St. Charles East alumnus Dan Ditusa recently got a chance to exhale from a busy summer schedule. The Seton Hall junior left-hander balanced pitching in the Metro Collegiate Baseball League of Illinois with helping on the staff of former East boys basketball coach Brian Clodi’s training academy. Ditusa also watches his share of baseball, as his family houses former Seton Hall teammate Giuseppe Papaccio, a Cougars infielder. Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Kevin Druley caught up with Ditusa about his agenda and other topics in the latest edition of the Weekend Chit-chat. Here’s an edited transcript:
What were the circumstances of your family housing Giuseppe as a Cougars host family?
After the senior class graduates you’re not sure if you’re going to see any of those guys anymore. It was just cool that G was fortunate enough to get drafted, and the place he got drafted he was called up pretty quick. I didn’t want to see him living with someone he didn’t know and told him we lived close to Fifth Third [Bank Ballpark], and we’d be happy to have him. … A lot of the guys live around New Jersey when we’re at school and extend invitations to me around the holidays, so I just wanted to kind of return the favor.
He’s mentioned you both were pretty good friends before.
We had a lot in common right off the bat, similar injuries growing up. You know, everybody on the team is close, and we’re best buds. He and I have a lot in common in particular, and we kept in touch the entire way. He’s one of my good friends, and we became closer this year.
You got to play at the home of the Cougars yourself when your summer league All-Star team played Team USA [the collegiate national team] last month. How was that?
Everybody got to throw an inning, pretty much. It was cool because we got to play some great schools this year, and even the guys on teams we hadn’t seen at Seton Hall, you see on TV, so it’s an awesome experience. .. I had an opportunity to get out of a jam with a double play but it didn’t happen. But it was a good experience this summer. It gave me good competition and an idea of what I have to work on still.
What have you learned about pitching in two seasons of college ball?
From high school, it’s changed a lot. You can’t get away with throwing it down the middle as hard as you can. I learned the hard way. At the start, everything I threw, those guys were ready for. But my pitching coach, Phil Cundari, he really was fantastic in helping me. … To think that four years ago I was a little high schooler thinking about playing college basketball. I didn’t realize that the 6-foot white kid wasn’t going to cut it in college. Coach Cundari didn’t give up on me, believed in me when I was doing well, believed in me when I was doing poorly. He has helped me and I know I have a lot to prove this year.
You’ve still got some game on the court, though, after helping at coach Clodi’s basketball academy, right?
We just finished our last day [Thursday]. When I used to go to those, we all had high school kids there and they were knowledgeable and they were fine, but we never had any college athletes who had been there before. …. [Clodi] is more relatable than anyone else. He and I work real well together. We’ve been best friends for the last few years. I loved working with him. It was a blast. I just wanted to be able to help him and the kids.
A vast majority of your Seton Hall teammates are from the northeast. How are you liking that part of the country?
It’s been a good experience. It’s a whole different culture out there. It’s close to New York City; the big differences between Chicago and New York City, you could list those forever. … It’s been a nice change. I get happy, though, the few months I’m at home. I really enjoy it.
How often do you see former East ballplayers or get out to campus?
I’m always over at the baseball field, just throwing long toss and bullpens and doing cage work. I’ve been throwing with Nick Huskisson and Wes Benjamin pretty regularly. I communicate with coach [Len] Asquini just to make sure I’m able to use the field and good to go out there. … Even though I’m not playing anymore, even though my summer season is over, I’m still trying to compete.