7 August 2009
Small School, Small Guy, Big Lessons in Harwich
By Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern
HARWICH, Mass.—When Rob Gariano (Fairfield) came to the Cape this summer to play for the Harwich Mariners, he knew he’d be facing top quality players from top name schools across the country, but that didn’t change his mentality coming from a small division one school.
“Coming out here, obviously you hear about all these great players here but I just have that confidence,” Gariano said. “I have confidence in myself and what I can do. That’s just what it is, having a lot of confidence and knowing what your abilities are. I’m not scared—you can’t be scared coming into a league like this.”
“Considering that Robbie started as a temp player,” said pitching coach Ryan Parker, “it was important for him to max out any time he had with this league, which fortunately for him started out really well. He’s kind of undersized so he’s really got to use all his strength, all of his focus in order to have really good outings every time, to try to compete at this level consistently.”
Gariano began his summer as a starter for the Mariners, taking on a role he was familiar with having been a starter at Fairfield, but the 5-10 pitcher quickly changed roles and became a closer. He views the change as an opportunity to learn.
“I like the opportunity,” he said. “Up at school I’m a starter, I start all the time, so it’s like a new role for me. Every day I learn something new, and just, you get to play with these great players—they just teach me things, the coaches, there’s so much I can bring back to Fairfield. I’m kind of excited to go back.”
In particular, the right hander, who has gained the nickname “Red Bull” for his high intensity energy on and off the field, has been working on keeping his front side closed during a pitch in an effort to maintain more control over his fastball.
“We had a lot of dialogue since the beginning of the summer about what his best pitches are and making sure he’s throwing his best pitches the most often,” said Parker, “and over time I think he realized that his two seam fastball—throwing it inside to right-handers and running it away from left-handers—is his strength, something he does really naturally.”
Gariano hopes to sign a contract to play for the Seattle Mariners or for the Atlanta Braves, but is ready to go back to Fairfield in the fall and continue working on his pitching if he doesn’t sign by the end of this summer.
Ashley Crosby can be reached at [email protected]
Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Michael Campbell, Katy Ann Fitzpatrick