Braves to Feature Nine New-England Educated Players

Braves to Feature Nine New England-Educated Players

Jacob Janower

The Cape Cod Baseball League is known for bringing in collegiate players from all over the country.

However, the New England area is particularly well-represented within the Bourne Braves roster this season. Specifically, four Braves play for the University of Connecticut, the most of any school.

Catcher Zac Susi and pitchers Ronnie Rossomando, Tim Cate, and P.J. Poulin make up the Huskies who will call Doran Park home this season. The four share a special bond that they plan on using to favorably depict the Husky baseball program while on the Cape this summer.

Rossomando is the only one of the four who is returning to the Braves for his second consecutive season.

As for why he chose to return, Rossomando says it was an easy decision.

“They treat me like family and I have great respect for Coach (Harvey) Shapiro and my host family,” he said. “I think they do it the right way and I think this is a great place to be a part of.”

Rossomando said the most important thing he learned from year one in the CCBL is to get ahead of hitters in the count, as they will frequently take advantage if you get behind as a pitcher.

He was a key member of the Huskies pitching staff, starting eight games, appearing in 17, and pitching to the tune of a 4.01 ERA.

The opportunity to play on the Cape was far too enticing for the right-hander to pass up.

“There are a select few who get to do it,” Rossomando said. “Being here last year, I respect how good these guys are and how much of an opportunity it is to be here. Every day is just a new learning experience and there is so much talent here it is unbelievable.”

His pitching counterparts, Cate and Poulin, have also made their mark and become mainstays as underclassmen within the Huskies’ pitching staff.

Cate said the early familiarity with a few of his teammates to start the season has set a strong standard in the dugout.

“Personally I think that we are all pretty nice guys,” Cate said. “It’s nice to have Susi, P.J., and Ronnie on the same team and it makes me feel pretty comfortable. I think we treat the guys pretty well so hopefully it will help the chemistry out hanging out with everybody.”

Poulin, on the other hand, hails from a unique situation in that he is commuting to Braves games from his home in Marion, Massachusetts.

Growing up, his family would host Wareham Gatemen players during the summer.

“I’ve lived here my whole life pretty much,” Poulin said. “I think a lot of people around here come out and support someone from around here. That’s the comfort level being from home and I think that would be the case for everybody.”

Tying all the Husky pitchers together is Susi, their frequent battery mate during the spring.

The rising junior already brings a lot of experience handling pitching staffs, and it is just an added bonus that he already has familiarity with a few of the pitchers.

“It was cool to come in the dugout on the first and a lot of guys were cracking jokes saying that we were the Huskies,” Susi said. “It’s cool to see some familiar faces and catch guys that I’ve caught the last two seasons at UConn. Looks like we’ve got a lot of great arms and I am going to try to help them out and make them look good as much as I’m going to try to make my guys look good.”

New England representation goes beyond just UConn

The six-state New England area is littered with a plethora of other collegiate baseball programs as well, four of which sent players to Bourne this season.

Ian Miller, who is entering his senior year, is Harvard’s ambassador. The right-handed pitcher was originally slated to play for the Harwich Mariners, but his deal fell through and he was able to use his connections to sign on with the Braves.

Originally hailing from Brooklyn but having played college baseball in Boston for the past three seasons, Miller intends to make the most of the added comfort level granted from playing in nearby Cape Cod. At the same time, he appreciates the geographical diversity of the players in the league, as the group of Braves is more than just concentrated in the Northeast.

“I know some of the similar faces from the area, but at the same time you’re facing a completely different crop of players,” Miller said. “I think that is a really exciting opportunity for all of us. We have guys from Georgia, California, from all over the place.”

Miller is joined on the pitching staff by a pair of Rhode Island Rams, including senior Nick Johnson.

Johnson briefly played for the Braves in 2016, but should have a more expanded role for this coming season.

A Worcester, Massachusetts native, Johnson grew up idolizing players in Cape Cod. Now, it’s all come full circle for him.

“This is top caliber baseball for a summer league,” he said. “Growing up this was always a goal of mine. Now that I am actually here, it means a lot to me.”

Another Ram that is expected to make an impact is Tyler Barss, who has served as a late inning reliever for URI since 2014. This past season, he became the Rams all-time saves leader.

Catcher Kevin Radziewicz comes to the Braves from Fairfield University in Connecticut. The junior has hit over .300 in each of the past two seasons for the Stags.

Boston College product Jake Alu is playing as close to school as anyone on the roster, so much so that he returned to visit his Eagles teammates at school a few days ago.

For Alu, it’s as much about portraying himself and his school in a positive light as it is about the experience of playing in the prestigious league.

“Representing yourself is a big thing we pride at BC and in this organization,” Alu said. “Just being a good kid and being a fun kid to be around.”

 

You can contact the author via email (jjanower@gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@JanowerJacob).

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