‘I never want to leave’: 2024 crop of Gatemen arrive to Wareham ahead of opening day

Jun 14, 2024

At some point during a cold, wet early spring day in northeast Pennsylvania, Ryan Smyth starts the countdown clock. For the second-year manager of the Wareham Gatemen, the excitement for summer baseball on the Cape starts in March.

“I count the days down until I’m out here, and when I’m out here, I never want to leave,” Smyth said.

With opening day Saturday, June 15, several of the nation’s most elite young ballplayers have arrived in town to represent the Wareham Gatemen for the 2024 season of the Cape Cod Baseball League. 

The Cape League is a collegiate summer league that every year attracts the best of the best from college baseball.

This year’s Gatemen hail from schools across the country — as far as Colby Turner from San Diego and as near as A.J. Colarusso from Chestnut Hill.

Colarusso, a left-handed pitcher at Boston College, has known Cape League baseball for a long time. A Leominster native, he first attended a game as a young teenager, he said. Now he’ll take the mound for Wareham this summer. 

“I’ve always wanted to play here,” Colarusso said, “I’m just excited to make the most of it.”

Multiple Wareham players — like Princeton right-handed pitcher Jacob Faulkner and Antonio Jimenez, a shortstop from the University of Miami — said they looked forward to facing the top competition of college baseball’s best that compose the ten-team Cape League.

Jimenez said the opportunity to play for the Gatemen and spend a summer on the Cape after a long collegiate season is a “fresh start.”

“You never want to turn that down,” Jimenez said.

And perhaps now more than ever, the connection is evident between a Gateman today possibly developing into a big league superstar tomorrow.

Three years ago, a pitcher out of the United States Air Force Academy spent a brief summer in Wareham. Just 19 years old at the time, Paul Skenes would two years later be drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Gatemen alum has excelled since debuting in the majors this May and is on a fast track to MLB stardom.

From college to Cape Cod

For the players that make up the Wareham Gatemen, the buffer is thin between the school season ending into getting down to the Cape to spend a summer competing against fellow collegiate all-stars.

Four Gatemen, in fact, have yet to make it to Wareham. Jaxon Lucas and Heath Andrews of North Carolina State and Yoel Tejeda Jr. and Max Williams of Florida State are all in Omaha, Nebraska still competing in the College World Series.

Another same-school duo on the 2024 Gatemen arrived to Wareham during the week prior to opening day.

Jake Cubbler and Jace Rinehart were teammates and roommates at the University of South Carolina Upstate. They will be teammates and roommates again in Wareham. 

“We couldn’t really wait to get here honestly,” Cubbler said.

Ballplayers across the Cape League only have a few days to acclimate with their team before the season begins.

“All new people. All new teams,” St. John’s right hander Sam Mettert said.

Even so, there’s naturally a mutual interest in baseball.

“We don’t know each other but we all have something in common to start with, so it’s real easy to get to know guys and play with them,” Rinehart said.

Just before the season’s start, Wareham met with the Brewster Whitecaps and Bourne Braves for an exhibition affair. The Gatemen are gelling, according to Smyth

“I’m excited about the year,” Smyth said. “Boys are ready to go.”