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05/25/2022 12:00 AM

Butler’s a King of the Hill for Old Saybrook

Jake Butler has five wins with an 0.86 ERA for an Old Saybrook baseball team that’s traveling the comeback path in 2022. Photo courtesy of Jake Butler

It’s never an easy feat to lead a team from a losing season to one that’s filled with success and memorable moments. However, Jake Butler, a senior captain on the Old Saybrook baseball team, has done just that by helping the Rams finish the 2022 regular season with a record of 14-4 after they won just five games last year.

Old Saybrook is heading to both the Shoreline Conference Tournament and the Class S State Tournament this spring. Jake’s leadership on the field and in the dugout is playing a huge role in rallying the Rams.

Jake’s first attempt to throw a baseball and swing a bat came when he was four years old. He also began playing basketball at the same time, continuing with both sports throughout his childhood and into his four years as a member of the Rams. Jake’s love for the game and the feeling of throwing a ball was something that he embraced.

“You could always see me with a ball in my hand. We’d be throwing a ball in the basement or throwing a ball with my brother and my dad,” says Jake. “I’ve always been a real sports guy, so baseball is just the next step in that.”

Jake began playing both basketball and baseball for Old Saybrook during his freshman year. Through his four seasons, he’s made steady improvements in both sports. Jake enjoys baseball more and he feels like he’s better at that sport than basketball, but he still puts in the work to improve both on the court and on the field. Now a starting pitcher for the baseball team, Jake has developed an even stronger passion for the sport as he racks up wins on the mound.

“I take pride in not letting up runs. I don’t throw the hardest, but I take pride in not letting them score,” Jake says. “Last year, I batted .340 and made Honorable Mention for [All-Shoreline] for infielder. This year, I didn’t bat as well. I got unlucky and was hitting it to people. I did a lot better in pitching than in previous years, which has really surprised me.”

As a starting pitcher and captain, Jake posted a record of 5-2 with a remarkable earned-run average of 0.86 for the Rams during the regular season. The right-hander’s performance on the hill has played an integral role in Old Saybrook’s success. Jake was determined to prove any doubters wrong on the heels of last season.

“People didn’t really think I was going to be a big pitcher. Last year, I didn’t start the season as the starting pitcher and then, this year, I had a sub-1.00 ERA,” says Jake. “I really thought I was doubted, and I had to prove myself.”

One of the things that has helped Jake fulfill his goals as a senior is the chemistry among the Rams. Jake has played with many of his teammates for ages, and he believes that their strong bonds are making a big difference for Old Saybrook this year.

“We’ve all been playing together for a while, ever since Little League and AAU teams. We all have a great chemistry, and there’s a great team vibe that goes around,” Jake says. “When we’re all up, we’re all really up on each other, but if someone goes down, we really try to pick them back up and make them continue playing and not think about it, just leaving mistakes in the past.”

Jake’s leadership has not only made an impact on his teammates, but has also impressed Head Coach Ryan Fraser, who is in his first year as Old Saybrook’s skipper. Fraser’s debut season with the Rams has gone smoothly thanks to the presence of players like Jake.

“Guys look to Jake when things get tough, and his calm demeanor in pressure situations plays a big part in our success as a team,” says Fraser. “Jake is a fierce competitor who loves the big moment. The best part of having someone like Jake on the team is his work ethic and personality.”

Coach Fraser realizes how important Jake has been in terms of Old Saybrook’s turnaround. Fraser knows that Jake’s competitiveness has a positive impact on everyone on the Rams’ roster.

“Jake is a senior captain who will certainly be missed in future years, but he played a major role in the continued development of baseball in Old Saybrook,” Fraser says. “That is important to have on a team, especially as a first-year head coach.”

After missing the playoffs last season, Jake is excited to lead his team into the postseason this spring. Jake and his teammates have become brothers after spending so much time playing baseball together. Now, they all get a chance to shine in the postseason spotlight while competing in both Shorelines and states.

“I’m excited to play great competition. Postseason is always more fun. It’s always more intense,” says Jake. “We didn’t go there last year at all, so making both this year, is a huge step forward, and I’m just trying to win those games.”

Jake will be attending Eastern Connecticut State University after he graduates from Old Saybrook. Jake plans to study finance and wants to continue playing baseball at the next level. While he’s excited about the next chapter of his life, Jake is going to miss competing alongside his fellow Rams on the high school diamond.

“I’ve known them whole life. I’ve always played with them,” Jake says. “It’s going to be weird not playing with them anymore. I think I’m going to miss it.”