Jim Foster continues to raise the bar for the University of Rhode Island’s baseball program.
Foster, a Warwick native who is about to begin his seventh season at the Rams’ baseball helm and is the first coach in URI history to post four consecutive 30-plus win seasons, just beefed up his coaching staff with two high quality assistants.
One is Rafael Cerrato, who is no stranger to URI baseball.
Cerrato is a native of Enfield, Conn. and a 1994 graduate of URI. He was a member of the Rhody baseball team from 1989-1991 and earned All-Atlantic 10 Conference honors in 1992. In 1993, which was his senior season, Cerrato was elected as the Rams’ captain.
“We are really, really excited to add someone with Coach Cerrato’s coaching experience to our staff,” said Foster, who is a graduate and former standout at both Bishop Hendricken and Providence College and who played in the Baltimore Orioles organization for a decade. “He is one of the best recruiters in our region. I know he will do a great job with our hitters, too. I have complete confidence in his ability to help our baseball program get to the next level.”
That next level, according to Foster would be “to win the (Atlantic 10) Conference championship and receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.”
Cerrato has coached baseball in Rhode Island in the past, as he served as the top assistant coach to Marek Drabinski at Brown University for five years. He then went to UMass as a recruiting coordinator prior to becoming the head baseball coach at the University of New Haven, where he has been the past five years.
New Haven, Foster noted, was 131-97 during Cerrato’s tenure. Cerrato also served as a volunteer assistant at URI under former head coach Frank Leoni. He also coached the first-ever Rhode Island Gulls (now the Newport Gulls) when the New England Collegiate Baseball League played at Cranston Stadium.
Foster has also added Chris Smith, who was an assistant to Cerrato at New Haven, to his baseball coaching staff.
Smith handled the Chargers’ pitching staff, which he developed into one of the best in all of Division I baseball, as New Haven ranked 17th in the nation last year with a 2.92 ERA.
“In my opinion, Coach Smith is one of the most talented young pitching coaches around,” Foster said. “He is going to be a tremendous help with our (pitching) staff.”
Smith played at New Haven for five years and was a two-time team captain. He posted a team best ERA in both 2009 (2.00) and 2010 (2.96) and collected 13 wins in his two years as a starter. He also made All-Conference and led New Haven to an NCAA Tournament berth in his senior season.