"And I was the one who caught it," Hill said. "It was pretty hard, too."
It's that way in southeastern Connecticut, the tradition of great baseball passed on year to year. Now, Hill is embracing another growing baseball tradition.
"After my first visit here, I really had my heart set on UConn," said Hill, who was wearing the Huskies' colors for the first time. "What they've done here the last few years, it has me jacked. I watched George Springer a lot, and I liked the way he played the game. And LJ Mazzilli — absolutely amazing. And then Tom Verdi … it's pretty cool playing where these guys have played."
Hill is an exciting offensive player. He hit .395 with 19 steals for Fitch last year. "I don't want to be known as just a speedster," he said. "I've got some pop in my bat, too." But as he took the field Thursday on Scouts Day, with 26 major league scouts sitting behind home plate, it was his rangy, flashy defense that turned heads.
"He makes the spectacular play look very easy," coach Jim Penders said. "We just have to get him to make the routine play look routine. He has special skills."
The four-year period just ended was a historic one for UConn baseball, which went to the NCAA Tournament three times and won the Big East Tournament last May. Seven players from those teams finished the minor league season playing Double A ball or higher.
Next year, UConn will have much of its team back — with an influx of talented freshmen like Hill and outfielder Taylor Olmstead, from Greenwich, who turned down a six-figure offer from the Texas Rangers to keep his commitment to UConn.
"For me, I thought the best choice was to come to UConn and play for a great, competitive program that I've been watching since I was a kid," Olmstead said. "I love the coaches here, the players and the atmosphere."
Olmstead played football at Greenwich High, and had offers from Ivy League schools.
"I'm all baseball now," he said. "Baseball is my one true love."
To reach into the farthest corners of the state and keep talent in Connecticut is the foundation on which Penders has built. Time was, the best of Connecticut players looked south. Harvey, for instance, went to North Carolina.
"Now, you have to cover the whole state," Penders said, "because now we feel like we have a chance to get everyone here."
The Huskies have their top three pitchers returning — Carson Cross, Anthony Marzi and Jordan Tabakman — but they are looking to improve their offense, and players like Olmstead and Hill could help there.
"Taylor is one of those guys, the ball sounds different when he hits it," Penders said. "He just has to work out some things with his swing, be more consistent."
Tom Verdi, a senior who has been the starting shortstop for the past two seasons, is already talking about an American Athletic Conference championship and passing the baton, the UConn way, to the new, young Huskies.
"I'm as excited about next year as I've ever been," he said. "We've got almost our whole team back, and we've got some great freshmen. Aaron's a stud, he moves out there. He's going to play for us, he should play. Taylor, it's all about the swing."
"I had the greatest role model anyone can have here, Nick Ahmed, and I know how hard he worked and I try to set an example on the field, off the field, in the weight room, in class."
Verdi admits to being disappointed at not being drafted after his junior year, but he also took mental notes watching Mazzilli, who stayed for his senior season and improved his draft stock, taken by the Mets in the fourth round.
"I saw how hard he worked his senior year," Verdi said, "I'm going to play angry, play with a chip on my shoulder. It's still my dream, to play pro baseball."
Players ran the 60-yard dash for scouts Thursday. Scouts watched pitchers throw, and stood close behind the cage as hitters swung away. The Huskies have 45 days to practice and play intrasquad scrimmages, the fall season wrapping up Oct. 6. On Sept. 22, former UConn players will be up for the alumni game.
"The dream is very real," Hill said. "I'm proud to be from Connecticut — a lot of talent comes out of here."