By Jack Margaros
Springfield College baseball was represented on a global scale this summer. Connor Santoianni, right fielder for the Pride, has spent the last three weeks in Ireland as a member of their national team and played in the European Baseball Championship Pool C Qualifier.
“I played in two different tournaments. The first tournament was so we could play together and get used to each other,” Santoianni said. “Then we had a week of practicing and doing a little kids clinic. After that, we had the actual tournament where we played Norway, Finland, Greece and Slovenia.”
The rising sophomore competed for Ireland’s U18 team last summer. With a season of college baseball under his belt, he took a shot at the national squad.
“My family is from Ireland. They always talk about how great Ireland was and I hadn’t really gotten to experience that and so when they said I could play for them I jumped at the opportunity,” Santoianni said. “There was more interviews, more video submission, coaches from last year had to talk good things about me.”
Ireland won Pool C to advance to Pool B in 2019. Santoianni started all five games, and went 7-for-18 (.388) in the tournament. He reached base on about 60 percent of his at-bats while picking up seven RBI and scoring as many runs. Ireland outscored opponents 50-5 and pitched three shutouts.
“The teams weren’t super great. But Greece; Greece was really good. They had a pitcher who was two years out of Triple-A, another guy was in the minors,” Santoianni said.
In the championship against Greece, Santoianni went 2-for-5 and drove in a run while scoring twice. The diversity of his team is something that he had never gotten to experience before.
“There were 30 year olds on the team. There was half American people that got Irish passports and then actual Irish people,” Santoianni said.
He was impressed with the strong foundation a lot of these players possessed.
“They’re very fundamental in Europe with their baseball. Here (in the US) it’s kind of if you meet kind of how the other one plays. There, a lot of the European teams have a very similar approach,” Santoianni said.
In addition to participating in a summer league in the states, Santoianni enjoyed his time across the Atlantic Ocean representing a piece of his heritage.
“This was crazy. I got to play baseball. I got to experience a different culture that I never got to see before,” Santoianni said. “I had a great time. The people I met there and the teammates were great. The town I stayed in was great; the whole thing.”