With spring approaching, baseball season is ready to bloom.
Those cold practices will turn to league games and, hopefully, blossom into win-or-go-home tournament clashes. All of those moments will lay the groundwork for the summer, where some of the best local ball players team up with the Clark Haddad Post 188 American Legion baseball team.
There, the former league or border rivals have joined forces for years, bringing back three state titles and 14 district championships all while playing under the mantra of “a pride in our tradition, a tradition of excellence.”
Most recently, the summer ball program has enjoyed an abundance of success—winning back-to-back District 10 Senior titles and the junior team earning a trip to the New England regionals this summer. And while the hardware is nice to show off above the fireplace mantle, what head coach Brian Tomasini loves most is seeing his players advance to the next stage of their careers.
Currently the Post 188 program—comprised of players from Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee and Martha’s Vineyard—boasts 20 players in the college ranks.
“I think it really speaks to the schools these guys have come from,” Tomasini said. “And, of course, their coaches and families, but what a great job they all do. We’re lucky to have these kids and give them a piece here and there and send them off to college and see them do well.”
Falmouth alum Nick Couhig is a right-handed pitcher in his redshirt sophomore season with Boston College, a Division I program. Joseph Oriola, a junior righty from St. John Paul II, is looking to follow up a sophomore season with Endicott, a Division III program, where he had a 2.25 ERA.
In Paxton, the Anna Maria AmCats feature a quartet of 188 alums—Sandwich alum Noah Holland, UCT alum Jason Shell, SJPII closer Joe Dorman and Bourne catcher Alex Sorenti-Burns. Holland, a senior captain who enjoyed a stint with the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape League last summer, has already collected four hits and driven in five in three games this season.
Just over the bridge in Buzzards Bay, another quartet of Post 188 alums take the field for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy squad. Falmouth’s Chris Perito and Sandwich’s John Tropea, Zach Landry and Josh Kutcher will call Hendy Field home this spring as freshmen.
Sophomore right-hander Matt Liebkemann, a Falmouth alum, takes the mound for NCAA Division II’s American International College. Staying in western Massachusetts, left-handed pitcher and center fielder Ben Smith, a Bourne alum, will play for Worcester State University this spring. His former Canalmen teammate, shortstop Nick Carlow, is entering his second season with Dean College. Another former Canalmen standout, Tyler Rondeau, is about to embark on his junior campaign as a third baseman and shortstop for Bridgewater State University. Falmouth junior Mike Couhig, a first baseman and pitcher with the Curry College Colonels, is in his final collegiate season.
Out-of-state collegiate players include Eric Del Rosso, an East Sandwich native and SJPII alum who is a two-way player at Kenyon College in Ohio. His former Lions’ teammates, Keith and Cole Campbell, star on the diamond for Catholic University in Washington DC. And, in New Hampshire, freshmen Drew Boli and Tyler Wudyka begin their collegiate careers with NCAA Division II’s Saint Anselm’s College. Boli starred with the Commodores before playing at Bridgton Academy for a postgraduate year while Wudyka was a team captain with the Blue Knights.
Other notable alumni including Luke Chevalier, who graduated from Northern State and starred for the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape League. He is now in the Colorado Rockies organization. John Stanton, a recent graduate of South New Hampshire University, also received a temporary contract to play in the Cape League recently, joining up with the Harwich Mariners. And, perhaps most notably, former 188 and Falmouth pitcher Steve Cishek signed a new contract as a reliever with the Chicago White Sox.
The MLB righty expressed how influential his time with Post 188 was in his career, saying on Twitter recently that the summer ball organization was “huge on teaching me a lot about myself and the game of baseball” before stamping his short message the program’s mantra.
“Pride in our tradition, a tradition of excellence,” he wrote.
Looking ahead to next season, St. John Paul II senior Aaron Cole has already committed to play collegiately with Western New England. Zach Rogers, a Mashpee senior, also recently verbally committed to American International College.
Registration is still open for the summer season through April with the senior team accepting 18 players and the junior squad taking another 18. Registration forms can be found on the program’s Twitter page, @Post188Baseball.