The Coleumn: For Braden Quinn, a second strikeout-filled summer in Danbury “meant everything”


Writer’s Note: All quotes were obtained on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, unless noted otherwise. 

Braden Quinn pitches at a UConn baseball game. Quinn recorded a record number of strikeouts this summer. Photo courtesy of UConn Athletics

In 2010, former Major Leaguer and Danbury Westerners’ All-Star Mike Hauschild finished second in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with 50 punchouts and a 1.24 ERA among qualified pitchers. No Westerner threw that many strikeouts in one season until Braden Quinn recorded 53 this past summer. A junior on the UConn baseball team, Quinn sat down a quarter of those hitters, 14 to be exact, in the second leg of a doubleheader against the Sanford Mainers at the Roadhouse at Rogers Park on June 20. 

“I really had everything going for me,” the southpaw said about that seven-inning complete game. “Getting those strikeouts really helped my confidence; it really allowed me to have the confidence to throw a lot of pitches in counts I usually do not.” 

Quinn’s only run-scoring blemish in that outing occurred when Eddie Eisert went yard in the fourth, but that solo blast made all the difference as Sanford secured a 1-0 win and a twin bill sweep. Even with the junior lefty striking out hitters, wins still eluded him. Danbury got outscored 21-7 in the lefty’s three subsequent starts, all losses, but the unfortunate trend cannot be contained within a single summer. 

One year earlier, Quinn made four starts in seven games for the Westerners, going 0-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 36 strikeouts. Those numbers earned Danbury’s NECBL All-Star Game fan vote representative a spot on the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Harwich Mariners for their postseason push, which the Brewster Whitecaps ended with a first-round sweep. 

“The Cape is the pinnacle, of course,” Quinn commented regarding his short time on Cape Cod. “You see guys in the bullpen who are getting the work in.” 

Starting out in a bullpen role in his second Hat City summer 10 months later, including getting chucked into the fire after Central Connecticut State’s TJ Wainwright went down with an elbow injury on June 10, the second-year Westerner did not allow an earned run and struck out four in two contests. Not even two weeks removed from a subpar spring, where he had a team-worst 16.43 ERA in 14 games for the Huskies, those two bullpen appearances turned Quinn’s year around. 

“Starting in the bullpen helped me figure that out, and then getting a starting routine really helped me get into a groove,” the lefty stated about those relief outings. “My first inning was always my harder inning earlier in the season, so I adjusted some things in warmups and made sure in the first inning that I was ready to go.” 

Braden Quinn, UConn baseball player

Surrendering a solo shot in the sixth on July 15 against the Valley Blue Sox, Quinn headed off toward Danbury’s dugout with his team down 3-0 and the same expected outcome looming above him. Even with the Hat City playing four games in three days, things suddenly changed. 

Shut out through the first five frames and scoring no more than three runs in all but one game the southpaw had pitched up to that point, the Westerners’ bats erupted with back-to-back-to-back home runs as part of a seven-run inning at Rogers Park. 

“For the offense to pull through in the bottom of the sixth, it was awesome,” the southpaw noted after that contest. 

Andrew Castelluccio’s three-inning save and Danbury’s dynamic defense did the rest of the heavy lifting for a 10-5 victory and Quinn’s first-ever win in a Hat City uniform. Not even 24 hours later, the positive punches kept rolling as the junior lefty became one of nine pitchers and six Westerners who earned a spot on the NECBL All-Star West Division team. 

“It meant everything,” the New Fairfield native explained. “Having the respect of other teams trying to get into the All-Star Game really means a lot.” 

Unlike “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners—the song played after every Danbury home victory—or “Rude” by Magic!, Quinn’s winning ways were not a one-hit wonder. Nothing could have possibly topped his Mayor’s Cup-clinching performance against the Bristol Blues at Muzzy Field on July 26, but the Westerners’ All-Star followed that up with an incredible NECBL postseason debut. Quinn’s six shutout innings against the second-seeded Vermont Mountaineers at Montpelier Recreation Field inched seventh-seeded Danbury one step closer to an upset, a feat accomplished with a 15-1 blowout at home the next night. 

“Vermont has always been [near the] top of the league the past two years,” the lefty said. “Taking them down in the first round was awesome.” 

Mowing down hitters for nine straight weeks, Quinn became one of two Westerners on the All-NECBL First Team. Alongside Penn State All-Star closer Anthony Steele, the junior southpaw sported a 2.45 ERA and finished second in the league in regular-season strikeouts behind the Mainers’ Seamus Barrett. 

“Last year, I felt like sometimes I would not get those putaway pitches,” Quinn stated about what improved. “Winning games is important; keeping runs off the board is important; but then having that strikeout tool is really cool.” 

Between the hours-long bus rides, bonding with teammates in the bullpen, waiting on the mound multiple times to toss that next pitch and the postseason, the lefty became Danbury’s ace. While the road ahead remains uncertain, the All-NECBL First Team selection expressed his gratitude for his two memorable Slambury summers. 

“Thank you, Westerners fans,” Quinn remarked. “The staff, the volunteers, the fans—it is unbelievable here.” 

Recently pitching on the Hook C’s Scout Day on Sept. 8, the 6-foot-3 junior has two years of eligibility remaining. With most of the roster back from the 2023 season and a handful of incoming transfers with winning experience, Quinn believes UConn has the pieces to be a national contender and achieve one goal. 

“Get back to where we were, that super regional,” the southpaw noted. “We can do it again.” 

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