Jim Foster, the winningest coach in University of Rhode Island baseball history, resigned on July 17 to take an associate head coaching role with Boston College.
URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn was quick to name his replacement. Â It was announced the same day that one of Foster’s assistant coaches, Raphael Cerrato, had been appointed interim head coach for the 2015 season. Cerrato, a former Rams player from 1989-1993, was previously the head coach at the University of New Haven. He most recently served as recruiting coordinator the last three seasons and exclusively worked with the team’s infielders and hitters.
“First and foremost he cares,” Foster said when asked about Cerrato. “He graduated from here and was a player here. He’s one of the nicest people to meet and he’s paid his dues. [Cerrato] is ready for this and the guys are going to love him. It’s going to be a very smooth transition. Â I think it’s a great choice.”
Foster’s tenure with the Rams was a successful one. He and the team achieved six consecutive seasons of 30 or more wins from 2008-2013 and three trips to the Atlantic 10 Championship game in the last four years. Over that span he also saw dozens of players achieve great success in terms of awards and recognition, such as Nick Greenwood, Jeff Roy and Sean Furney making stride in the MLB system. Foster also oversaw improvements to the baseball facilities from the complete resurfacing of Bill Beck Field and the construction of the team’s indoor hitting facility. These tasks were totaled at around $2 million.
“When I first took the job, we didn’t have a field to play on,” Foster said. “Now we have new and improved facilities and a field to play on and call home. What I’ll miss most is the relationships I’ve had with my players and coaches and the development of players. We had a great group of players and never had any problems with them. We did it the right way. I hope they all have great success in the future.”
Despite coming off an injury- and inconsistency-plagued 13-40 season this year, URI is returning several veteran players. Infielder Tim Caputo, who batted .274 in 2014, and pitchers Lou Distasio and Steve Moyers, who had ERAs of 3.49 and 2.19 respectively last season, will be among those coming back in 2015. While URI will conduct a full coaching search following the season, Cerrato is focused on performing as well as possible with the players at his disposal.
“This is a place that I want to be for long, long time,” Cerrato said. “”We have a great group of players returning in the fall, as well as a solid group of freshmen coming in to the university, and I can’t wait to get back out on the field with these guys. I am incredibly thankful for being given the chance to add to the tradition and success of Rhode Island baseball.”