A New Home—On the Mound

Ciancola Scholarship recipient Tyler Brosius ’20 knew there wasn’t room for him in centerfield, so he found a new home—on the mound—and became one of the Atlantic 10’s top relief pitchers.

Centerfielder Tyler Brosius ’20 arrived at URI one year after All-Conference and All-Region centerfielder Jordan Powell. After seeing no playing time as a redshirt freshman, Brosius was honest with himself about how the next few years would likely play out.

“I was playing behind a really talented veteran player and I knew I wasn’t going to take his spot,” Brosius says. “If I was going to contribute to the team, it would have to be in some other way. So I asked the coaches to give me a chance on the mound.”

Brosius had made just one pitching appearance in high school, but Rams baseball head coach Raphael Cerrato agreed to give him a shot.

“Tyler’s a great kid, and I respected his willingness to take on a new role,” Cerrato says. “Coming to us with this idea showed a lot of maturity, and a strong desire to be part of the team, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Brosius made four appearances during that 2017 season, giving up six runs on six hits over 3.1 innings of work. Statistically speaking, the following season wasn’t any better. He lacked command–issuing 10 walks and allowing 18 hits through 11.2 innings—and finished the year with a whopping 12.34 ERA.

Unwilling to believe that was his best, Brosius worked tirelessly in the offseason. In 2019, his effort paid off. He turned in a team-best 2.27 ERA with a 6-2 record, six saves, 32 strikeouts, and only six walks. Opponents hit just .195 off of him.

Call it a breakout season. Call it a reward for hard work. The one thing Cerrato won’t call it is a surprise.

“He was filthy last fall, almost unhittable,” Cerrato says. “Right from the beginning, he was coachable and willing to work. He kept at it, kept making adjustments. Once he figured it out, the confidence came. From that point on, he was our go-to arm out of the bullpen.”

When Cerrato had to choose a 2020 Ciancola Scholarship recipient, he took a moment to reflect.

The scholarship honors the memory of Rams pitcher Joey Ciancola, who passed away in 2011 during his redshirt freshman season. It is awarded to the player who best embodies Ciancola’s spirit and character, takes pride in representing URI, displays a strong work ethic and commitment to his teammates, represents himself well in the community, and is a leader on and off the field.

It had to be Brosius. It was a no-brainer.

“Tyler has come such a long way,” Cerrato says. “He’s gone from a non-scholarship outfielder to one of the best relievers in the country, with a realistic chance to pitch professionally.”

It’s not just his performance on the mound that demands respect, though.

“He’s an excellent student, a guy you want representing your program, and someone the Ciancola family can be proud to have carrying on Joey’s legacy,” says Cerrato.

The gravity of that responsibility is not lost on Brosius.

“It’s an incredible honor,” Brosius says. “You play every day for your team, and your teammates, and your university. But to play for someone else, who didn’t have the chance to fulfill his own dreams? That’s something that will be in the back of my mind every time I step out on the field this season.” •

–Jodi Pontbriand

Photo: Brett Munson