New Canaan's Reilly, Jones lead by example for Junior Legion team
Updated 4:57 pm, Wednesday, July 6, 2011
New Canaan's Doug Reilly and Gogo Jones, batting third and fourth, respectively, find themselves in lineup leadership roles for the Darien-New Canaan Jr. Legion baseball team. Jones, a first baseman and Reilly, a shortstop, are also in the heart of the action on the field. Their play, whether in the batter's box or on the diamonds, helps carry the team.
"They're going to lead by example. They're going to bring solid play every day, they're going to be aggressive at the plate, and they're going to show the guys how to play," Darien/New Canaan coach Mike Patrona said.
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Many of the New Canaan and Darien players are rivals on the fields during the spring high school season. When it comes time for summer league ball, however, the opponents-turned-teammates are working together to try to win and they have fun along the way.
The camaraderie the players have, in part, stems from the attitudes of the team leaders from both towns, including Reilly and Jones.
"I love it. It's not even like we're rivals," Jones said.
"It's a lot of fun," Reilly added. Reilly may hit third, but he brings a leadoff batter-type mentality to the game. "I like to bunt, so in the No. 3 spot I don't think a lot of teams expect it," he said.
Reilly, 16, is in his third year with the team and Jones, 17, has been a part of the 17 and under squad for four seasons. The New Canaan infielders may use actions more than words to lead their teammates, but they also know the importance of helping to make it fun and welcoming.
"We want to make the young guys feel comfortable around us," Reilly said. "It's a really good group -- you always want to come."
The New Canaan connection has helped the combined town team to an above .500 record heading into the week, and the local sluggers are swinging away at a shot to extend the summer into the playoffs. The team had a 9-9 record heading into Wednesday's clash with Ridgefield and needs five more wins to reach 14 to qualify for the state tournament. With nine games to play, the Darien-New Canaan squad appears to be in good shape.
The local sluggers are coming off a pretty good holiday weekend, during which they beat Norwalk 6-2 on July 1, and split a pair with Greenwich July 2 and 3, falling 4-2 and winning 7-1 in the second of the two. Following the July 4 day off, the Darien-New Canaan team closes out the regular summer season with 10 games between July 5 and July 18. The team was blanked 8-0 by Norwalk on July 5. Following the Ridgefield game and a July 7 contest with Westport, the team will have July 8 off from game action and visit Stamford on July 9.
The Darien-New Canaan squad will return home and lace up the cleats for back-to-back clashes July 10 and 11 against Bridgeport and Trumbull, respectively. The team visits Wilton and Ridgefield July 12 and 14, plays its last home game July 16 against Fairfield, and closes out the season July 18 at Greenwich.