OCONOMOWOC — The Enterprise sat down with three Lake Country DockHounds players to discuss their experiences in Lake Country.
Tristen Carranza, Lamar Briggs and Gio Brusa aren’t from the area. They’ve never been to Lake Country, yet they found themselves planted here after signing with the DockHounds for the season.
Carranza plays outfield; he is originally from El Centro, Calif. Carranza said he played ball for New Mexico State University and has previously been signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Mexican Pacific Winter League and Pioneer League. He’s currently living with a host family in Delafield.
A newcomer to Lake Country, Carranza said he’s been looking forward to getting out on the water and paddleboarding — not that there is much spare time, Carranza said, with nearly every day of the week devoted to baseball.
The Oconomowoc area offers different scenery than the desert landscape he is most familiar with.
“It’s beautiful out here,” Carranza said, explaining that he enjoys spending time soaking in the local sights on walks through the Delafield community. He’s been enjoying food trucks in Oconomowoc for easy to-go meals.
Briggs, also an outfielder, hails from Charlotte, N.C. He played at Jackson State University and in the United Shores League prior to joining the DockHounds; Briggs is staying with his host family in Watertown.
Growing up in the city, Briggs said he has visited family in the countryside. But the wide, green fields and forests of southeastern Wisconsin have left an impression on him — as well as the hospitable nature of local residents.
He’s been making it out to local restaurants and establishments every so often, and he especially enjoys Ella’s Public House in downtown along with Amalia’s Family Restaurant and the Lumber Inn in Delafield.
Like Carranza, Briggs said he tries to take advantage of his sparse free time and makes an effort to spend time with his host family.
Still, Briggs said, it all comes down to baseball.
“It’s my first time here, but I’m here to play ball, win a bunch of games and enjoy time with my teammates,” Briggs said.
And playing ball is made easier when the fan base is visible and supportive. According to Briggs and his teammates, they know the Lake Country community supports the team. He reported seeing DockHounds lawn signs as far away as Watertown where his host family is located.
“Every time I’m in a restaurant, you hear someone talking about DockHounds, you see the signs in people’s lawns,” Briggs said. “The fans always come out, and it’s just love every day you come.”
Looking out into the stands at game time, Briggs said he recognizes the impact he and the team are having on young baseball players. It’s a thought that crosses his mind every day, he said.
His teammate Gio Brusa plays first base and stays in Oconomowoc. Minutes before speaking with the Enterprise, management informed Brusa that he’d made it onto the American Association All-Star Game roster.
Like his teammates, Brusa reported Lake Country fans have a sense of pride in their hometown team. He said people often tell him they’re looking forward to watching him and the team play at Wisconsin Brewing Company Park.
“They’ve made this place like home for us, (the fans) support us through the ups and downs of the season.”
Carranza agreed. “Thank you for welcoming us into the community,” he said, addressing Lake Country residents. “We’re coming from far places, but we can call this place home.”
Ever ready to get out and enjoy the local waters, Carranza added, “And if anyone wants to take us on a boat ride, count us in.”
According to the team roster, the DockHounds have players from all over the country and the world, including the Dominican Republic, Canada, Venezuela and Taiwan.