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GROTON, CONNâThe Ocean State Wavesâ players proved this season that those who make the biggest difference are the ones on the field.
Ignoring the uncertainty that emerged with the unexpected termination of manager Phil Davidson 30 games into the season would be like ignoring the elephant in the room.
Rian McCarthy â who managed the team for the remainder of the season â and his staff did an admirable job afterwards but to suddenly lose the leader of a team midway through your first season of existence could understandably be unnerving for 19 to 22-year old adults.
But the Waves endured.
The production of the players on the field proved just that as they battled for the remainder of the regular season and locked up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Division Playoffs, no small feat competing against established teams in the ultra competitive New England Collegiate Baseball League.
While the players deserve most of the credit for the Waves successful first season, some of it must also go to Ocean State General Manager Matt Finlayson.
Most rosters in the NECBL for the following season are set by the end of August, aside from a little bit of tweaking here and there.
Last August the Ocean State Waves didnât even exist.
It was not until December 15th that Finlayson began putting the roster together and by that point most of the league â meaning players he could have potentially signed to play for the Waves â was set.
âWe got accepted [to the league] late so it was a lot of phone calls, looking at a lot of different leagues and how guys competed with wooden bats the previous year,â Finlayson said. âYou just do your homework and due diligence and try to put together a roster that makes sense from a summer ball standpoint.
âWhat that means is you have to compete in 44 games and 50 days, so you need a lot pitching, and you need depth on your roster that will allow you to compete, battle injuries, guys leave early and all that. Thereâs a lot of variables involved.â
This meant Finlayson had to get creative and no player embodied that ingenuity better than starting shortstop Christian Muscarello.
âThe classic example is Christian Muscarello,â Finlayson said. âHeâs a very good middle infielder but heâs from a Division III school and he ended up doing a great job for us.â
The NECBL is filled with talented players, most competing in Division I, but the Tuscon, Arizona product plays for D-III Trinity University collegiately.
This summer Muscarello was named to the NECBL All-Star game, hitting .316 on the season in 42 games with nine doubles and 17 RBI.
Finlayson and owner Jeff Sweenor still have plenty of work ahead of them if they hope to make the Ocean State Waves a mainstay in the NECBL, but it shouldnât be impossible if they keep finding players like Christian Muscarello.