Wilken, Santucci Bolster Mariners After Team USA Tryout

By: Brendan Samson

Topics: Cape Cod Baseball League , Harwich Mariners

Left-handed pitcher Jonathan Santucci (Duke) was named the Player of the Game by his teammates after making his first appearance for the Mariners since rejoining the team after trying out for the Team USA Collegiate National Team. BRENDAN SAMSON PHOTO

HARWICH – The Harwich Mariners saw seven players leave the team to try out for the Team USA Collegiate National Team two weeks ago.

University of Virginia catcher Kyle Teel was the only player of the seven to make the national team, while two other players, third baseman Brock Wilken and left-handed pitcher Jonathan Santucci, recently rejoined the Mariners.

Both said the tryouts were an enjoyable experience and added that they were thrilled to compete with such highly skilled players.

“It was just awesome getting to share the field with the best 52 players in the country,” said Santucci, a Leominster native and sophomore at Duke. “You get to hear all year about all these players and all the accomplishments they do and then you get to play on the same field as them and see what you've got, so it was awesome, and getting to wear the uniform every day, it was a blast.”

The pair returned to the field this past week. Wilken, a junior at Wake Forest and the Cape League’s reigning MVP, was back in the lineup on July 6, while Santucci made his first start Sunday since returning.

Both have been key contributors since returning. Wilken has gone 4 for 17 with two home runs, six walks, three RBIs and four runs scored, and Santucci threw five innings of one-run ball while striking out six during Sunday’s 4-3 win over Brewster.

Harwich manager Steve Englert said he can already see the difference they have made since returning.

“[It’s] a huge boost for us,” Englert said. “Brock’s a middle of the lineup guy and Tucc [Santucci] is one of our mainstays out of the rotation, so having them both back is huge. [Santucci] pitched great, first time back and [threw] 81 pitches. [He was] extremely efficient and his tempo was tremendous and kept them off balance. He had a great outing.”

Santucci even received the team’s Player of the Game award after his performance. The honor comes in the form of a chain with a Cadillac emblem on it.

“I started doing that several years ago, as just something to get the fellas engaged,” Englert said. “I drive a Cadillac, so I said, I'm going to get a chain. I actually stole the idea from the Bruins when they used to hand out things after the game to players.”

The way the chain works is Englert chooses the first recipient and then for the rest of the season the player who received the chain in the previous game chooses who to give it to.

Santucci was quick to say he was happy to be back helping the team win after receiving his first chain of the summer.

Wilken shared the same sentiment.

“It's awesome,” Wilken said. “I love Stevie [Englert], love these guys, love my host family, couldn't have asked for anything better. I wanted to come back, if I made a team or if I didn't make the team. [Englert] was like ‘All right, I'll hold your spot.’ Big appreciation to him and the coaching staff for letting me come back.”

The pair hope to continue their early success now that they are back with the Mariners, but they are also happy to have had the opportunity to compete for a spot on Team USA.

“Not a lot of people get to put on that uniform, so getting dressed in the mirror was pretty sick, pretty surreal,” Wilken said. “Didn't end the way I wanted it to, but everything happens for a reason and glad to be back up here.”