BRISTOL - The Bristol Blues starting pitching has worn thin both due to injuries and innings limits being reached this summer, and the organization is now turning to a local standout to help bolster a depleted staff.
Bristol Eastern’s two-time All-CCC selection Jagger Duquette signed a contract with the Blues on Monday, joined the team for its road trip to face the Brockton Rox on Tuesday and is expected to get a start either Thursday or Friday.
“I’ve been waiting to play at this level of baseball for a long time,” Duquette said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for college. Just the little glimpse that I had [Tuesday] night got me excited for college. It’s just got that feel because all those kids play college baseball. It’s not like youth baseball anymore. They get to play at the next level. They know what it’s like.”
Duquette was told he will get a start in one of the Blues’ final regular season games. If he starts Thursday, he will be playing at the familiar Muzzy Field confines, where he pitched many games in high school and he also spent time as a ballpark worker there this summer, sometimes serving as the Blues’ mascot.
“It’s pretty awesome because the whole summer I’ve been working there and watching the games a little bit, and I wished I was playing there,” Duquette said. “It was good because I was making money, but now that I’m actually on the team and get to pitch with them, I’m pretty excited.”
During his senior season at Bristol Eastern, the University of Bridgeport commit finished with a 5-2 record, 2.17 ERA and a 55:14 K:BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings pitched. He parlayed that into a successful summer on the Bristol American Legion team, where he was the club’s ace and threw 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Southington on Sunday in the South Windsor Super Regional.
Duquette surrendered two runs in that game, which was his final Legion game of the summer. Bristol lost to Waterford on Monday to bow out of the state tournament’s double-elimination format.
“I didn’t plan on us losing [Monday],” Duquette said. “I didn’t plan on losing the second Legion game in a row, but we lost so I went with the Blues and I’ll be there the rest of the way.”
Earlier this summer, Duquette says he had planned on trying out for the Blues. The team, however, had already filled out its roster, but he still wanted to play for the club.
After seeing an article in The Bristol Press earlier in the season about how the team didn’t have enough pitching depth, Duquette texted his boss, Blues assistant general manager Cynthia Frendt, and asked she mention to general manager Brian Rooney and manager Ronnie Palmer that he was interested in playing and that, “I live in town and that it’d be a lot easier to just find someone in Bristol rather than trying to find a college guy and put him in a [host] house.”
With the attrition rate to the pitching staff - both starters and the bullpen -the Blues have experienced over the past two weeks, the team needed reinforcements, and Frendt let Duquette know the organization was interested.
Blues pitching coach Jordie Scheiner contacted Duquette on Sunday night after the Legion team’s loss to express interest in signing him. Duquette discussed his wishes with Legion head coach Jerry LaPenta and it was agreed he would join the team once the state playoffs were over.
Duquette won’t have a long stay with the team, just four regular season games remain, including Wednesday night’s home contest against the Worcester Bravehearts, before the FCBL playoffs begin. But during that time, Duquette’s plan is to become a sponge and learn as much as he can to prepare for his freshman season in college.
“In the bullpen, when guys were throwing [Tuesday night] I was just watching what they were doing and I could see their process,” Duquette said. “It was crazy to see where some of these kids go to school and how humble they are. They’re humble with their abilities. They don’t like to flaunt that.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-811 or firstname.lastname@example.org