SOUTHINGTON - For Ruffino Santiago thereâ€™s nothing quite like baseball.
â€śI love to compete,â€ť the New Britain junior said.
Monday afternoon, it took the Hurricanes an extra inning to hold off Southington in what became a back-and-forth game late. But it was Santiago who helped put them in position to get the win. The New Britain starter went 6.1 innings and threw 101 pitches.
â€śFino is a gutsy guy man,â€ť New Britain head coach Roberto Mercado said. â€śThere was a couple innings he was a little shaky and didnâ€™t have his command. But then he had a couple innings and he was on point with everything. Once he becomes consistent and gets some better shape heâ€™ll be successful. He gave us a quality start and gave us a chance to win.â€ť
Santiago is the Hurricanes No. 2 starting pitcher, right behind William Homar.
â€śHomar is our No. 1 and Ruffino knows that and embraces that role,â€ť Mercado said. â€śHe knows when itâ€™s game 2, heâ€™s our guy. I have a lot of confidence in both of them. As long as they continue working hard, which I know they will, theyâ€™ll continue to improve.â€ť
Teammate Guillermo Burgos believes one of the reasons New Britain has been so successful in its three-game hot streak is because of the players on the mound.
â€śWe have great pitching,â€ť Burgos said. â€śLast game Will threw a no-hitter and Fino came in [Monday], he gave up five [runs] but not all of those were earned. [We have] Ggeat pitching and communication and thatâ€™s what it really comes down to.â€ť
Santiago has been playing baseball ever since he could remember. At the age of 4, his grandmother got him into the game.
His grandmother is one of his biggest supporters.
â€śMy parents are very supportive and they know I love the game, especially my grandmother,â€ť Santiago said. â€śShe always talks to me after my games and gives me advice. My grandmother has always been my No. 1.â€ť
A lot of people have helped Santiago get to where he is today. Besides the constant love and support from his family, Frankie Adorno, father of Justin Adorno, has also been there for Santiago. Adorno had been coaching Santiago since he was in little league.
Santiago fell in love with the game early. For him it's fun. It keeps him doing the right thing and takes his mind off of negative things.
â€śI feel nervous at times when I take the mound,â€ť Santiago said. â€śBut I love to compete and itâ€™s good knowing I have my teammates and coaches that have my back.â€ť
During tense situations, Santiago looks towards his teammates, especially Homar and Danniel Rivera.
â€śMy teammates, especially, help me calm down,â€ť Santiago said. â€śI also close my eyes and take a deep breath to slow everything down. But being on the mound is my favorite part. I love doing my part to help my team win ball games, thatâ€™s the Hurricane Way.â€ť
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org