By Owen Shadrick
The Brockton Rox are starting fresh. New coach, many new players and even some new stadium renovations have the Rox feeling good about this season.
Last season, Brockton finished third in the league at 19-20. With the season being shortened and only two teams playing for the championship, Brockton got the short end of the stick.
The one aspect of the Rox that was not the short end of the stick was pitching, specifically their ace. Nick Sinacola was a force last year for the Rox, going 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA. In 39 innings pitched, which led the league, he gave up 25 hits, seven earned runs and struck out 55 batters, which also led the league.
However, Sinacola is not walking through that door. However, the Rox do have many people walking into that door for the 2021 season, including a new skipper.
Michael Garza is the new head coach of the Rox. Garza has three years of experience at the University of Virginia, where he is the Coordinator of Video and Scouting. He also has experience in pro ball, as he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 20th round of the 2012 MLB draft. The Rox are excited to have him aboard.
“We are extremely excited to have Michael coaching our team this year,” said Tom Tracey, general manager of the Rox. “His baseball experience both playing and with his own business in Texas and coaching at the University of Virginia is great for us. We look forward to watching him grow and develop our players using his knowledge and experience in baseball.”
Along with a new head coach, the Rox are welcoming back some of their players from the 2020 season. Most notably among those names is Wheaton College’s Jacob Studley. In 31 games last season, Studley hit .294, with 32 hits, 20 runs, five doubles, a triple and two home runs. He also walked 11 times and stole four bases. Studley led the team in average among its regular starters, was tied for second in RBI and was in the top five for hits, runs, doubles and stolen bases. He was a big part of their offense last year and his presence will be felt this summer.
“Having Studley back is huge for us,” said Tracey. “Wheaton is making a major run this season and he is a huge part of that. This season has given him more experience and more leadership that we expect him to bring to the Rox this summer. He is second to none in the outfield and his approach at the plate has been impeccable. We are really looking forward to having him back.”
Pat Roche, out of Boston College, and Tommy Lapham, out of Babson College, are also among the returning players. In 19 games, Roche hit .268 with 15 hits, 14 runs, a double, a triple, two home runs and 11 RBI. In 10 games, Lapham hit .276 with 8 hits, four runs and four RBI. Ben Rounds, from Harvard University, will come over from the Nashua Silver Knights to play for Brockton. In 29 games, Rounds hit .233 with 21 hits, 15 runs, a double, three runs and 13 RBI. Rounds also went 4-for-9 in the championship with a run, an RBI and a walk. Rounds brings his championship experience to Brockton to try and help them capture the title in 2021.
On the hill, the Rox welcome back Holden Ferrari. Ferrari, with one of the coolest last names in the league, appeared in 11 games and 11 innings last season, ended with a 2.75 ERA and gave up just eight hits while striking out six. Ferrari was also part of the Rox combined no-hitter last season along with starter Jack Fox and reliever Joey Walsh.
From the old faces, to the new, the Rox are bringing in a plethora of new talent that could help jolt their roster. The Rox roster is highlighted with 10 freshmen all going to D1 schools, including the University of Connecticut, Boston College and West Virginia University. The University of Connecticut features three freshmen, pitchers Brady Afthim and Ramsey Collins, and infielder Zach Stephenson. BC incoming freshman Sean Hard will join Eagle Pat Roche on the roster for some early team bonding. Outside of the freshmen, Northeastern is heavily represented, with junior and pitcher James Quinlivan and catcher and sophomore JP Olson.
“Having coaches from these schools reach out was exciting,” said Tracey. “We are thrilled to have these guys bringing a new level of competition to our team because they go up against some of the best players in college.”
The Rox are ready to rock and with the roster nearly set and the season approaching, it is almost time to roll.