TriTown pg 9 6-13-19

By Ronald P. Coderre
The 2019 TriTown American Legion Baseball team season is on the horizon and again this year the program will feature three teams.  As the tryouts concluded the Senior team and the two Junior teams filled their rosters with 14 players on each squad.
According to executive officer Michael Merrill, the coaching staffs are set with Jason Akana handling the Senior team and Brian Murphy returning to coach the Junior Blue unit.  Lee Blanchette steps in for his initial season at the helm of the Junior Red team.
“The TriTown teams are fortunate to have the services of three solid baseball men coaching these young players.  All three men are leader with a vast knowledge of the game and are poised to teach our players the fundamentals as well as guiding them with values that go beyond the diamond,” said Merrill.
Akana, who is in the Tourtellotte and Worcester State University Athletic Halls of Fame, brings a wealth of baseball knowledge and experience to the program.  The Tourtellotte graduate enters his second season as the head mentor of the Senior team after serving two seasons as an assistant.  Last season Akana, who played three seasons for TriTown under legendary coach Tom Auclair, led the Towners to a respectable 15-12 record.
In addition to playing for Tourtellotte and TriTown, Akana played one season at Manchester Community College on a team that went to the Junior College World Series where they lost in the title contest.  While at Worcester State, Akana was the leading hitter in the country in Division III in his senior year.
Dan Zanauskas and Brian Barylski will once again serve as Akana’s assistant coaches.
Blanchette, who is a graduate of St. John’s Prep in Shrewsbury, Mass., is in his second season as a TriTown coach and his first as a head coach.  After serving as the assistant on the Blue Team last season, the Duquesne University grad, who played three seasons for the Dukes, is looking forward to his initial season as a head coach of the Junior Red squad.  He played his Legion baseball for West Boylston Post #204 for three seasons.
This spring Blanchette took over the reins of the Tourtellotte Memorial High School team and turned the program around, posting a 12-8 log.  Blanchette’s Tigers qualified for the CIAC State Tournament, the first time in more than 15 years that the phenomenon has occurred.
Assisting Blanchette this season is a pair of well-known Thompson baseball minds, Bill Steglitz and Rob L’Heureux.
Murphy, whose name is well known in baseball circles well beyond northeastern Connecticut, is in his second season as the head coach of Junior Blue team, which narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason last year.  This spring Murphy, who is in his third season as the varsity coach at Woodstock Academy, led the Centaurs to a 12-12 record and a trip to the CIAC postseason tournament.
The left-handed Murphy is one of the best southpaws to come out of northeastern Connecticut.  After starring on the mound at Tourtellotte and for TriTown, he went on to an All-American career at Eastern Connecticut State University and was drafted by the New York Yankees upon graduation.  He played two seasons of professional baseball in Paintsville, Ky., and Greensboro, N.C., where he posted an overall record of 12-4 with 30 saves.  He went on to a stellar 29-year career with the State of Connecticut as the Commissioner of Corrections.
Murphy’s assistant coaches are Eric Livingston and Chris Hehir.
According to Merrill, the teams open play this week.  The Senior squad will once again play its games at Tourtellotte Memorial High School while the Junior teams’ home field is the Bentley Athletic Complex in Woodstock.   
Updates on the progress of all three teams will be heard weekly on WINY Radio.  Members of the coaching staffs and players will appear each week on Wednesday mornings at 7:25 a.m. thanks to the support of The Crossings Restaurant and Brew Pub of Putnam.


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