NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Versatility has been one of the staples of Chris Vartuli’s baseball skill set. This summer, the Norwalk native has been instrumental in helping the New Canaan Cannons roll to the front of the pack in the Fairfield County Men’s Senior Baseball League.
Vartuli, a former standout at Brien McMahon, Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac helped the Cannons finish 17-3 during the regular season. The 29-year-old went 3-1 on the mound, picked up a couple of saves and played shortstop and catcher.
“He can play anywhere,’’ teammate Wally Hurd said. “He’s great behind the plate, he can pitch, and he can play short, wherever we need him. He’s been quite an asset. It doesn’t hurt that he’s young. He can come in and pinch run for a lot of us.”
“I’m definitely surprised,’’ Vartuli said. “I go out and do the best I can. I’ve been fortunate to have a good year and we’re putting it all together.”
Vartuli is one of the younger players on the Cannons, whose core has been well-established. The team has not won the league title, however, since 2004. Manager Dave Prutting sought younger men to join the team, and hit a home run with the addition of Vartuli. Prutting has called Vartuli “the best player in the league” this year.
“We had to get younger guys if we want to compete with the other teams,’’ Hurd said. “Especially with pitching. You get a lot craftier as you get older, but you don’t have that pop on the fastball.”
Vartuli, who was an all-Central Division selection for McMahon in 2000, has blended in well with the Cannons. “It’s been pretty easy,’’ Vartuli said. “They’re as talented as some of the young guys and they make all the plays. They’ve been around and they can give you a lot of tips about the opponents. They might be older but I don’t see them that way. I see them as teammates.”
The Cannons are hoping Vartuli can help push them over the top in the upcoming playoffs. The semifinals are this weekend, and the finals are next weekend. New Canaan’s opponent has not yet been determined. “This is what you play for,’’ Vartuli said. “We have a good team and we’ll be competitive against whoever we play. We’re ready to get it started.”