(WPRI) – On Christmas morning, members of the Brown baseball team headed to the airport to start an early morning of travel to the Dominican Republic.

From Christmas to New Year’s Day, the team played three games against semi-pro teams, as well as engaged in community service projects and sightseeing excursions. The trip not only reignited passion for the game of baseball, but it also contributed to a new appreciation for everyday opportunities.

The squad acclimated to the area with a workout on the beach when they arrived. During the workout, the Bears not only competed with each other, but also competed with local training squads.

Head coach Grant Achilles made note of the impact interacting with the community was and how because of it, the perspective of the trip was enhanced.

“Our workout on the beach was surrounded by players of all ages, including a current player on an MLB 40-man roster,” Achilles said. “It allowed us to play loose and play fun which led to success. Transferring this style of play over to competitive games will surely find us success in the spring to come.”

The Bears had the unique opportunity to visit an orphanage which made “gratitude” an emphasis point on the trip.

“A common theme throughout the week was finding a path forward, or even a solution, with less resources than we are used to having,” Achilles said.

“There were myriad examples of people living with minimal resources who were more than just surviving – they were thriving.”

At the orphanage, the team engaged with children in multiple activities ranging from a group soccer game, baseball catches, shooting hoops, and dancing on a stage.

For some, including senior first baseman Ryan Marra, it was the most rewarding part of the entire trip. “The most impactful part of this trip for the team off the field was definitely the visit to the orphanage. Getting to interact with those kids really put life into perspective,” the first baseman said. “Seeing their energy and positive outlook on life made it apparent to us most of our worries and fears are arbitrary.”

Brown started its three-game campaign against the Dominican Army. With a dominant performance on the mound, the Bears posted a two-hit shutout with zero walks and finished on top 9-0.

Following the game, Brown donated equipment to the team, and toured the Colonial Zone, a historical neighborhood in Santo Domingo which is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas.

To top it off, Brown was able to attend a Dominican Winter League Playoff game, where they watched MLB players including Pittsburgh Pirates’ shortstop Oneil Cruz, Atlanta Braves’ left fielder Marcell Ozuna, and second baseman Robinson Cano.

The Bears continued to give back to the community and took part in a youth clinic. Following the clinic, Brown won its middle game 12-7. Junior catcher Quinn Rooks and freshman outfielder Logan Meusy each had a homerun and junior infielder Charles Crawford reached base four times. The pitching was led by freshman Peter Dubie and senior Derian Morphew. Dubie tossed three shutout frames while Morphew threw two scoreless. 

Brown’s final game was a challenging test. Up against a team of former and future professional players coached by Cano’s father, Jose, the Bears were competitive but lost 4-1. Afterwards, the team restored houses in a nearby village of Gautier and assisted in painting several homes.

Sophomore Nathan Brasher stated that this was his favorite part of the trip and is what resonated most with his newfound perspective.

“My favorite part of the trip was painting the houses because I got to be with the local Dominican people in their environment rather than a tourist heavy location,” said Brasher. “For me, my main takeaway was to look at the big picture and understand what really makes you happy in life.”

The trip’s final day ended the way it started; with a morning beach workout. Later that day, the team went on an excursion to Isla Saona on New Year’s Eve, where the Bears happily spent the day relaxing and enjoying each other’s company to say farewell to 2022. After ringing in 2023 on the final night, the team headed home the next day.

The journey to the Dominican Republic was one that members of the team will remember for a lifetime.

“The trip helped reinvigorate our teams’ love and passion for baseball,” said Marra. “It truly taught us it’s not about the gear you have or the circumstances you’re given but the heart and desire to play the game you love.”

The Bears start their 2023 season at Georgia State from Feb. 24-26. The following weekend, they head to the University of New Orleans for a three-game set. Brown will then play in Cary, N.C. for a four-game series against Penn State at the USA Baseball National Training Complex from Mar. 10-12.

The Ivy League schedule opens on the road at defending league champion Columbia during the final weekend of the month.