PITTSFIELD -- The 2014 Pittsfield Suns are on their way to town, and a familiar face will be playing for them.
The players will meet with general manager Kevin McGuire and manager Tom Conley this afternoon, find their host families for the summer, and get ready to start playing baseball.
The newest Sun might be one of the youngest. Pitcher Jordan Barbarotta, who graduated from Taconic two years ago and just finished a post-graduate year at Blair Academy in New Jersey will be a member of Conley’s pitching staff.
"We’re real happy to have him on board," said Suns general manager Kevin McGuire. "He’ll be going to UMass-Amherst in the fall. It’s a great signing for us, keeping it local and helping us build a baseball tradition in Pittsfield."
Barbarotta was on the hill for the New Jersey Prep A state championship game, and he struck out 17 in 10 innings in a 3-1 win over Lawrenceville (N.J.). In his preceding start, the right-hander from Pittsfield struck out five and tossed a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Morris Catholic in New Jersey.
Practices will take place Monday and Tuesday, with the team opening play Wednesday night at Wachusett. The home opener is Friday night against Torrington.
"The roster looks great," Suns general manager Kevin McGuire said. "We feel really good about where we are roster-wise."
The 2014 Suns consist of players from 17 different Division I teams, one Division II program and two D-III squads. The Ivy League is well represented as six players on the Pittsfield roster are Ivy Leaguers.
Among the returners are outfielder Gary Tesch of Penn, catcher Derek Gardella of Rhode Island, outfielder Luke Reynolds of UMass-Lowell, catcher Steve Dill of Harvard, and first baseman Brenden Geary of Maine. Geary is the grandson of the late Paul Dowd, the former Red Sox farmhand and Pittsfield city councilor.
"Every year, we keep chipping away and chipping away. I think it will be a noticeable change for how much better the play is this year," said McGuire.
Five members of the Suns will be late arriving in Pittsfield, as their teams are in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.
Bryant shortstop Dan Cellucci went 2 for 4 on Friday in Bryant’s first-round loss to American Athletic Conference champion Houston. Bryant’s upset bid came up short in a 10-inning, 3-2 defeat. Catcher Dan Palazzo and pitcher Mike Marshall are also with the Bulldogs.
Ivy League champion Columbia lost its first tournament game as well, a 3-2 decision to Texas Tech. Freshmen pitchers Kyle Bartleman and Ty Weist are with Columbia in the Miami regional.
"It’s a great thing for us" to have those five in the NCAA Tournament, McGuire said. "As good as it is for us, it’s better for them. To be able to experience playing at the highest level against the best competition, they’re going to come in having seen the best guys in the country.
"It really gets them geared up and ready to roll."
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