There is no question this past spring was a tough one for the UMass Lowell River Hawks baseball team. So much hope surrounds this team after making it to the championship game of the America East Baseball tournament in 2022. Then there was the preseason poll before the 2023 season got started which had the River Hawks picked to finish second in the league. All the hype did this team no good, they were never able to live up to it and struggled all spring long. There was one six-game winning streak where you thought maybe a corner had been turned. But the thinking was short-lived.
After the disappointment of the spring, several members of the team turned their attention to summer ball playing in different leagues across the country. The Futures League, the New England Collegiate Summer League, the Northwoods League, and the Cape Cod League were some of the destinations for the players. With the second half of summer ball underway, we thought we would take a look at how these players are doing with fall ball just weeks away.
We will start in the Futures League. The Brockton Rox have two members of the River Hawks. First is infielder Sean O’leary who did not play this spring for Lowell. However, he has gotten plenty of time with the Rox this summer. Overall, he is hitting .295 (13-for-44) with one HR and eight RBI. He has stolen seven bases as well. He has two multiple-hit games. Both took place in June and both were three-hit games. He has appeared in 14 games to date. O’Leary has been playing third base for Brockton. Andover, MA. native Scotty Brown has been in the Rox outfield this summer. He too did not see any time with the River Hawks this spring. Brown is hitting .227 (5-for-22) in nine games. He has one multiple-hit game this summer on July 8.
Cam Sime is a freshman out of Pittsfield, Ma. who is a right-handed pitcher who also did not see any time with the River Hawks this spring. He has appeared in five games for the Pittsfield Suns this summer with no record and a 9.39 ERA. He has thrown 7.2 IP, allowed 10 hits, nine runs, with eight earned. He has added five walks and four strikeouts. All of his runs have been given up in his last three outings.
In the New England Collegiate Summer League, Ryan Proto, who will be a graduate student for the River Hawks next spring, is playing in Rhode Island for the Newport Gulls this summer. Ryan has had a tough go of it for the Gulls as one of the three catchers on the team. He is hitting .088 (3-for-34) in 16 games. He has struck out 11 times in those 34 at-bats. One of his hits is a double. A lot will be asked of Proto in his final year with Lowell, both behind the plate and with the bat. Here’s hoping he figures things out before summer is out. A couple of pitchers who will be counted on next spring are throwing for the Samford Mainers. Sophomores Michael Sims and Jacob Jette are getting some innings in. The right-hander, Sims is having a tough summer so far for Samford. He has a 1-3 record with a 14.29 ERA, and 17 hits allowed in 11.1 IP. Teams are hitting .347 off of him and he has allowed 20 runs and 18 earned runs. He does have a save to his credit. He has only two appearances where he has not given up a run. Jette’s numbers are a little better. A 1-0 record with a 7.00 ERA. 13 hits allowed, nine walks, and five struck outs. Teams are hitting .342 vs. him. His last two outings have been better as he has not given up a run after allowing a run in four of his first five appearances. Brian Foley is having a good summer for the Vermont Mountaineers. An 0-1 record with a 3.95 ERA. 13.2 IP, 12 hits, eight K’s, and seven walks. Teams are hitting .231 against him. His last time out was his worst of the summer for Vermont allowing four runs, three earned on five hits, in 2.2 IP in a 9-8 loss to Upper Valley on July 13.
The Northwoods League is the oldest summer league for college players to play in. River Hawks 3B Brandon Fish is with the Waterloo Bucks. The junior has been playing the hot corner a lot this summer appearing in 43 games and hitting .249 (42-for-169). He has 39 RBI hitting out of the two-spot for the Bucks with 10 doubles, and 31 runs scored. He has shown some speed at the top of the order with 11 stolen bases and being caught only three times. At third base, he has a .971 fielding percentage with four errors in 139 total chances. He has helped turn 15 double plays with 84 assists.
In the Cape Cod League, Jacob Humphrey is playing for Harwich Mariners. In 24 games, Humphrey is batting .212 (18-for-85) with one HR and nine RBI. He has struck out 32 times in those 85 at-bats. He has stolen 12 bases so far with two multiple-hit games. He is slugging at a .306 clip, with a .359 on-base percentage. His spray chart shows Jacob is going the other way a lot this summer, something that as a left-handed hitter might come in handy next spring for the River Hawks. The one thing that Jacob may want to work on is his bunting which he has not tried yet this summer.
A mixed bag of results to be sure for these players. We will have to wait and see how that translates come next spring.
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