Matt Canterino, Jack Little “on the right track” after Team USA experience

FALMOUTH – Two Falmouth Commodores arms returned to the team after time away in an attempt to represent their country. Matt Canterino and Jack Little returned just in time for July 4 fireworks after a valiant attempt to crack the USA Collegiate National Team Roster.

Both rising juniors – Canterino at Rice and Little at Stanford – earned invitations to try out for the National Team after standout sophomore seasons this past spring. Although they didn’t make the final cut, both Canterino and Little felt satisfied with their opportunities and are glad to return to Falmouth.

“You may say it didn’t go my way, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider Cape Cod like a fallback,” Canterino said. “… I’m always trying to work on my craft, and the competition up here definitely suffices for that.”

Little and Canterino left for the USA Baseball National Training Complex located in North Carolina on June 25. Each appeared twice in Famouth, Canterino has tossed 8.2 scoreless across two starts and Little allowed one run in 2.1 frames.

They returned to Falmouth on July 3 after participating in the 18th USA vs. Chinese Taipei Friendship Series. Although neither were selected for the final 24-man roster, they did make their mark on the international stage.

Little appeared twice in the Series. In his first appearance he pitching one inning, allowing one earned run. He followed with a scoreless frame against Chinese Taipei two days later.

“I definitely went out there and attacked with my best stuff,” Little said. “I have no regrets and didn’t leave anything behind.”

Canterino tossed 1.2 scoreless in his only appearance as USA swept the five game set against Chinese Taipei.

“I’m on the right track,” Canterino said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and progressively get better.”

He also expressed gratitude for wearing the USA jersey. It was both Canterino’s and Little’s first experiences in the National Team program.

“You’re putting those three letters on the front of your chest, and it’s just an incredible experience,” Canterino said. “Once you do it for the first time, it’s almost surreal.

“It was just a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

They earned invitations to the Collegiate National Team try out after stellar sophomore seasons in college this past spring.

Little earned a bevy of honors for his work out of the Cardinal bullpen after transitioning from a starting role. His stellar campaign culminated with a semifinalist nod for the Stopper of the Year Award, a trophy given out to the nation’s best closer by the National College Baseball Writer’s Association.

Matt Canterino in his second start of the summer. Photo by Haylee Blitch.

Canterino was named to the 2018 Conference USA First Team All-Conference, holding opponents to a mere .188 batting average across 94 innings pitched. He struck out an impressive 116, ringing up opposing batters at a top 50 rate in the nation.

Jack Little throwing in a June 24 game at Brewster. Photo by Haylee Blitch.

Their cuts from the Collegiate National Team were more a numbers game than anything, both Canterino and Little pitched well, but others simply threw a little better.

Prior to their first game back, Canterino was showing his Commodores teammates and coaches different grips of pitches. He said he learned from LSU’s Zack Hess and Elon’s Kyle Brnovich among others.

They also spent the week as roommates, becoming close friends in the process.

“We developed a nice relationship, and we’re excited to be back,” Little said.

“Jack’s a good dude, and it was a fun time out there,” Canterino said.

Little confirmed that the fiery competitor in Canterino appeared in Fortnite battles during time off. Now they’re set to hone their craft on the mound at Guv Fuller Field once again.

“[I’m] using it as an opportunity to get better,” Little said. “Just go out and compete, wins some games, and have some fun.”

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Greg Levinsky can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky

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