STONINGTON — Call it a healthy sibling rivalry.
First, Gabby Dellacono, a state champion tennis player in the spring as a Stonington High junior, made an early commitment in April to attend Brown University in the fall of 2019.
Now, three months later, brother Ben has made a verbal commitment of his own.
Ben Dallacono, 18, a former SHS student/athlete who transferred to Avon Old Farms after his sophomore year, has accepted an offer to play baseball at the College of Holy Cross.
Good athletic genes, those Dellaconos.
“We’ve always been a competitive family,” said Ben, who is two years older than his sister. “I’ve always played tennis with her, and in the beginning, I used to keep up. Now it’s not even a game. She crushes me. But I’m sure if she pitched against me I could smack a home run off her.”
Dellacono’s been doing plenty of hitting at Avon Old Farms, an all-boys boarding school in Avon, Conn.
The middle infielder’s been named to the All-Founders League team in each of his two seasons. This past spring, he hit .339 (20 for 59) with seven doubles and 19 RBIs and had a .437 on-base percentage for the Winged Beavers (15-5), who finished second in the league. He also played varsity basketball in the winter.
The 6-3, 185-pounder announced his decision to attend Holy Cross via Twitter on July 13.
“It was definitely one of the schools at the top of my list,” said Dellacono, who like his sister will be a senior in the fall. “It’s definitely a great opportunity and I just had to take it.”
Dellacono said he fielded offers from eight schools, and visited Fairfield (Conn.) University, Sienna College (Loudon, N.Y.), and Trinity College (Hartford) in addition to Holy Cross. He chose the Worcester, Mass., school because of its proximity to his family’s Stonington home and his fondness for Crusaders head coach Greg DiCenzo and his staff.
“It’s a close distance from home, so my parents can come and see the games and it wouldn’t be such a burden to travel,” he said. “And Coach D and the coaching staff are all great guys. I can’t wait to play for them. It was just the best fit for me, I feel.”
An honor-roll student, Dellacono is undecided on a major but is leaning toward either medecine or business.
Holy Cross, a Division I program that’s a member of the Patriot League, got off to a 1-8 start this past season before finishing 18-27 (11-14 in the league). In 2017, the Crusaders won their first Patriot League championship.
At Stonington High, Dellacono played baseball, basketball and football. In 2015, as a freshman shortstop, he started every game and hit .295; as a sophomore, .267.
It was after that year he enrolled at Avon Old Farms, introduced through family connections and attracted by its successful baseball program — the Beavers have won 16 Colonial or Founders league titles since 1996 and had two players selected in June’s Major League Baseball draft.
“I took a tour of it and fell in love with it,” he said. “The whole environment — everyone wants to be successful. … At baseball games, every single game there are four or five scouts. It’s definitely a different atmosphere than playing at Stonington.”
Dellacono, who also played football (wide receiver) and basketball (swingman) his first year for the Beavers, made an immediate impact on the diamond. Reclassified as a sophomore (thus gaining another year of eligibility), he played the middle infield positions and left field before taking over at second base. He hit .361 (22 for 61) with a team-leading nine doubles and 16 RBIs.
Next season, he’ll be one of three captains.
“He’s a competitive kid,” said Brian Doyle, who’s been on the Beavers’ varsity baseball staff for 18 seasons, the last two as head coach. “It’s like life, you’ve gotta earn it. He earned it. He started right away.
“He’s a super-athletic kid. He can dunk a basketball. … I would say that he’s an incredibly hard worker who’s passionate about sports, especially baseball. He’s one of those kids who’s a gym rat. He’s always hitting and has a glove under his arm.”
Best of all, Doyle said, is Dellacono’s ability at the plate.
“He led the team in doubles as a sophomore, which is pretty remarkable,” Doyle said. “His best attribute is hitting. He can run, and he’s certainly capable in the field. He can play anywhere. He’s a good all-around player. Holy Cross is looking at a kid who knows how to play second base, shortstop and in the outfield, and who has some pretty remarkable numbers.
“We’re happy to have him, and obviously excited for him. Holy Cross is a great school.”
Dellacono is excited, too, for his Holy Cross career and beyond. Perhaps one day both he and Gabby, a top-10 USTA-ranked player in New England in her age group, will be professionals in their respective sports.
“I’ve always had aspirations of going pro, but you never know how things will work out,” he said. “It could happen so I’m hoping.”