Hoosick Falls
Wright moved from the outfield to the infield, one of the most difficult position switches, in 2014, and became an integral piece to the Panthers' puzzle in his first year in the varsity lineup.
He drove in 11 runs as the team reached the Class B playoffs.
"He was a nice, versatile guy for us, put the ball on the bat and had a real solid year," said Hoosick coach Mike Lilac. "He was dependable, you could put him in the lineup and not worry about it."
Sr., Hoosick Falls
Peabody was the top player for the Panthers in 2014, hitting at a .368 clip and only striking out six times in more than 60 plate appearances. The senior leadoff hitter reached base nearly half of the time and kept opposing pitchers on edge when he got on.
"He's everything we could hope for from a leadoff hitter," said Hoosick coach Mike Lilac. "He was our leader by far."
Peabody, a first-team Wasaren League all-star, was also one of the best outfielders in the league, taking charge of fly balls anywhere near him.
"He's a smaller guy, but he's tough as nails," Lilac said.
So., Mount Anthony
Powers came up to the varsity as a sophomore for the Patriots, making an impact almost immediately. Shortly after the season began, Powers fit right into the lead off spot on the lineup and made a difference, coming up with two or three hits a game and being a nuisance to opposing pitchers on the base paths.
Powers also took over the toughest position in the outfield, center field, and patrolled the area like a 4-year varsity starter, making diving catches look easy and taking sure hits away from opponents.
"I think we had one of the best outfields in the league," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter. "Pat was a big part, covering lots of ground out there."
Jr., Mount Anthony
Most of the things said about Powers, his teammate and center fielder, could be said about the speedy Laflamme. Laflamme tied for the team lead in hits, coming up big in nearly every game in e second half with a timely hit here or stolen base there.
He led the Patriots with 12 steals out of 13 chances, forcing pitchers to pay more attention to him and not as much to the hitters.
"That helps the hitters so much, the pitchers have to worry about him," MAU coach Walt Parmenter said. If they don't, it pretty much guaranteed him second base."
Jr., Burr and Burton
Usually the best defender on a high school baseball team in one of the middle infielders, but for the Bulldogs this season, it was Maitland who led the charge on defense.
Maitland, who was the defensive player of the year for BBA, was solid behind the plate, throwing out seven runners, including three against Mount Anthony and did a nice job in handling a young pitching staff.
"90 percent of the time, he was right on, a tremendous defensive catcher," said BBA coach Tony Cirelli. "He was solid with people on base, kept the ball in front of him and did a great job in throwing guys out."
On offense, Maitland started slowly, but ended up batting .285, a respectable total.
"He was one of our leading hitters in the second half," Cirelli said. "We moved him up in the lineup to take advantage of that."
Sausville played three different spots - pitcher, catcher and first base - in 2014, and was one of the best players in the area at all of them. The senior hit .386, only striking out twice all year. He drove in 10 runs, scored 11 more and was a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen bases.
"Brady was Cambridge's best player by far," said Hoosick coach Mike Lilac. "He's a great contact hitter, and on the mound, he's a crafty lefty. In every game, he gave them a chance to win."
So., Hoosick Falls
Whitman started his first varsity season as the Panthers' No. 2 starter, but by the end of the year, Whitman was No. 1.
"He was a big surprise for us this year, pitching-wise," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac. "Coming up from JV, we didn't know how the pitching would be."
During the year, Whitman tossed 41 innings and turned in a 1.20 ERA, the lowest in the area. His season included a 13-strikeout gem against Tamarac during the season and a win over Greenwich. At the plate, he hit nearly .300 out of the second spot in the lineup.
"I'm excited to have him back next year and the year after that," Lilac said.
Sr., Burr and Burton
Rizio could have been on this list in two different places, but it was his work on the mound that was downright impressive in 2014.
Rizio led the team in ERA at 1.96 and had two of the most dominant pitching performances of the year - striking out 14 Otter Valley hitters in a 3-0 complete game win on April 29 and fanning 17 Fair Haven batters on May 19.
The win over Fair Haven was historic, as Rizio allowed a double to the Slaters' leadoff hitter and then struck out 10 in a row.
"He did a great job, he was reliable and we relied on him every time out," said BBA coach Tony Cirelli. "Coming into the season, we worked with him specifically on his curveball. He's got a nice fastball and changeup, that was a third pitch that kept him ahead of the count."
Rizio will play baseball at the next level at Keene State in New Hampshire.
Peter Muratorri, Hoosick Falls. Ethan English, Cambridge. Tyler Rondeau, Hoosick Falls. Jon Iris, BBA. Cody Roberts, BBA. Andy Romack, Cambridge. Andy Bearor, Cambridge. Carson Cushman, MAU.
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