NEW BRITAIN - For Ryan Hyde, there was a routine to it. After saying a few words, he trotted back to home plate, put on his catcher’s mask and got set for the first pitch.
The Berlin native made it a point to go out to the mound every time there was a pitching change throughout the game Thursday morning. With each pitcher only getting a certain amount of throws during the American Legion Rawlings Futures Showcase, gauging how each was doing was important, especially with all the extra attention coming from the stands.
“I just wanted to do everything in my power to make sure they looked good,” Hyde said. “It’s always my job to make sure they’re throwing well throughout the game and that’s what I wanted to do today for them in front of the scouts.”
There were plenty in attendance with Central Connecticut State, UConn, Nichols College and Eastern and Western Connecticut States were among the schools present. A scout for the Cincinnati Reds was also there.
“It’s great exposure, getting in front of these college coaches,” said Alec Diloreto, who plays on the Bristol Legion team and for Bristol Central during the school year. “There’s some nerves at first, but after you start playing and see everybody, you just treat it like a normal game.”
“It’s exciting,” Hyde said of having the scouts at the game. “It puts an edge on us and makes us want to show them our best skills. I’m happy to be here.”
In all, there were six local players participating in the game. Diloreto and Ethan Ryan represented Bristol. Alec Karal was from Plainville. Hyde and Fanelli represented Berlin, with Michael Sobolewski from Newington.
Hyde, Fanelli and Sobolewski suited up for Team Navy, while Diloreto, Ryan and Karal played for Team Red, which used a late rally to win 7-3.
Defensively, Diloreto, Ryan and Karal pitched for Team Red with Diloreto and Ryan also playing center fielder and shortstop respectively. Hyde, Fanelli and Sobolewski, pitched as well with Fanelli playing center field as Sobolewski lining up at shortstop.
But for many of the players, the score was secondary to the experience of the game itself. Players had the opportunity of not only facing different opponents then they had throughout the summer, but also got the chance to play alongside a number of different players as well.
“You’re competing against guys on the weekends and during the weekdays in some cases throughout the summer, but you never really get to interact with them and have that connection and be on the same team and in the same dugout,” Sobolewski said. “I think it’s great because you bring together so many different types of personalities and atmospheres and so many types of players. They bring so much more to each other’s game and it really complements each other. Throughout the game, you get more personable and it turns into a mini-friendship.”
It was also an opportunity for the players to work on some of their own skill sets, whether it was pitching, hitting or fielding. Few came away completely satisfied with how they played and acknowledged afterward there was still room for improvement this summer alone.
“[The game’s] against some of the best underclassmen in the state so I thought I did OK,” Fanelli said. “I could have probably hit better and didn’t really get too much in the outfield. But using wooden bats is always different. It changes your depth in the field and players won’t hit the ball as far as compared to metal.”
Said Diloreto, “I wish I could have hit a little better, but I thought my pitching was good. I was able to throw strikes and let the defense take care of it. I just have to be more consistent at the plate.”
In the end, though, it was an experience none of the local players will forget anytime soon.
“To play against guys from Torrington, Simsbury, all over Connecticut, it was really cool,” Sobolweski said. “I haven’t had that experience before.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org