Mt. Hope (RI)

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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To view the full list of 2023 Team Previews that we have already completed, please click here.

2023 Spring Team Preview: Mt. Hope

BRISTOL, R.I. - At just 34 years of age, Mike Mazzarella has become a veteran coach entering his 10th season at Mt. Hope. It is a program that is beginning to make a name for itself.

“Before me there was a lot of turnover in coaching,” Mazzarella reflected. “We as a high school struggled for a few years prior to me, but we’ve brought in some consistency. I brought in a staff and they’ve been here for the entire ride. It’s been fun to see the whole evolution of what we’re trying to bring.”

There was a Division 3 championship in 2016 and D-2 titles in 2018 and 2021 before moving up to Division 1 a year ago.

“I took over a 1-17 team,” noted Mazzarella, who has a record of 95-46 at Mt. Hope. “We’ve worked hard. Without good players we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The first season in D-1 saw the Huskies finish with an 11-7 record, beating Cranston East in the playoffs before falling to Bishop Hendricken and ace pitcher Alex Clemmey, a Vanderbilt commit.

“We competed very well,” Mazzarella pointed out. “He’s a really good pitcher.”

With three key returnees in 2023, Mt. Hope is … well, hoping to be able to play with the big boys like Hendricken.

“These guys show up and work hard every day,” Mazzarella said. “They fully trust the coaching staff and our vision of the program. They’re really focused and really want to win. We’re proud to have started as a D-3 program and are now D-1, and they want to get better. It shows in practice.”

The senior trio of Brad Denson, A.J. Jones and Parker Camelo are back to lead the cause this season. Denson and Jones are right-handed pitchers, with Denson, a Salve Regina commit, also playing first base, and Jones, who has signed with the University of Rhode Island, a right fielder. Camelo, the 12th-rated 2023 in the state, is a Rhode Island College recruit who plays shortstop.

“The pitching staff is our strength, by far,” explained Mazzarella, whose pitching will get a big boost from sophomore left-hander Ethan Santerre, a leadoff hitter and center fielder when not on the mound. “We pride our program on pitching and defense. Brad and A.J. throw 90 and Ethan is a crafty lefty.”

Jones was 5-1 with one save throwing a team-high 42 innings last year with 63 strikeouts and a 0.43 ERA. Denson and Santerre each produced two wins, Denson with a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings and Santerre tossing 10 frames.

“Our ERA was sub-three last year,” Mazzarella pointed out. “I really trust our pitching staff. I think our pitching will take us far.”

Dayton Van Amberg, who was 2-0 with a save and is now pitching at CCRI, must be replaced on the mound while Jack Sandish, a left-handed stick currently playing at Rhode Island College, leaves a hole in the lineup after driving in a team-high 12 runs a year ago.

Camelo will anchor the order after batting .400 with 10 runs scored and nine RBIs in 2022. Jones hit .385 while Santerre scored a team-best 14 runs while averaging .273 as a freshman.

Senior Matt Gale, a team captain, returns to catch with freshmen Brian Abbruzzi, a left-handed hitter, and Jonathan Kay battling for playing time at first base along with Denson, who batted .250 last season.

Camelo will be at short and also provide relief on the mound this season with second base and third base positions wide open. Jones will be in right and Santerre center with Abbruzzi and Kay also seeing time in the outfield. 

“The key for us is we have to score runs,” Mazzarella said. “We have to have quality at-bats and put runs on the board.”

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