After a disappointing 2014 season, the University of Rhode Island baseball team has a new head coach and is poised for a rebound.
New head coach Raphael Cerrato joined the Rams baseball program in 2012, following a successful four-year stint as the University of New Haven’s head coach, where he posted a 131-97 record. For Cerrato, his return to Kingston is a homecoming of sorts. Cerrato graduated from URI and played from 1989 to 1993, where he was a captain during his senior season. He was also an Atlantic 10 All-Conference pick in 1992 while playing in Kingston.
He replaces former Rhode Island head coach Jim Foster, who coached the Rams for nine seasons from 2006 to 2014. Foster left the team as the winningest coach in program history, posting 268-230-3 before leaving for Boston College after the 2014 season to become an associate head coach.
Under Foster in 2014, the Rams posted a 13-40 mark overall, including a 7-18 Atlantic 10 Conference record which was their first sub-30 win season since 2007 and their worst conference record of the century.
Cerrato did not mince words in reliving last season.
“I think last year, honestly was a horrendous season for us, for this program,” he said. “We went through a number of injuries. I think health is something that will make a difference. I think we added some very good talent.”
Rhode Island returns junior LHP Steve Moyers who threw 82 1/3 innings while posting a team-low 2.30 ERA last season. Moyers struck out 60, walked only 19 and tossed a complete game. The only other Ram with a complete game was junior RHP Lou Distasio, who threw 77 2/3 innings across his 2014 sophomore effort, striking out over seven per game alongside a 3.71 ERA. Both Moyers and Distasio are expected to be among the three weekend starters for the Rams.
“We didn’t have too much experience last year on the squad and I think this year we have a deeper staff and a more experienced staff,” senior infielder Tim Caputo said. “There’s a lot of competition which makes it hard on the coaching staff, but a good kind of hard.”
On offense, Caputo and redshirt junior Robert Gardella will lead Rhode Island. Gardella hit .276 last year with a solid .422 OBP, both of which were team bests. Caputo, who led the team in hits with 49 and finished second on the team with a .268 batting average, already has “a chip on his shoulder” moving into the new season.
“We’re ranked 13 out of 13 in the A-10. That gives us a little extra motivation” Caputo said, regarding the ranking given by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper to Rhode Island
“We want to show everyone that they made a mistake putting us dead last,” Distasio said.
Besides being slighted, Cerrato and company have only the highest expectations for this incarnation of the Rams.
“Winning an A-10 championship, going to a regional – that’s a successful season,” he said. “That’s what this programs expects, nothing less.”
The 2015 baseball campaign will open with two three-game sets against the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who are 2nd and 6th in the nation according to D1Baseball.com. The Rams first home game is against Yale on March 14.