Portsmouth (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: Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. - Second-year head coach Ryan Long is not hesitant to express his view about the future of the Portsmouth baseball program.

“We hope we can win state one of the next two years,” related Long, in reference to a program that has yet to capture a Division I title since moving up after taking the D-II crown more than a decade ago.

Long’s first season in charge of the Patriots was a success.

“Last year not a lot of people expected us to make the run we did,” noted Long, whose team finished 14-5 in the regular season, then won two postseason games before losing to eventual state champion North Kingstown in the Final Four, 4-3 and 4-2.

“I was shocked at the culture I walked into when Matt McGuire left,” the former assistant at Middletown said. “The work ethic they put in and the amount of baseball they play, there’s an atmosphere and mentality that they want to succeed.”

With two of the top players in the state on this year’s roster, Long is confident success will continue.

“When he is on the field I’m confident he’s the best player on the field,” Long said of John Maas, the ace pitcher of Portsmouth who also plays shortstop and will bat at or near the top of the lineup.

The fourth-rated junior shortstop in New England, a Boston College commit, was 6-2 with a 0.75 ERA in 55.2 innings a year ago, striking out 85, while also batting .350.

Batterymate Nick Spaner, the second-ranked 2024 catcher in Rhode Island, also brings comfort to the head coach at Portsmouth.

“I think he’s the best catcher in the state,” Long said.

With sophomore Cam Ruggieri and junior Oliver Rey adding depth on the mound, the potential is enormous in the seasons ahead. Ruggieri, who last year threw 39.2 innings with a 4-1 record, including a win over Cumberland in the playoffs, will also play first base with Rey filling in at first and shortstop in addition to providing innings on the hill.

Sophomore Casey Cord is penciled in to play second base with twin brother Charlie in the hunt for third base along with fellow 10th-grader Hayden Younger.

Caleb Banks, the lone senior on the roster, moves over from right field to center this season to help anchor the defense with Charlie Cord and junior Lukas Huffman other potential outfielders.

Newcomers that could make an impact according to Long are sophomores Emmett Greenwood and Damon Owen at pitcher, sophomore Justin Gambrell at first base and junior Matt Nolan in the outfield.

“I feel very confident with our top six or seven guys,” explained Long. “It’s what the bottom two are going to do as far as production.”

Long likes what he sees despite the need to replace eight graduated seniors from the 2022 squad.

“It’s nice to have this first group of returning players,” Long admitted. “There isn’t so much for me to take in. I can just go out there and they’re ready to go. They love it as much as me, which is hard to do. It’s just a very good culture that’s been here for years.”

Long feels that mentality can take the team a long way in 2023.

“We have a lot of returnees who are very talented and made a contribution last year,” Long said. “We have a lot of experience and believe we can play up to our competition. We just have to find a way to not play down to our competition. I believe we can do that. The confidence amongst the players is very high.”

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