All former Portland High pitcher Ryan Arsenault wanted was a place to play baseball this summer.

He found it in Canada.

Arsenault, the top pitcher for Husson University in Bangor the last three seasons, is playing for the Saint John Alpines in the New Brunswick Summer Baseball League.

“It’s a very competitive league, and the good thing is he’s going to face competition all summer,” Husson Coach Jason Harvey said.

Aaron Brideau, a Husson assistant coach who grew up in New Brunswick, recommended the left-handed pitcher to the Alpines.

“He knew we were looking for some pitching and he thought Ryan would be a good fit,” said Rob Jeffrey, the Saint John coach/general manager.

Arsenault, who is spending the summer in Bangor, was fortunate to find a place to play.

“Right now it’s so tough, especially for a Maine kid, to find a place to play in the summer,” Harvey said.

Most of the Husson players are from eastern Maine, and it became more difficult for them to find a place to play during the summer after the Bay League, a wooden-bat league based in Bangor, ceased operations.

Last summer, Arsenault played in the River Valley League, a wooden-bat league in Dubuque, Iowa. “It was fun but I had to drive halfway across the country to play,” he said.

This summer, Arsenault will travel to New Brunswick every time he’s scheduled to pitch.

“I meet him a couple of hours before game time when he pitches and then he goes home,” Jeffrey said.

The rest of the week, Arsenault, who went 7-3 to help the Eagles advance to the North Eastern Athletic Conference championship game, works out with some Husson teammates.

“I’ve actually been looking around trying to find a job, but I haven’t had much luck,” he said.

Arsenault, a starting pitcher on two American Legion state championship teams with Andrews Post, got off to great start in New Brunswick.

He was the league pitcher of the week after a one-hitter in his June 12 debut against the Charlottetown Islanders.

In his second start June 20, Arsenault got lit up by the Islanders, who cruised to a 12-5 win.

“It was almost like every pitch I threw was a bloop hit over the infield just out of the reach of an outfielder,” Arsenault said. “I gave up a few walks. There were a few errors. It was just an awful game all the way around, not just on my part. There were a couple of balls hit hard off me. That was probably one of the worst games I ever pitched.”

Each team can only import one player from outside its drawing area. As a consequence, Arsenault is one of only two Americans in the six-team league.

Former University of Maine catcher Myckie Lugbauer is playing for the Moncton Mets.

Ben Higgins, who pitches and plays shortstop at Bowdoin College, also plays for the Mets but is a native of Moncton.

The teams play a 30-game schedule. The season finishes at the end of July and is followed by three playoff rounds.

New Brunswick natives Rheal Cormier, a reliever who played 17 big-league seasons, and Matt Stairs, an outfielder/DH with 12 teams in his 17-year big-league career, played in the league.

Jason Dickson, a former American League all-star who spent four seasons with the Angels, currently pitches for his hometown Chatham Ironmen.

Arsenault, who is scheduled to pitch against Moncton tonight, got a look at a lot of the players during a preseason, round-robin tournament in Fredericton.

“Just watching the games I saw, there were clearly some guys who could pitch and could hit,” he said. “A lot of the guys are throwing in the high 80s, close to 90. They may not be in tip-top physical shape, and they may not have had the best coaching, but they can play.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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