BRISTOL - The Bristol Blues, and all FCBL teams for that matter, are a combination of collegiate players from all over the country who come together for a few weeks in the summer.
Building chemistry in that short of a time frame can be tough but the Blues have been aided by having multiple players from the same schools on this summer’s team.
“It’s honestly grown chemistry, like people knowing people,” Blues pitcher Izzy Fuentes said. “A bigger group will attach itself to another bigger group and, next thing you know, we connect. It’s huge part of playing as one on the field. When you have a good chemistry, it’s easier to play as one and everything just follows through after that.”
The Blues currently have five pairs of college teammates on the team and a sixth was only recently broken up due to an injury.
Fuentes is a member of one of those pairs. The sophomore out of Faulkner University has spent the entirety of the summer season with Faulkner teammate and fellow pitcher Artavious Marsh.
Fuentes and Marsh, a senior, have enjoyed playing together in Bristol this summer and they have provided each other with motivation to keep working.
“He’s a great kid,” Fuentes said of Marsh. “Honestly, he’s grown to be a like a brother to me. [We] have the same game ethic, we work as hard, we hang out [and] we do our thing. Our chemistry is there. It helps. We push each other. It’s a great blessing to have him on my side.”
While having college teammates has helped the Blues forge team camaraderie, it has also brought those same teammates closer.
Take Youngstown State teammates Lorenzo Arcuri and Andrew Kendrick. Arcuri plays the outfield while Kendrick is an infielder and, before joining the Blues, they were not terribly close.
“It’s interesting. Back at school, we were just teammates,” Arcuri said. “We weren’t that close but when we came here we actually became pretty good friends in the last two months. So it’s been actually pretty cool. [It’s] something most people don’t get to do.”
Unlike the pair from Youngstown State or Faulkner, the Blues’ duo from UMass has not been together all season.
In addition to helping with team chemistry, one teammate was able to help the other adjust to Bristol ball.
Even though Dylan Morris played for the Blues last season, it is never easy to join a team mid-season so having UMass teammates Logan Greene already on the team helped with the transition.
“It’s been good,” Morris said. “We’ve been hitting partners a lot at school and we’re both outfielders too so we both go through the grind of school ball together. It’s good to have a teammate from school on the same summer ball team. He’s been here all season so he’s been good to have around.”
In addition to those three pairs of college teammates, newly-acquired pitcher Ben Brown now joins his Post University teammate and fellow pitcher Mike Munson, while infielder Austin Chauvin and pitcher Paul Versteeg out of St. Mary’s have been able to play together a few times this summer.
Bristol also recently had a pair from Marist College, outfielder Frankie Gregoire and catcher Matt Iantosca, but Iantosca was forced out with an injury.
With more than half of the season gone, the Blues are playing like a cohesive group and the chemistry can be seen, especially after games when the players can hang out and eat a postgame meal together.
Being able to build chemistry that quickly has helped the Blues and can be at least partly contributed to many of the players coming in knowing another player beforehand. Now they just need to convert the camaraderie into some wins.
“They get along. A lot of guys get along with one another,” Blues manager Pat Riley said. “Our team camaraderie is great. The guys come in here, they work hard and get along well in the clubhouse. Things are good in terms of that. We’ve just got to try to translate that onto the playing field a little bit more.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org