HARWICH — The Harwich Mariners’ record has hovered around .500 through the first couple weeks of the Cape League season, but the team hasn’t been entirely average.
Look no further than Harwich’s pitching staff, which has three hurlers with sub-2.00 earned run averages. Included in that group is Jonathan Santucci, a 6-foot-2 lefty from Duke who has been stellar so far.
Santucci, a native of Leominster, is one of seven Mariners who were recently invited to the training camp for the USA College National Team. It’s a well-deserved honor for Santucci, a Phillips Academy graduate who has struck out 10 batters and posted a 1.59 ERA in 11⅓ innings pitched for Harwich.
The Massachusetts native said he’s been pleased with his performance after making two starts and one relief appearance.
“The more I get out there, the more comfortable I feel about my pitches,” Santucci said. “I feel like it's paying off so far, building off of the college season I had.”
Santucci built a strong foundation during his freshman year at Duke this spring. He tallied 51 strikeouts and held a 4.17 ERA in 41 innings for the Blue Devils.
Harwich manager Steve Englert said Santucci has been a valuable addition to the pitching staff.
“He’s been great,” Englert said. “[He] fills up the zone, soft contact, works efficiently and gets it and goes, and he's done a great job.”
The lefty will fulfill a goal when he heads to Team USA camp next week.
“It's definitely a huge accomplishment and something I had my eyes on before this year and just super exciting and blessed to have that opportunity because not a lot of kids get to do that,” Santucci said. “You get to represent your country, so that's a pretty big deal and something I don't take for granted.”
While he will be heading to the tryouts as a pitcher, the opportunity is a testament to his talent on the diamond both on the mound and at the plate. He started one game for Harwich and showed off his two-way potential by going 1 for 4 with a double in the team’s 4-1 win over Falmouth on June 14.
“He's a great kid and he's gonna be a good one,” Englert said. “I think he's got a bright future and he's a two-way guy and his [batting practice] has been pretty good, pretty impressive. I think down the road, he has a shot to be a legitimate two-way kid.”
If all goes well at the USA tryout, Santucci will join the collegiate national team for another week in Haarlem, Netherlands, where they will play the likes of Japan, Italy, Cuba, the Netherlands and Curacao. If not, he will be right back playing for the Mariners, an experience he has enjoyed so far.
“I'm just really excited that I'm here and got to experience it because all you hear when you're growing up is ‘Go to the Cape league,’” Santucci said. “I get to play in front of kids and people that I know on an everyday basis. It’s not far away from home, so it’s just really cool to kind of play in front of, not necessarily a hometown crowd, but one of sorts.”
While competing for Team USA in the Netherlands may not replicate that sort of hometown crowd Harwich provides, it will give Santucci another memorable test as he continues his baseball journey. Despite losing him for at least a week, Englert understands the magnitude of the accomplishment.
“It’s tremendous when you get selected to go pitch down for Team USA,” Englert said. “There are thousands of kids in college baseball and only a few get selected for that. We have seven of them going, so it’s pretty impressive.”