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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Boston Red Sox scout Scrivines playing ‘Moneyball’ at helm of Quinnipiac men’s cross country

Quinnipiac+mens+cross+country+head+coach+David+Scrivines+poses+in+his+office+ahead+of+the+Bobcats+season+opener+in+September.
Cameron Levasseur
Quinnipiac men’s cross country head coach David Scrivines poses in his office ahead of the Bobcats’ season opener in September.

Nine years later, David Scrivines still vividly recalls the phone call.

He was on Long Island, watching the Atlantic Baseball League’s Long Island Ducks battle the Camden Riversharks in Central Islip — an inconsequential early August game in an inconsequential 2015 season for the Ducks. And then Rich Hill stepped on the mound.

Long Island threatened to be the end of the road for Hill, then 35, after a decade in the majors. But those threats proved empty when he took the field.

He struck out 14 batters over six scoreless innings that day — enough to prompt Scrivines, then in his seventh season as the Independent League Scouting Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox, to give his boss a call.

“I remember picking up the phone and calling him and saying, ‘This guy doesn’t belong here, he can help us right now,’” Scrivines said.

Scrivines, now in his 15th season with the Red Sox, leans forward in his chair thinking back to that game.

But the office that chair occupies is nowhere near Jersey Street, nowhere near the famed Fenway Park where Hill delivered three 10-strikeout starts in 2015.

It’s in the Recreation and Wellness Center at Quinnipiac University, a roughly 12-by-15-foot box sandwiched between a laundry room and the acrobatics and tumbling locker room in a hallway most forget exist. It’s fitting, because in addition to his baseball duties, Scrivines is at the helm of a program most at Quinnipiac forget exists: men’s cross country.

The team was once a regional power, winning four NEC titles in a five-year span from 2004-08. After Quinnipiac joined the MAAC in 2013, that success faded into oblivion.

In the past decade, the Bobcats have finished in the top five at the conference meet twice: a third place finish in 2014 and a fourth place finish in 2018. In every other season, they’ve placed within the bottom four.

When he took over in 2022, Scrivines was the program’s third head coach in as many years.

His arrival hasn’t righted the ship from the outset — nor was it promised to. Scrivines was given the keys to a house with the front door kicked in.

After his first season, which culminated with a second-to-last finish at NCAA regionals, Scrivines lost his best two runners — Cam Starr and Kevin Carballo — to graduation.

“Cam was a really good one and just a great team guy,” Scrivines said prior to the 2023 season. “Performance-wise … nobody’s going to run the times that he’s running.”

In 2023, Quinnipiac rostered just seven runners. For reference, MAAC Champion Iona rostered 31. Only senior Andrew Woodbine finished within the top 200 at NCAA Regionals the previous season. But Scrivines had confidence in his squad nonetheless.

“We think we’re deeper than we were last year as far as meat wise,” Scrivines said. “But ultimately with the scoring, it’s about where are we one through five, one through six, one through seven. So we feel like we’re deeper this year even though we don’t have that guy out front like we had in Cam.”

History repeated itself. The Bobcats finished 36th of 37 teams at the Northeast regional, and for the second-straight season, ninth of 11 at the MAAC Championships. Only senior Nolan Kus finished within the top 200 at the regional meet. Woodbine did not compete.

“Definitely a rollercoaster year for us,” Scrivines said in November.

Scrivines walks to the start line of the 2023 NCAA Northeast Regionals at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York. (Peyton McKenzie)

Quinnipiac’s struggles are not a story of unharnessed potential. Every Bobcat “put everything he had” into this season. It’s a matter of recruiting the talent whose “everything” will move the Bobcats toward podium contention.

“We’ve just got to keep after it on the recruiting trails, keep landing guys to build our team and then keep developing the guys that we have here,” Scrivines said.

Woodbine will return for a fifth year in 2024. Kus was up in the air on using his final year of eligibility when the season ended in Nonvember. Senior James Kiernan will graduate this spring, leaving the Bobcats with five returners for next fall. The task of replacing them is fit for a scout — good thing Quinnipiac has one.

“He really tries to look at the full picture of the player,” said Harrison Slutsky, Red Sox director of professional scouting. “Not just the onfield talent, but where they’ve come from, what their track record has been, what improvements they have made, how they are in the clubhouse, how they are as a teammate, how they are off the field and their work habits.

“He does a really nice job of synthesizing it to get a clear picture of what the Red Sox would be getting if we signed that player.”

There are few fundamental parallels between cross country and baseball. The five tools a scout looks for in baseball can be reduced to one, maybe two when evaluating a distance runner. Still, Scrivines said, it’s the intangibles that bring the sports together.

“One thing that’s really important is whether its scouting or recruiting is (looking) beyond the 5k times of a high school runner or beyond Baseball Reference,” Scrivines said. “It’s like ‘who would be a good fit,’ and there’s all sorts of ways that that can take place.

“The academics are important, the team culture is important, the recruit’s interest level, all that stuff is important just like in baseball … It’s easy to see the numbers, but then learning the backstory. We know what a high school runner is running right now, the question is: what’s that runner going to do two, three, four years from now?”

It’s one thing to know who you want to recruit, it’s another to go out and get the athletes. Scrivines’ first recruiting class with Quinnipiac in 2023 was a single runner: freshman Michael Strain.

To his credit, Strain was a top-three runner for the Bobcats in the late fall, but his development alone can’t propel the team forward. He fits into a larger picture of Scrivines’ vision for the future of the program, which starts with depth.

“We’re going to need more depth than where we are right now,” Scrivines said. “But we feel like that’ll happen over time, and then it’s about like, OK so we’ve got to get the depth and then we’ve got to get more front end runners.”

The problem with securing those front-end runners — or any runners for that matter — comes down to one simple fact about Quinnipiac cross country: it’s just cross country. Quinnipiac has no men’s track and field team. It was axed with men’s golf in a sweeping round of budgetary cuts and ensuing Title IX lawsuit in 2009 that saved the volleyball program and ended with the school adding acrobatics and tumbling, women’s golf and rugby.

“It cuts that recruiting pool in half of the people that need track,” Scrivines said. “So there’s pros and cons, but we’re going to tell the recruits all the pros.”

Despite not being championship-eligible, Quinnipiac still competes in several meets during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, making the disparity minimal for those in the program.

“I was definitely more of a track guy coming into it, but it didn’t seem to bother me that much because we still run a good four, five meets in spring track,” Kus said. “So I feel like you still get that track season even though on paper, technically, we don’t have a track team.”

It’s not an unfamiliar position for Scrivines, who was previously the head coach of both the men’s and women’s cross country teams at Fairfield, one of two MAAC schools besides Quinnipiac without men’s track. His job is to leverage what may seem like a major con into the reason a runner commits.

“We pitch the whole like, ‘What are the advantages of cross country only?’” Scrivines said. “And its less injury rates, lower burnout rates, after our season we can take the recovery time in November and December that we need … and then there’s the academic piece where hey, ‘We’re not traveling as much,’ all that stuff.”

Quinnipiac men’s cross country huddles ahead of the 2023 NCAA Northeast Regionals at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York. (Peyton McKenzie)

And the atmosphere that Scrivines has created in his short tenure gives another boost to the one-dimensional program.

“He kind of brings a fun light to the sport. Under no coach have I enjoyed running as much as I do under coach Scrivines,” Kus said. “He really makes me enjoy it. He’s tough on us, (but) he knows what to do.”

Quinnipiac will not skyrocket to success overnight. It will see the bottom of the MAAC long before it sees the top. But with time and new talent, Scrivines is hopeful his team will get there.

“It’s a process. It’s going to take a little while. But we’re just trying to each year build and keep building and we’ll get there eventually,” Scrivines said. “We’re making improvement. It’s a little bit slower right now, but I think with a couple of good recruiting classes that we anticipate in the next couple of years, we’ll keep climbing.”

With the groundwork laid in his first two years in Hamden, Scrivines has his eyes toward the top of the mountain, and the runners he’ll have to recruit to get there. It’s a question of who will go the first mile — and where they will come from.

Maybe Scrivines will find the answer on another sunny day on Long Island.

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Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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