Around The Horn With Crusader Baseball
This is a blog featuring entries from Holy Cross baseball student-athletes who are competing in summer leagues across the country. Check back every week throughout the summer for the latest updates from the Crusaders to hear about their experiences!
Click below to jump to a previous entry!
Inning Nine - Ethan Dyer, Colton Hector and Riley Livingston
Inning Eight - Thomas Russo
Inning Seven - Alex Volpi
Inning Six - Pat McGowan
Inning Five - Austin Masel
Inning Four - Danny Barlok
Inning Three - Jared Enders
Inning Two - Declan Cronin and Ben White
Inning One - Cam O'Neil
Extra Innings - August 25, 2017
Crusaders in the Pros
Mike Ahmed - Tulsa Drillers (Texas League)
The 2017 season has been a unique season for me so far. In the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to start at the Dodgers AA affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers. In the middle of April, I was called up to the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers for a couple weeks. Not only was this the first mid-season call up of my career, but this meant I have now played at every level in the minor leagues-from rookie ball through AAA. After returning to Tulsa, I enjoyed a strong month of May before straining my oblique. Since then, I have been rehabbing in Tulsa and at our spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona. The Dodgers have been very supportive of me during this time, and I am looking to come back stronger than ever in 2018.
Nick Lovullo - Salem Red Sox (Carolina League)
It has been a pretty eventful first full-season for me with the Red Sox. I have played for 3 teams in our system thus far, starting in Low-A Greenville, then onto High-A Salem, and even spending a week in AA Portland in-between. We were fortunate to have won the first-half division championship while in Greenville, which called for an awesome celebration! My week spent in Portland was a great experience, as I had some success playing with the Sea Dogs and got to catch up with friends in the New England area (including Coach DiCenzo), which is always a great time. Currently, I am playing for the Salem Red Sox and we are closing in on the end of the regular season. We are leading the second half playoff race, so hopefully we can clinch this half by the beginning of September and qualify for the playoffs. Overall, I couldn't be happier with how my first full professional season has gone. I am learning new things about the game and about myself as a player each and every day. I look forward to continue working hard and to keep getting better until our season is over. I then plan to carry on that momentum into the off-season and through the 2018 season.
Brendan King - AZL Cubs (Arizona League)
A few days after the draft, I flew out to Mesa, Ariz. to take my physical and sign my contract at the Cubs' spring training facility. After signing, I was assigned to play for the Arizona League Cubs. Our team plays its home games in Sloan Park, the Cubs' spring training stadium, and our schedule consists of playing other Arizona based teams at their spring training facilities. We usually leave for the field at 1:00 p.m.; then stretch, run, throw, have a short practice and sometimes lift before the game starts at 7:00 p.m. Professional baseball has also given me an opportunity to brush up on my Spanish and try to communicate with guys from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and other places. So far this experience has been a dream come true, and I look forward to continuing my career with the Cubs.
George Capen - AZL Mariners (Arizona League)
Prior to receiving a call and contract offer from the Seattle Mariners in late July, I began the summer coaching for the Ocean State Waves in the NECBL. While coaching was a great experience, I was eager to continue my playing career at the next level. I flew to Peoria, Ariz. shortly after hearing from the Mariners, and I signed a contract upon completing my medical requirements. I am currently playing on the Mariners' rookie ball club in the Arizona League. We show up to the complex every day at 12:30 p.m. to eat lunch and hold our pitchers' meeting. After that, we go through our throwing program and conditioning before a light team practice and batting. One of the cool things about the AZL is that we play most of our games in the spring training stadiums for the various teams in the league. I could not be more excited to be a part of the Mariners organization and continue playing for as long as I can.
Sean Gustin / Donny Murray - Utica Unicorns (United Shore Professional Baseball League)
Our second season in the USPBL has been another great experience. Our team started off hot this season, and we both had a lot of success on the mound. In addition to the games, our season also consists of an extensive pitching development program. Throughout the season, we have 8:00 a.m. workouts most days, where we receive hands-on coaching from the pitching instructors. Almost all of our game outings are videotaped, enabling us to receive analysis of our in-game mechanics. Ultimately both of us have the same goal of signing with an MLB organization this season. With a month left, we're both aiming to continue putting up great numbers and hope that we receive that opportunity soon. We are both grateful to Holy Cross and the baseball program for putting us in place to take advantage of opportunities in professional baseball. We're looking forward to seeing everyone back on the Hill for Alumni Weekend.
Anthony Critelli - Southern Illinois Miners (Frontier League)
This season being a part of the Southern Illinois Miners has been a great experience. I have met a fantastic group of talented guys that come from all different places. The coaching staff has also been very fun to play for and they have made this summer extremely enjoyable. We play games all over the Midwest and I have been able to see and explore a new part of the country. Our home field is a beautiful stadium in Marion, Ill., and we have great fan support for home games. We have a few more weeks left of the season and hope to finish up strong.
Inning Nine - August 16, 2017
Ethan Dyer, Colton Hector and Riley Livingston
Dyer (Juno Beach Loggerheads - Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches)
This summer I am playing with the Loggerheads in the CLPB. We play our games at the Astros and Nationals spring training facility, which is a short drive from my apartment complex in West Palm Beach, Fla. The league is partnered with Cressey Sports Performance in Jupiter, so that's where my teammates and I are doing our training for the summer. At this point, it's shaping up to be the best summer of my life. Stiff competition and a world class training facility/staff was what I hoped to see, and it's what I’ve experienced. Aside from personal development, we have a great group of guys and are currently in first place with a four game lead.
On a typical game day I wake up at 6:30 a.m., make breakfast, and head over to the complex at 7:00 p.m. for an 8:30 p.m. game time. After I come out of the game I make the 30 minute drive to CSP to train. Most afternoons are open for the beach or just relaxing. We play five games a week, and try to get to Cressey four or five times a week.
My time here has flown by, and I can't wait to finish up the summer on a strong note. Then it's back to Worcester to defend the Patriot League Championship!
Hector and Livingston (South Bay Sparrows - California Sunset Baseball League)
This summer, we played for the South Bay Sparrows in the California Sunset Baseball League. Luckily for the both of us, we had the privilege to come home for the summer. Playing together on the same team definitely made the experience more enjoyable and competitive. Our schedule consisted of 35 games played throughout Southern California. We played some games in San Diego and Palm Springs, which were the coolest (not literally) road trips. Game time temperature in Palm Springs was 118 degrees!
Our home field was located about an hour away from the both of us. Home games usually started at 4:30 in the afternoon, which required that we beat the infamous Los Angeles traffic and arrive at the field by 2:30 p.m. for batting practice. Having games late in the afternoon allowed us to lift and hit in the morning, so we could work on improving our skills as the summer progressed.
After our NCAA tournament run concluded in Corvallis, Oregon in June, we made it back to Southern California just in time for our first game of the summer season. The Sparrows got off to a slow start, but as we played more games our team chemistry began to improve. Half way through the season, we were in the hunt for the playoffs, a goal that we set as a team being in its inaugural season in the Sunset League. Most of our opponents were strong teams with players from some big-time Division 1 schools, such as Cal State Fullerton, Southern California and Ohio State. Unfortunately, we slumped towards the end of the season and didn’t make the playoffs.
Overall, playing for the Sparrows was a great experience. Not only did we get to play at home and on the same team, but also with a cool group of guys and good ball players. We both look forward to returning to Worcester in a couple of weeks and putting the work in to compete for another Patriot League Championship!
Inning Eight - August 9, 2017
Thomas Russo (Hyannis Harbor Hawks - Cape Cod Baseball League)
I started my summer playing with the Lexington Blue Sox for my second season. It was great to reconnect with some of my teammates from last season, especially after winning the Intercity League Championship last summer. It is an honor to play for Coach Rick DeAngelis (Holy Cross Baseball Class of 1970), who not only brings his great insight into both baseball and life to each and every game, but is also one of the most steadfast and proud supporters of the Crusaders every single season. We came out with a lot of confidence coming off a championship season, but it took us a few games to get into a winning rhythm. From the start of the season, I was very happy with my performance at the plate as well as in the field. I was fortunate enough to make the All-Star team with my former Crusader teammate and roommate Alex Voitik.
Following the All-Star break, I was lucky enough to be picked up by the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL). As a former batboy for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, including the 2006 CCBL Championship team, playing in the CCBL is truly a dream come true for me. It has been great to play in an environment where the level of play and competition is so high and I have loved getting to know all of my teammates. The atmosphere is second to none and it is amazing to be a part of such a long-standing summer tradition for so many Cape Cod families. While I have only been here for a few weeks, I have gotten some good playing time at first base and second base; and I have been able to face Cam O’Neill’s Falmouth Commodores three times since arriving. Even though the Harbor Hawks narrowly missed making the playoffs this summer, I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it will always be one of my most unforgettable summers. I am itching to get back to Fitton Field for my last season at Holy Cross in hopes of bringing another Patriot League Championship back to The Hill.
Inning Seven - August 1, 2017
Alex Volpi (Newburgh Sox - Hudson Valley Collegiate Baseball League)
This summer I am playing with the Newburgh Sox in the Hudson Valley Collegiate Baseball League (HVCBL). The city of Newburgh is located in New York on the Hudson River about 90 miles north of New York City. Like a couple of my teammates at Holy Cross, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live at home this summer, as our home field at Mount Saint Mary College is only a 40 minute drive from where I live. This has allowed me to help coach a travel team from my area as well as work in the mornings before games and practices. Being a local guy is great as I have been able to play with and against numerous old teammates from the Hudson Valley area who are also playing college baseball.
After a very rough start to the season in which we won only two of our first twelve games, we made a very strong comeback as a team getting to just above .500 for the regular season. This was good enough to earn us the last spot in the playoffs, surprising many of the other teams in the league. It has been an awesome experience playing with such hard-working and dedicated guys who refused to give up on the season after having a poor start. Despite not having huge crowds at our games, the team always comes ready to play with lots of energy, creating a great environment to work on our skills and win ball games. We have advanced to the semifinals, which we hope to win so that the Sox can defend their title and repeat as HVCBL champions.
Overall, playing for the Newburgh Sox has been a great experience. The coaches and players have made it a fantastic summer, as we have learned from one another and worked towards winning a championship. Although the summer has been great, I can’t wait to get back to school to help Holy Cross defend the Patriot League title.
Inning Six - July 26, 2017
Pat McGowan (Ocean State Waves - New England Collegiate Baseball League)
After returning home from our historic run in the NCAA Tournament, which took us all the way out to Corvallis, Ore. for the Oregon State Regional, I shipped out to Narragansett, R.I. to play this summer with the Ocean State Waves in the NECBL. Our summer season consists of 44 games in approximately two months that are played between Danbury, Conn. and Montpelier, Vt. My host family is based out of Westerly, R.I. which is about 30 minutes from our home field, and they have been amazing so far by providing me with a beautiful home to stay in and giving me unbelievable food.
The Waves organization and my teammates have been tremendous all summer as we instantly gelled as a unit and started the season on a roll which led to us eventually getting the spot as the No. 1 team in the country on July 14. We have a lot of players from northeast colleges and universities such as Stony Brook, Hofstra and Rhode Island; but I am also playing with players from schools far away such as Southern Miss., Stetson and Trinity College. I have worked mostly out of the bullpen this summer in long relief, which has forced me to be ready to pitch on any given day and go multiple innings at a time.
A typical day for me starts around 10:00 a.m. where I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and leave for the gym. After I work out, I will grab lunch with some of the guys on the team before heading to the field or the bus for an away game. We usually arrive at the field for home games around 3:30 p.m., but some of our bus trips require us to leave as early as 12:00 p.m.
Former Holy Cross and Ocean State Waves pitcher, George Capen, has joined the team this summer for his third season with the Waves. George is pursuing a career in coaching and has thoroughly enjoyed his first summer of being a collegiate-level coach. His main responsibilities are constructing the lineup every day, throwing pre-game batting practice and working closely with the pitchers. It has been awesome to have George around this summer to show me the ins-and-outs of summer ball in Narragansett.
Inning Five - July 18, 2017
Austin Masel (North Shore Navigators - Futures Collegiate Baseball League)
This summer I began playing for the Pittsfield Suns in the FCBL, but due to the roster size, I was able to get a spot with the North Shore Navigators. Being a part of the Navs has been a great experience even though I've only been able to play one game with the team. Unfortunately, I've been hurt the last three weeks of the summer. However, being at the field in front of about 1000 to 2000 fans a night creates a great atmosphere to play baseball. Even though I'm not on the field, I enjoy coming down to the games every night. Typically, we arrive at the field at 4:00 for batting practice and play at 7:00 at home. Lynn is about 30 minutes to an hour away from almost every field, so the bus rides are great. Our team is currently three games back from .500 leaving room for a playoff push at the end of the season, in which I’ll take part.
Since I was able to switch teams, I've been able to live at home which is 15 minutes from Lynn, Mass. where the Navs play. Living in the north shore is awesome because you have Boston 15 minutes away from the park while having beaches up and down the coast and some even in Lynn. The guys on the team are great and create a relaxing atmosphere to play and have fun, while improving our skills. Being able to live at home has been terrific because I've been able to spend time with friends that I haven't seen since January. Overall being a part of the Navs has been a great experience and I can't wait to get back on the field and compete.
Inning Four - July 12, 2017
Danny Barlok (Keene Swamp Bats - New England Collegiate Baseball League)
This summer I am playing with the Keene Swamp Bats in the NECBL. Keene is a small town located in New Hampshire, about an hour and a half from my house and Holy Cross. So far, my experience here has been awesome. Although I arrived a few days late due to our playoff push, I still have been fortunate enough to meet a great group of guys who come from all across the country. Being part of a great organization and a great league has been a blast for me so far this summer.
At this point in the summer, we are just about halfway through our season. My team is around .500 and in a good position to make a playoff run in the remaining games. We play our games at Alumni Field at Keene High School which, luckily for me, is only a few minutes down the road from my host house. Typically for a home game we report around 3:45, but for away games we meet the bus much earlier depending on how far the drive is. A typical week consists of about six games and one off day. I have been fortunate to find a job that I work in the mornings a few times a week before I head to the gym and eat before reporting to the field. The majority of our games begin at 6:30, and continue into the night. Being able to play under the lights everyday has made for a fun and competitive atmosphere. The fans in Keene are extremely loyal, and we usually get around 1,000 each game. During our July 3 game we had nearly 5,000 people come and support us. Being able to play in such a great spot with such a great atmosphere has made this summer unforgettable.
The season has flown by so far, and has been a great learning and growing experience for me. I look forward to finishing up the season here and returning back to Holy Cross ready to defend our Patriot League title.
Inning Three - July 5, 2017
Jared Enders (Loudoun Riverdogs - Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League)
This summer I’m playing for the Loudoun Riverdogs in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. I am able to live at home which is a nice luxury to have during a demanding 40 game summer ball schedule, and it also allows me to work baseball camps in the mornings. Since I’m playing around the area I grew up, I am now playing against a lot of the guys I used to face in high school, along with some I used to play alongside, that are also playing college ball which is one of the cool parts of summer ball. The days can get long at times but playing with a bunch of awesome guys from states all along the east coast makes it a lot more enjoyable.
We have been playing well all season and are on pace to make the playoffs in our division of the league. Playing with a lot of kids from schools in conferences like the ACC and SEC makes winning every game tough, but as long as we keep playing like we have been then we’ll be in a good spot. Our coach is a big part in our success and has one of the highest baseball IQs that I have ever seen. He does a great job prepping us to play every day and makes sure we always stay loose so we play our best. I’m excited for the rest of the season and hope to help lead the ‘dogs to their first CRCBL title in a few years!
Inning Two - June 27, 2017
Declan Cronin and Ben White (Plymouth Pilgrims - New England Collegiate Baseball League)
Playing in Plymouth in the NECBL has been incredible so far. Even though we arrived a little bit after most of the other players because we were in Corvallis, we both realized quickly that Plymouth was going to be a great summer ball destination. Everything from the level of talent to the organization and our teammates makes playing for the Pilgrims great.
Enjoying his second summer ball stint in Plymouth, Ben has naturally filled his starting role in the rotation well. As a returning player; he is the team veteran, a reliable arm and a father-figure to the squad. Although I did not initially believe him, I can now confirm that he is in fact “the man in Plymouth.” Ben, along with a catcher from UNC, lives with a great host family around 15-20 minutes from the field.
While Ben has his spot in the starting rotation, I have found my place in the back end of the Pilgrims bullpen. I am extremely lucky to be with Ben this summer, as he knows the ins and outs of how to get the most out of a summer with the Plymouth Pilgrims. I do not, however, live in Plymouth. Instead, I live with another pitcher from Babson College in his family's Cape house in Bourne, right across the canal. We live a block from the beach, which makes the 40-45-minute trip to the gym and field every day worth it.
A typical day for us starts with getting up and making a hearty breakfast. Then we head to the gym to lift together before going back to his house to eat lunch, make protein shakes and relax before we head to the field. For home games, we don't report until 4:00 p.m. On the other hand, away game report times for the bus vary greatly due to the different distances we travel in the NECBL. For the short trip to New Bedford, we report at 3:30 p.m., but a trip up to Vermont calls for a 1:00 p.m. departure.
Although we have only been in Plymouth for a short time, it feels like we've been here much longer because of how close our team has become. So far, our season has consisted of five losses sandwiched by three and four-game winning streaks on either side. Summer ball is a marathon rather than a sprint, and we've learned early that keeping an even keel is essential. We certainly can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for the Pilgrims and both of us. While Ben will take this experience with him wherever he chooses to continue his baseball career, I eagerly await heading back to Worcester to begin preparing for the defense of our Patriot League Championship with the rest of the returning team.
Inning One - June 20, 2017
Cam O'Neill (Falmouth Commodores - Cape Cod Baseball League)
I am lucky enough to be able to start this summer playing for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Growing up in Massachusetts and coming to Cape League games as a kid has made being a member of the Commodores a dream come true. We have only played a few games thus far, but the atmosphere as well as the quality of baseball has been amazing. I've gotten some good playing time so far and I hope it continues during our run to a CCBL Championship.
With Brendan (King), Anthony (Critelli) , George (Capen) and Jon (Escobar) all solidifying Holy Cross as a legitimate baseball school with their performances here last summer, I hope to continue that as we move forward this season.
Since I've been here, I have been living with an awesome host family, the Lang's. The incredible families who are willing to take in players like us for the summer are truly what allows the league to succeed. Without them, the summer leagues probably would not exist. While some of my favorite memories have been made during summer ball, I am very excited to get back to school and begin preparation for my final season at Holy Cross.