Thomaston High's Andrew Colavecchio - Turning a year that wasn't into a season that was
THOMASTON – Andrew Colavecchio’s high school athletic days came to an end recently. There is no way of avoiding the bittersweet emotion of the time. The lucky ones and precious few walk away with a state title, most end with a loss. Either way it ends and there is a finality to it all. No one gets to repeat what has been and no one escapes it.
Colavecchio assuredly felt it all as his Thomaston Bears were ousted from the Class S baseball tournament by Shepaug, 9-0, in a second round game. But for the soft-spoken 6-foot-2, 180 pound Golden Bear there was a fountain of the sweet that outweighed the bitter.
A stand-out three-sport athlete that small schools need and thrive on, Colavecchio’s senior year was going to be a crowning crescendo to a solid career. But hopes and dreams don’t always get along with reality. For most of the year fate was in a deep conspiracy to reduce it all to a would’ve, should’ve, could’ve dose of disappointment.
As the late summer months moved into fall and through winter and March inevitably morphed into April there was barely an athletic senior year to speak of. There were precious few memories to be savored and saved because there were few memories made.
After scoring 13 goals as a junior, Colavecchio lost a major chunk of his final soccer season after having an operation to remove a tumor from his toe and saw his career end from the bench in a state tournament loss to Cromwell.
Okay, basketball would be better. Not quite. The toe heeled but there was another injury ready, willing and able to sabotage a season. Midway through the season he came down after a scramble for a rebound and landed on his arm. The result, a fractured left elbow. A season over after Game 11, the remaining time spent in a lonely spot at the end of the bench watching.
Colavecchio does not wear his emotions on his sleeve or anywhere else for that matter. It is not his style. He is not always an easy read. But you know somewhere inside it was all churning around. The year and seasons were slipping away and there was no brake pedal to stop it all and regroup.
“(The loss of the seasons) were in the back of my head,” admitted Colavecchio. “You don’t plan on injuries.”
Baseball was a last chance. It wasn’t about making the most of the chance, it was about getting the chance. And while nobody likes to lose a game let alone a season, the spring was when it counted. Baseball is Colavecchio’s best sport. To lose baseball would have been the cruelest punishment.
Colavecchio was a Berkshire League All-Star as a junior, one of the league’s top pitchers with a diverse wealth of talent that could play a smooth shortstop and swing a bat with the best of them.
This was going to be his time, a final showcase for a career well-played. And while you never want to see any high school athlete lose time due to injury, you are pained for the really good ones and watch it taken away from them.
A funny thing happened, however, before the disappearing seasons became the lost senior year. Fate backed off, it said enough. It had taken enough of a toll and finally left Colavecchio alone. He took care of the rest.
He got the showcase and offered up that kind of brilliant show that is a fitting capper to the outstanding career. The would’ve, should’ve and could’ve turned into he came and saw and conquered.
All-around there was nobody better in the Berkshire League. Thomaston’s ace was everything expected. Despite a 13-9 team that struggled with the bats often, Colavecchio posted a 6-4 record while posting an era of .913. Under one run a game. He struck out 83 in 69 innings with just 15 walks.
That would have been enough. But it wasn’t nearly. At the plate he was equally impressive. He pounded the ball for a .470 average eight of his 29 hits going for extra bases. Opponents pitched around him when they could but were never able to pitch through him.
When not pitching and hitting he was playing a smooth shortstop, a comforting defensive presence in a season where scoring runs for the Bears and holding the other team down was at a premium.
And they all noticed. A coveted All-State selection and BL-All-Star again. He got one last chance to play his sport and he played the heck out of it.
And in the grandest of finales there was that crowning crescendo, the sweetest of endings. Colavecchio toed the rubber at Thomaston High one final time in the Class S state tournament first round game on his 18th birthday.
He tossed a masterful complete game shutout in a 1-0 Golden Bear victory over Hale-Ray. He scattered five hits and struck out five. It hardly ended there. He stamped his name on every part of the game.
Colavecchio led off the fourth with a double and scored the game’s only run on Alex Mentone’s double. Still there was more.
In the third inning, he backed up first base and retrieved an errant throw and threw out the potential go ahead and winning run with a throw to second base. In the top of the seventh after Hale-Ray’s fastest runner led off with a single, Colavecchio picked him off first base.
“If this is it for him, what a way for it to end,” said one of the Bears’ coaches and yes, dad, Dave Colavecchio.
He was proud dad but he knew what he had seen as did those in attendance. A performance to take home forever.
In his toned-down manner, Drew Colavecchio was about as excited as you get to see.
“This is the best birthday present,” he said calmly sitting in the dugout after it was all said and done. “Last year we lost on my birthday. This is redemption for last year.”
The season ended the next day with the loss to Class S finalist Shepaug Valley with Colavecchio adding two hits to the final career total.
Colavecchio, also Thomaston High’s scholar-athlete recipient and National Honor Society member, will attend Siena College this fall. He does not plan on playing a sport although there was baseball interest from several schools. Baseball from here on will be done with the Bethlehem Plowboys of the Tri-State Baseball League.
But he will always have the memory of a shining final season in a year that fate almost took away. Quite a way to go out – on top.