30 June 2006

Barnstable boys battle the best

Just over a year ago Barnstable teammates Matt Costello and Rich Tri were facing the likes of D-Y, Falmouth and Nauset High Schools. Today, they’re facing some of the best collegiate baseball players in the nation. 

The local boys have found temporary homes in the Cape League, as Costello works from the bullpen for the Cotuit Kettleers and Tri patrols the outfield for the Chatham A’s. 

It’s a far cry from the teammates’ senior year, as their 1-2 punch on the mound dominated the competition, leading the Red Raiders to a 19-3 regular season record and a run deep into the state tournament. 

Tri, who grew up in Washington State but spent his summers in Barnstable, had similar aspirations. 

"I always wanted to play in the Cape League," he says. "I told myself I’d go to college just so I could play in the Cape League." 

Following his All-Star season for the Raiders, Tri was close to heading back west for college, and a chance to play football at Arizona State University. 

But an impressive showing during a Babe Ruth All-Star game that summer, led to an impromptu scholarship offer from Central Connecticut State University. 

"I did well in the game and coach Hickey offered me a scholarship right there," says the 6-1 outfielder. 

Tri had to act quickly as he was scheduled to fly to Arizona for orientation later that day. But the chance to play both football and baseball and the offer of the scholarship were enough to keep him in the East. 

The Everett, Wash. native started all but one game for the Blue Devils and was tied for the team lead in home runs. 

While both players had successful freshman campaigns, neither was offered permanent contracts leaving the league’s open tryouts their last chance for a temporary contract and a roster spot. Tri went to the pre-season tryout. 

"I was nervous at first," says Tri of his tryout experience. "But I felt real good after seeing the first few pitchers." 

While he felt confident with his efforts at the tryouts, the right-hander left Spillane Field empty-handed. 

"I wasn’t sure if someone was going to take me," he says. "I pretty much sat around all the next day waiting for a call." 

That call came at 9 p.m., when Chatham A’s coach John Schiffner contacted Tri with an offer. So far he has five hits in 14 at bats for a .357 average and got the game winning hit Wednesday night in the 10th inning. 

"It should be every college player’s dream to play in the Cape League," says Tri. 

By Dave Colantuono