RINDGE, N.H. (December 2, 2010) – The Franklin Pierce University baseball team spent only five days and four nights in the Dominican Republic over the recent holiday weekend, but the team returned home with enough memories to last a lifetime.
“I am sure the experiences from this trip will be something that will stay with everyone for a long time,” said Head Coach Jayson King. “The perspective that everyone gained on this trip as a result of our experiences surely changed how we see things in our lives.”
While in the Dominican Republic, the Ravens played four games against prospect academies affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. In addition, the team took on a team of semi-professional players from Cuba. Franklin Pierce finished 2-3 on the trip with wins over the affiliates of the Orioles and the Twins.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Ryan Thompson (Fort McMurray, Alberta) and junior right-hander T.J. Ferguson (Westmoreland, N.H.) picked up the wins for the Ravens. Thompson started and tossed six shutout innings while allowing only two hits and striking out five without issuing a walk against the Orioles. Ferguson got the win out of the bullpen against the Twins, as he struck out three, walked two and allowed three hits over four shutout innings. Later in the week, he would toss a pair of shutout innings out of the bullpen against the Red Sox.
Elsewhere during the trip, sophomore right-hander Joe Flynn (Plymouth, Mass.) and junior left-hander Greg Downing (Howard Beach, N.Y.) each struck out five over five innings of work, while senior right-hander Rob Nicholas (Northboro, Mass.) picked up a save against the Orioles with three strikeouts over 1.2 scoreless, hitless innings.
Freshman catcher Steve Swingle (Munsonville, N.H.) had perhaps the most explosive offensive showing of the week for the Ravens, as he went 3-for-9, including a two-run home run in the first inning against the Twins. He added a double and scored twice on the trip. Junior first baseman Isaac Wenrich (Westlawn, Pa.) hit 3-for-10 on the trip, drew three walks and scored three times. He was also among the most outgoing and engaging Ravens in his relations with the Dominican ballplayers, as he was named the winner of the trip’s Diplomat Award.
“From a baseball perspective, this trip was exactly what we wanted,” said King. “I could see our team come together nicely both on and off the diamond. It was great to see the passion that the people from the Dominican have towards baseball as well.”
Among the things that will stick with many of the Ravens is the eye-opening experience of being immersed in a culture much different from anything most of the team has ever seen.
“I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect; you can read things about how they live and you know their poor,” said senior designated hitter Derek Ingui (Sterling, Mass.). “But actually getting down there and seeing what they’re all about, it was really an amazing experience.”
Coach King added that it would help his players take a different look at everything they have back home: “Hopefully what we saw on this trip will make us all very thankful for the many blessings that we have.”
On the final day in the Dominican Republic, the team ran a baseball clinic for local kids in the town of Boca Chica. For King, it was one of the more amazing experiences of the trip.
“It was great to get to work with the young baseball players in that country; they have a passion for the sport of baseball which is great to see,” said King. “It was a very rewarding day for all that participated. Hopefully our time and equipment donation can make a difference to some of the kids there.”
The Dominican Republic is one of the most successful baseball nations in the world, putting more players per capita in Major League Baseball than any other country. In addition to each MLB organization having an affiliate program in the Dominican, the highest level of baseball in the country is the Dominican Winter League, which features six teams composed of Major League players honing their skills in the off-season over a 60-game schedule. Franklin Pierce will attend a Dominican Winter League game as part of the trip.
The Ravens are coming off a 43-17-1 campaign in 2010 which saw the program capture its fifth NCAA Regional title in program history (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008), as well as the fourth in five seasons. Franklin Pierce went on to win two games at the NCAA Championship National Finals and finished as a national semifinalist for the third time in school history (2003, 2006).