NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – With the quickly approaching NECBL season now a mere two weeks away, a prevalent theme all over the 10 New England communities that call themselves home to the league’s teams will be that of change and, in come cases, instability.
But that is often the case at season’s beginning in a summer collegiate baseball league. Rosters, which may have been etched in “stone” as early as the previous fall, will undergo constant changes as players across the region begin to file in to their temporary summer communities. They will continue to morph likely for most of June, while other players are off contending for conference, regional, super regional and perhaps even national crowns with their respective collegiate squads.
But in North Adams, there will be two familiar faces back in the Berkshires come the afternoon of Sunday, June 1, when the 2012 SteepleCats are slated to arrive in the community for the first time.
Both players hail from the Garden State; both players happen to play their collegiate ball at Rutgers; and, more importantly, both players have donned the black and gold jerseys in seasons before this, and both had quite the impact during their previous go-around in North Adams.
So it is with open arms that the SteepleCats welcome back Rutgers teammates and classmates (by athletic eligibility standards, at least) Tyler Gebler (Island Heights, N.J.) and Charlie Law (Linwood, N.J.) to the organization for both players’ second stint with the SteepleCats this summer.
Gebler and Law were key components on a Rutgers University team that finished the 2012 campaign this past week in the BIG EAST Tournament. The Scarlet Knights finished the year 31-25, marking the 16th time since the 1984 season that Rutgers finished with 30 or more wins.
Gebler was a member of the weekend rotation, finishing with three wins and a 4.54 ERA while amassing an impressive 51 strikeouts compared to only 17 walks. The righty also picked up a save and tossed two complete games in 83 1/3 innings of action. Law, meanwhile, saw more time at first base this season, finishing with a solid .273 average at the plate, including eight doubles, two homers and 19 RBI. The redshirt junior, who was bouncing back after a missed 2011 season from Tommy John Surgery, made 11 relief appearances on the hill, earning three saves with 13 strikeouts and six walks.
While both players were members of two different SteepleCat teams – Law spent his summer in the Berkshires in 2009 while Gebler arrived a year later – both played important roles during their respective seasons.
In 2010, Gebler – a former closer-turned starter – posted an impressive 5-2 record and 2.12 ERA in eight starts, tossing 51 innings while striking out a team-high 47 batters while issuing only nine walks. He then took his talents to the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, serving as a reliable option out of the bullpen for the Orleans Firebirds.
Law, meanwhile, went 3-1 in seven starts with the SteepleCats in 2009. He posted a 3.79 ERA while totaling 40 1/3 innings, striking out 47 and walking 23 along the way. Both of those teams finished with at least 25 wins and qualified for the playoffs, while Gebler’s 2010 squad captured the organization’s first-ever Western Division title.
With both players back in the Berkshires, first-year manager Bryan Adamski should have two worthy, seasoned, and – most importantly – familiar options to turn to in times of need this season.
The New Jersey duo will rank among some of the older and more experienced players in the pitching staff, and in leagues often defined by strong pitching – especially in the earlier portions – it will be up to the likes of Gebler and Law to lead the way for a SteepleCats team looking to take greater strides than ever before in 2012.