08/28/2008 2:22 PM
End of Season Report
Cape Cod Baseball League fans were treated to one of the more exciting years in recent memory. Our season started off with a spectacular celebration in Wareham when we all saluted John Wylde with a night in his honor. All teams and league officials participated in on-field ceremonies to salute and applaud the accomplishments of Mr. Wylde of the Wareham Gatemen for the past 25 years of unselfish and dedicated service. It was truly a remarkable night and one none of us will ever forget.
Our season progressed with a unique level of parity. All teams were bunched closely in both the Eastern and Western Division for the entire season. A small winning or losing streak could take any given team from last to first place or vice versa almost overnight.
The All-Star Game in Chatham in late July turned out to be a spectacular event. Over 8,600 fans attended the contest that was broadcast live on the New England Sports Network (NESN). The West took what appeared to be a commanding 6-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, and then things changed dramatically. The East scored seven runs on two home runs, one by Grant Green of Chatham to tie things, and then a two run home run by Harwich catcher Mark Fleury of Harwich to ice the game. More on catcher Fleury coming up in the playoffs.
As we came down the homestretch of the regular season, playoff contention was up for grabs. Nine of our ten teams were still in the playoff hunt on the next to last day of the season. When the dust settled, Cotuit had won the West, but Bourne and Falmouth were tied and needed to have a “play-in” game to determine who would face Cotuit in the Western Division playoffs. Falmouth prevailed in a close contest and took on a hot Cotuit Kettleer squad, who subsequently went on to win the Western Division playoffs two games to one.
The Orleans Cardinals built a comfortable first place lead throughout the summer in the Eastern Division and held on to win the East. The Harwich Mariners prevailed into second place and reached the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Harwich and Orleans locked up in a dandy playoff series with Harwich winning in two straight. The second game featured an 18-inning marathon that Harwich won 1-0. This game set a CCBL record for innings in a playoff game and the pitching and defense in this game was absolutely extraordinary.
Harwich marched into the finals against Cotuit who enjoyed the home field advantage. But the red-hot Mariners exploded for a 10-0 lead in game one by the fifth inning and coasted to an 11-2 victory. Harwich would now return home and have a shot at winning their first CCBL championship in 21 years. Cotuit held a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and it looked like we were headed back to Cotuit for the third and final game. Not so fast. Harwich rallied and the same Mark Fleury that we mentioned earlier from the All-Star Game hit a pinch-hit single up the gap in right center to score the tying and winning runs and sending the 6,100+ fans into an absolute frenzy. Fleury and teammate Jason Stidham shared MVP honors. Stidham, the number nine hitter in game one tied a CCBL record by having 7 RBI’s in that game alone. Harwich had won their first CCBL championship since 1987 before a very formidable and classy Cotuit squad.
So we started off the 2008 campaign with a bang in Wareham and ended up the season in Harwich by accomplishing every little boy’s dream, winning the championship at home in the bottom of the ninth. Our league enjoyed huge crowds and a festive atmosphere nightly. League officials and team administrators were delighted and absolutely in awe with the continued performance of so many dedicated and sincere volunteers who give of their time tirelessly. Our fan base continues to grow with loyal spectators, supporters, family and sponsors humbling us with their unabashed loyalty to the product that we are all so proud of.
We have already started the planning for 2009 and realize our first game in June is less than 10 months away. Enjoy your winter and please stay in touch with us. We cannot thank you enough for being such a significant factor in making this the best collegiate summer baseball league in America. We appreciate it more than we can express. THANK YOU!
-Paul A. Galop, Commissioner