Ashburn Pitcher Spends Summer in the Hamptons
Sean Cabrera aims to hone his strikeout skills with the Riverhead Tomcats.
When Sean Cabrera holds a baseball and stands on the mound, he repeats a pensive habit.
"I look at the ground to see if my feet are positioned correctly," said the left-handed pitcher from Ashburn. Whether a quick glance or a pause of a few seconds, the habit helps him control the game’s tempo.
“I have been doing it since high school,” he explained. "It lets me know I dictate the pace of the game ... to be in control, to be in the driver's seat. I am a guy who loves to compete."
Cabrera, whose family lives in Farmwell Hunt, spend June and will spend July 335 miles northeast of Ashburn. He's living with a host family about 70 miles east of New York City and pitching for the Riverhead Tomcats in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball league.
A rising junior at George Mason University, the 20-year-old Cabrera is working to boost his skills for the game he loves.
"I want to improve all four of my pitches and, hopefully, gain a couple of miles per hour velocity," he said. "And to get stronger for the fall."
In the first 21 Riverhead games, Cabrera made 10 appearances. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder shows a 1-0 record and a 3.09 earned run average. His control has been impressive – 14 strikeouts and only two walks.
"Sean is a competitor. He works hard," said Riverhead head coach Randy Caden. "He's definitely a team player. He's a lefty, one of our top guns."
Cabrera yearns for the opportunity to challenge opposing hitters. For the first time, he's facing college players from many different teams.
"It's like two boxers in a ring – who's going to throw the first knockout punch," he said. "If I fail, it means I have something to work on. If I succeed, I achieved what I set out to do."
Cabrera began playing T-ball, machine pitch and Little League at the Crittenden Park and other Ashburn fields. He attended St. Theresa Catholic School before spending three years in Asia. He went to the Singapore American School while his father, Jose, worked as a computer software executive.
When Cabrera returned to northern Virginia, he moved up to Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington.
For two seasons (2007-8), he was the starting quarterback for Coach Steve Trimble and he recently recalled the last game of his sophomore season. He threw a game-winning touchdown pass with three minutes remaining for a 25-23 victory over O'Connell's biggest rival, Paul VI Catholic High of Fairfax.
Cabrera also threw a TD pass in that game to his older brother, Nick.
For the 2009 O'Connell baseball team and coach Rick Hart, Cabrera sparkled with 15 strikeouts to highlight a shutout victory over Bishop Ireton of Arlington.
His three brothers also all play sports. Besides Nick, Joseph played for the O'Connell varsity basketball team and Matthew runs cross country for Broad Run High School.
Cabrera, who worked at the Red Robin restaurant on Yukon Road last summer, said he's motivated to make his parents, Vicki and Jose, proud.
"Mediocre is just as bad as losing," he said. "I want to put all the effort, all the desire out there; so you have no regrets. You're not saying, ‘Maybe if I had worked harder the results could have been different.’"
Cabrera stopped playing football as a high school senior to concentrate on baseball.
He joined the George Mason program as a walk-on. This past spring, as the Patriots finished 21-32-1, he pitched in 21 games with a 2-0 record. He owned GMU's third-best ERA (4.29).
This summer, Cabrera may get chances to pitch against his college roommate, Brandon Kuter. Kuter’s from Robinson High in Fairfax, the best closer in the Hamptons league, and he excels in relief for the Westhampton Aviators.