2001 CCBL Postseason Media Guide
2001 Season in Review
The 2001 season may go down in the 116-year-old annals of the Cape Cod Baseball League as the season of the fan. Never before had the staunch faithful crowd into game after game in such consistent numbers, and when new Cape League fans were added to the mix it served to increase total fan attendance for each individual franchise. The increase was almost 30 percent above the highly successful 2000 season.
Many things contributed to the cause of increased fan attendance, but by and large the numbers could be attributed to a broad sweeping effort on behalf of the Cape League public relations staff for “getting the word out” and not merely on a local or even regional level. Feature stories focusing on the unfettered purity of the way the game is played on Cape Cod popped up throughout the summer in national magazine and newspapers; the the league’s official web site generated well over 3 million hits alone in the months of June and July, daily radio news reports highlighted each day’s events; television crews from CNN-New York to Fox and more trekked to these sandy shores to document wood bats and a type of inexpensive family fun rarely experienced anywhere in today’s fast-paced culture. To cap it all off, Warner Brothers released its version of Cape League baseball – Summer Catch — just as the 2001 playoffs got underway in August, driving home the simple point that the Cape Cod Baseball League is above and beyond the best amateur summer collegiate baseball played from coast to coast.
While a rematch between Team USA and the Cape League all-stars was noticeably absent from the summer landscape following 2000’s brilliant fete at Chatham’s Veterans Field, the Cape League ventured to Keene, NH in late July, sending a contingent of all-star players to defend the tradition and reputation of Cape League baseball. Managed by Chatham A’s mainstay coach John Schiffner, the Cape League did itself proud by defeating the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars in a 5-2 affair before 2,500 fans.
But while his focus may have been for the moment fixed on preserving the Cape League’s reputation, Schiffner and his staff were carefully planning their culmination to the regular season. After surpassing the Y-D Red Sox in late July for first place honors in the East Division race – a surprise considering Y-D’s early-season East Division dominance and Chatham’s lackluster earl-summer performance – the A’s went full bore with their eye toward the 2001 Arnold Mycock Cape League Championship Trophy.
In the West Division, Falmouth, Bourne and Wareham grappled for playoff spots to the very end, with Wareham eventually clinching the top slot and regular-season West Division crown. It was the talented albeit fragmented Bourne Braves team – a team that had held tightly to first place through the all-star break – who found themselves almost out of it thanks to a driven and eager Falmouth Commodores squad.
Led by top stars Val Majewski (Rutgers), Jarrod Schmidt (Clemson), Ray Clark (Texas), Hunter Brown (Rice), Steve Jackson (Clemson) and Steve White (Baylor), Falmouth would not let go of its chance and hopes for second place and a shot in the Cape League semifinals. The only dilemma was that Bourne wouldn’t let go either, and in a rare, almost surreal finale to the regular season, Falmouth ended by being shut out by the Harwich Mariners and spoiler Y-D Red Sox on the same day, the day before the start of the playoffs. It helped that Wareham fell to Bourne twice in the last two days of regular season play, but any way it could be perceived, Falmouth fell in an anticlimactic fashion its fans may be wont to soon forget.
In the semifinals, Chatham made quick business of the amazing Y-D Red Sox, a team that had experienced its best season in a decade and had drawn more fans to Merrill “Red” Wilson Field than can be remembered. In like fashion, Wareham quickly disposed of Bourne, if not entirely with the help of an unfortuitously depleted Braves’ roster, then also with the aid of a complete lack of offense on Bourne’s behalf.
Wareham, once again came to the postseason boasting the league’s top regular season record and was loaded with all-star caliber players from the nation’s top collegiate baseball programs. On paper, the Gatemen appeared to be the favorites once again. The only problem was this year’s team had to exorcise formidable ghost that had haunted it from the 2000 campaign: the specter of lying down and being swept by the 21-21-2 Hyannis Mets.
Perhaps aided by his pre-game team prayers along the right field foul line before each game, 2001 Cape League Manager of the Year and CCBL rookie helmsman Cooper Farris (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) succeeded in expelling the demons that haunted Wareham from 2000, even if demons of another sort reared their collective heads in this 2001 Championship Series.
In game 1 of the Championship Series at Clem Spillane Field, neither team appeared to have a true edge over the other, until a controversial fair ball call along the leftfield foul line sparked a three-run Wareham rally and a fiery on-field argument between the umpires and the Chatham coaches and players. While Schiffner would wind up being ejected and having to serve a one-game suspension, and while Wareham ran away with game 1 having gained some impromptu momentum, the A’s returned to Veterans Field with their heads held high.The series was evened at 1-1.
What followed was another almost-bizarre turn of events, as rain threatened to postpone the CCBL title game at Wareham beyond the NCAA-mandated deadline of Aug. 15 to return all player back to their respective college programs. Rumors flew about calling it a draw, but in the end the coaches and Cape League officials would have none of it. The showdown to beat all showdowns would culminate and it would culminate on Spillane Field.
In a classic baseball setting, Baylor flamethrower Zane Carlson came into a tied ballgame, 3-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning and was throwing pure gas. Unfortunately, Liberty’s Keith Butler had a red-hot bat and ripped a single to leftfield to start things off. The next two Wareham batters made outs, but succeeded in moving Butler to third. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the score tied at 3-3, the rain drizzling down on an already rain-soaked diamond, Carlson threw strike after strike to Ball State’s Paul Henry. In the end, Henry got a piece of one and chopped it slowly down the third base line into no man’s land. Carlson sped after it but it was too late to turn and make a throw to first. Butler sped home and Wareham was crowned the 2001 Cape League Champions.
On the heels of a dismal 2000 campaign, the upstart Braves came barreling into the 2001 season with a new disposition and hunger to win. Almost incredibly, the Braves did it without benefit of a superior offense, rather, the Braves stayed atop first place in the West for the majority of the summer with pitching, pitching and more pitching.
Blessed with an amazing staff led by Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick Casey Shumaker (684th overall, 23rd round) out of Jacksonville University, Joe Blanton (Kentucky) and the eventual 2001 Outstanding Relief Pitcher Ryan Speier (Radford), Bourne closed the deal on opponent after opponent through the all-star break and looked to be the team to beat for the West Division Regular season title.
But following the all-star game on July 21, just days after shattering the all-time Cape League record for saves (16), Speier departed for the minors after signing with the Colorado Rockies. Without their 6’7” closer, the Braves did everything they could to hold things together. By season’s end, with a ravaged roster and team unity slowly crumbling, the Braves did all they could to beat Wareham in the season’s final two games. Combined with two losses by Falmouth on the last day of the regular season, the Braves had made it.
First-year manager Spencer Graham (VMI), beleaguered and already publicly open about not returning for 2002, headed to the playoffs with a tired staff and an offense that ranked second to last (.198-team batting average). Facing a very unified Wareham team that played with one goal in mind – the league title – Bourne stood little chance, it seemed, to pull off yet another miracle. Still, even though Wareham made quick business of the Braves in game one of the semifinals at Spillane Field, the Braves’ headed to the top of the ninth inning at Coady Field in game two with a 1-0 lead. Without Speier, though, all-star righty Mike Dennison (Wichita State) was forced to go the distance. Wareham picked up a pair of runs and the Gatemen closed things in the bottom of the ninth.
Shumaker signed with the Pirates two weeks after the close of the season, finishing with a 6-2 record and a 1.19 ERA. He collected 62 Ks in 60 innings of work. Speier, who departed after the all-star game, did not allow an earned run in 20 appearances and ended with 16 saves, the most-ever by a Bourne pitcher or any other relief man in the Cape League history.
Blanton, who led the league in strikeouts with 77, was dominant throughout the summer, earning Coca Cola Pitcher of the Week honors in Week 2. He also led the league in innings pitched (68). The Braves’ staff finished third in the league in ERA (2.33) and second in Ks (387). Dennison and all-star Matt Brown (Cal-Berkeley) led the league in games pitched at 29 and 23, respectively
After capturing the Arnold Mycock Trophy in 2000, the Whitecaps struggled to play .500 ball in the second half of the ‘01 season. In the thick of the playoff race through the second week of July, field manager Billy Jones and his players often played the role of spoiler during the waning weeks of the season.
Offensively, the Whitecaps were led by outfielder Matt Carson (BYU) who hit .269 with 10 RBI. Third basemen Brian Barden (Oregon State) hit .248 while outfielder Jonathan Schuerholz finished the season at .243. The Auburn University sophomore, who is an infielder for his college team, also recorded a team high 12 stolen bases. Rounding out the top hitters was All Star Danny Matienzo (.230) who was the East’s starting designated hitter at the Sprint PCS All Star game. Matienzo (U.Miami), who split his time between DH and catcher, was also named to the Cape League Select Team which faced off against the NECBL in late July. RBI leaders were Chris Hamblen (Cincinnati) and Matthew Maniscalco (Mississippi State) with 16 a piece. Overall the Whitecaps hit .219 as a team. The hard-hitting Hamblen was ranked #17 on Baseball America’s Top 30 Cape League Prospects list.
On the mound, Coach Jones’ staff posted a 3.08 era. Leading the corps was second- year pitcher Ryan Gloger (Stanford) who was among the league’s top 25 pitchers. In 10 games, Gloger, was the workhorse of the staff with 57.2 innings pitched and was 3-3 with a team high 47 K’s and a 2.03 era. Although he didn’t pitch enough innings to be listed among the league’s leading pitchers, Brad David (LSU) posted an impressive 1.56 era with three saves and 44 strikeouts, which was second only to Gloger on the team. Not surprisingly, David was named to Baseball America’s Top 30 list at #25. Also having a strong season for the Whitecaps was Courtney Hall (UNLV). Hall who in his 5 starts through July 6 was 3-0 with just 7 earned runs, finished the season at 3-3 with a 3.23 era. Ryan Olsen (UNLV/Oakhurst, CA), a second year man, signed a MLB contract.
It was quite a year both on and off the field for the Chatham Athletics. On the field, the A’s posted an impressive 25-19-0 record, good for a tie for the East Division regular season title. They then went on to capture the East Division championship in two games before advancing to the final game of the League Championships. En route to yet another great season, the team won 25 or more games for the 18th time, made its 7th straight post-season appearance and 25th post-season appearance overall. All this and more as coaching and organization milestones were set as well. Meanwhile off the field, a Warner Brother’s movie, “Summer Catch” was released with the A’s and the league as the focus of the romantic comedy.
With so many things going on for Chatham, July 31st is one day that may stand out above others when the A’s and fans look back on 2001. With a 2-0 victory over Falmouth at Veterans Field, Chatham not only clinched a playoff spot, but the franchise recorded its 900th victory since the league was reorganized in 1963, and 9-year coach John Schiffner notched his 200th victory.
To say that the A’s won on ‘01 with clutch hitting and a starting pitching staff that held on to give way to a very strong middle and late relief pitching corps wouldn’t be an understatement. As a team the A’s hit .220; which put them sixth overall. On the mound, the staff hurled an impressive 2.59 - which was only good for 7th in the league.
At the plate was a group of young players who took some time to adjust to the wooden bats, but once they did, they came on strong - much as the team did as it won 7 of its last 10 games to clinch a playoff spot. Leading the charge was second baseman Mike McCoy (San Diego). The East All Star hit .283 (10th in the league), led the league in on base percentage (.425), scored 25 runs (3rd in league) and was also tied for the league lead with 23 stolen bases. McCoy saw action in 42 regular season games - 40 of these at second. Also welding a hot bat for much of the season was Adam Greenberg (UNC) who hit .269 for the A’s. Meanwhile, hitting their stride mid-season were Michigan State’s Bobby Malek (.263, 18 RBI) and North Carolina frosh, Jeremy Cleveland (.252, team high 22 RBI). Malek and McCoy were named to the league’s Final All Star team.
On the hill, North Carolina freshman Daniel Moore led the pack with a 5-2 mark and 1.02 era - tied for 2nd in the league. In 44 innings (7 starts) of work, he struck out 46 and walked 20. Other starters key in the team’s success were Rich McGuire (Delaware), 5-3, 2.68, Ben Clayton (Wake Forest), 1-1, 2.25, and Frasier Dizard (USC), 1-2, 2.88.
Coach Shiffner had the luxury of two arms who could start or relieve in Brad Ziegler (Southwest Missouri State) and Corey Hamman (Monclair State). Ziegler posted a 3-1 mark with a 1.96 era in 9 games, four of which were starts. Hamman was 5-3 with one save and a 4.06 era, with the starting nod in three games.
In relief, the A’s turned to Zane Carlson (Baylor) and second year man, David Bush (Wake Forest). Bush continued his assault on Cape League hitters in 2001 as he posted a 1-1 mark with 1 save, allowing just 1 earned run, 3 walks, 35 strikeouts and just 13 hits in 26.2 innings pitched. An East and Cape League Select All Star, he struck out the side against the NECBL on 10 pitches. Bush, not surprisingly, was named the Second Top Prospect by Baseball America as well as a Final All Star team member. Meanwhile his cohort in relief Carlson saved 12 games in 20 appearances and struck out 26 in 22 innings. The 12 saves earned him a spot in the league record books.
While the perennial West Division contender Kettleers felt the sharp pangs of last place for the bulk of the 2001 campaign, fifth-year manager Mike Coutts’ boys would not go down without a fight, winning 10 of their last 11 games and nine in a row. Cotuit finished in fourth place at a respectable .500.
Earning himself the Daniel J. Silva Sportsmanship Award, USC first baseman Bill Peavey led the Kettleer offense with a .288 clip, five home runs and 22 RBI. He finished second in total hits to all-star second baseman Brent Metheny (James Madison) who had 41 hits and finished at .256 on the summer. Other Kettleer all-stars included Stanford’s Chris O’Riordan (.236) and 6’5” righty flamethrower Kyle Sleeth (Wake Forest) who ended at 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA.
Under Coutts’ tutelage, the Kettleers made the playoffs two out five seasons, earning playoff berths and league championship titles in 1995 and 1999. Interestingly, Coutt’s 1996 squad went 23-19-2 but finished in third place and out of playoff contention.
And while this year’s squad finished at 20-20-4, Cotuit ended sweeping 2001 league champion Wareham, 5-0 during the regular season, and tossed in a tie to boot.
A more respectable, winning regular-season campaign could not land Jeff Trundy’s boys into the playoffs in 2001, as Falmouth finished the regular season just one point in the standings behind the Bourne Braves (23-18-3). Even when virtually every fan and official figured the Commodores as a lock for the postseason, it was left to an almost surreal twist of fate that Falmouth found itself eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the regular season.
With Bourne facing the first place Wareham Gatemen in the season’s last two games – one home, one away – and Falmouth ahead of Bourne while having to make up games versus the second-to-last place Harwich Mariners and the first-place Y-D Red Sox, it appeared there were just too many possible scenarios that would place the Commodores in the playoffs. Had Bourne lost either game, even if Falmouth lost both of its two remaining games, the Commodores were in. Instead, Falmouth faced playing both games away on the same day and lost both. Bourne beat Wareham twice. Bourne took second place by one point and the shockwaves could almost be heard from Guv Fuller Field to Eldredge Park.
Regardless, the Commodores staged their best-season to date under Trundy’s tutelage, and it showed virtually everywhere Cape League fans congregated over the course of the summer. Rice University star infielder Hunter Brown (.295) was dominant all season long among the top batsmen, garnering a starting all-star slot. Clemson’s Jarrod Schmidt (.292) also attained all-star status, finishing up close behind teammate Brown in the top 10 Cape League hitters of 2001. The Commodores placed Coca Cola Player or Pitcher of Week Finalists three weeks out of a possible eight, with Baylor righty Steve White garnering the first Pitcher of the Week honors of the season. Texas righty Ray Clark (3-1, 1.31 ERA) followed suit with Pitcher of the Week honors in Week 6, proving an unexpected albeit invaluable asset to the staff as it wound its way through the all-star break. Outfielder-extraordinaire Jon Kaplan (Tulane) proved no slouch with the hardwood as he turned it on in the season’s final week hitting .423 (11-for-26) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and four RBI. As a team, Falmouth would finish at .233, good enough for third best in the league. On the hill, the Commodore hurlers combined to possess the third best team ERA at 2.33, led by Clark’s stingy 1.31 tally. Kaplan and Brown would later both be named as final team All-Star selections.
Falmouth did itself equally proud as a community, hosting the 2001 Sprint PCS Cape League All-Star Game at Elmer “Guv” Fuller Field before a crowd of 3,500 crowd on a gorgeous July 21 Saturday afternoon. Managed by Commodore GM Chuck Sturtevant and his all-star committee, the event was a great success, as the all-stars were honored in a fabulous pre-game brunch at the Flying Bridge Restaurant overlooking Falmouth Inner Harbor.
While the Harwich Mariners struggled in the league standings, there was plenty for Cape League and Mariner fans to cheer about, including finishing the season with five final week wins, three of which were against playoff bound teams.
Statistically speaking, the Mariners struggled to make the adjustment to wooden bats. While Harwich finished last in the league in hitting (.195) they did have some players more than hold their own with the wood. Leading the way was Matt Davis (Virginia Commonwealth) who played in all 44 games. He hit .247 with 13 RBI, which tied him for the best run producer on the field for the team. The outfielder was also a threat on the basepaths as he recorded 20 thefts, 4th overall in the league. Right behind was Pat Boran (Princeton) who finished at .238 in 41 games. The third baseman also stole 11. New Englander Jeff Mackor (Salem, NH/Boston College) hit .216 in 39 games and saw action behind the plate in 34 (led league) of those.
While the team struggled in hitting, the pitching staff was one of the best in the league; no surprise as Field Manager Buddy Custer is known for his pitching expertise. Overall the staff posted a 2.23 era - second in the league.
Joe Saunders (Virginia Tech) and Luke Robertson (Kansas State) were two of the many reasons the pitching was so successful. Saunders, who was named the seventh best Cape League Prospect by Baseball America was also named the starter for the East squad at the Sprint PCS game. He was 4-3 with a 1.02 era (tied for 2nd) and 61 strikeouts in 53 innings. Robertson, a towering presence on and off the mound, was 3-3 with one save, a 1.46 era and 59 strikeouts. Also having strong seasons were Matt Lynch (Florida State) who was 3-2 with a 1.59 era and Princeton’s Ryan Quillian who was 2-1 and a 3.38 era.
The 2001 Hyannis Mets were unable to duplicate their 2000 success as league runners-up, but they still managed an entertaining season with numerous achievements.
The big bats were the story at McKeon Field, with the Mets hitting a league-high 24 home runs. Leading the onslaught was Georgia Tech first baseman Jason Perry, whose eight home runs, three triples, and .538 slugging percentage were all league-best marks. Florida State returnee Ryan Barthelemy was fourth in the league in hitting (.310) - placing him in the Top 10 for the second straight season. Barthelemy chipped in five home runs and tied for the league lead with 11 doubles. Also making an impact in his second season with the Mets was Notre Dame right fielder Brian Stavisky. This fan favorite had four homers, a .263 average, and 10 doubles. Another dominant force was Clemson’s athletic center fielder, Kyle Frank, who led the Mets with 12 steals while playing his position spotlessly and racking up eight outfield assists.
On the mound, the Mets’ starting rotation was anchored by veteran righty Justin Taylor of Baylor University. J.T. had a 3.59 ERA while leading the team in innings pitched and posting a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 6.5. He represented the Mets at the All-Star Game along with southpaw reliever Kevin Ool (Marist), who had an ERA of 1.86 to go along with four saves.
Several unusual Cape League records also went to the Mets. At one point, the pitching staff went 28 2/3 innings without issuing a walk, shattering the previous record. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the hit-by-pitch was a recurring stat throughout the season. Travis Teeter tied an unfortunate record by plunking four Cotuit Kettleers in a single game on June 14. On the opposite end of the ball, Mets catcher Ryan Garko tied the single game record after being hit three times against the Y-D Red Sox on Aug. 4. Garko was found by the ball 14 times during the season, which was good enough for a Hyannis record. ~Will Bussiere
The Cardinals’ 2001 season got off to a fast start with a 7-3 record after the first ten games, but the team then settled down for the long haul before being eliminated from playoff contention by the first of August.
2B Russ Adams of North Carolina (.281-2-12) hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning to give Orleans a come-from-behind victory in the season opener, and he never looked back on his way to winning the league’s Robert A. McNeese Award for Outstanding Pro Prospect (the same award won by the Cardinals’ Mark Teixiera of Georgia Tech in 1999). Adams led the league in stolen bases (23, including home, twice) and was second in at bats (71) hits (48) and runs (27); defensively he participated in a league-leading 20 double plays. Duke’s Larry Broadway (.264-6-27), the league’s premier first baseman who led in all major defensive categories, was among league leaders in runs (4th, 23), total bases (3rd, 68), RBIs (2nd, 27) base on balls (3rd, 23) home runs (2nd, 6) and slugging percentage (5th, .428). C Troy Caradonna, Broadway’s Duke teammate, had the league’s fifth highest batting average (.301) while Washington RF Tyler Davidson (.226-1-13) tied for most double plays participated in by an outfielder (3). Also notable was Army’s Brad Scioletti of Hyannis, who played in nine early season games, hit .280 and led the league in on base percentage (.500) before returning to West Point.
The pitching staff got solid performances from Scott Autry of North Carolina (2-2, 2.83), Jason Baker of George Washington (3-1, 2.33), Cal Berkeley’s Trevor Hutchinson (3-3, 1.47), Matt Incinelli of North Florida (0-2, 2.65) and closer Andy Hutchings of College of Charleston (2-1, 2.25) who tied for third in saves (6).
Orleans was represented on the winning East All-Stars by Adams, Broadway, Caradonna and Davidson, and Adams was named the game’s MVP, hitting a 3-run homer in the 6th inning. Adams and Broadway were members of the CCBL All-Star team that beat the NECBL All-Stars 5-2 in Keene, NH; both hit home runs while Broadway won the home run hitting contest with 13 and was the game’s MVP. The final CCBL All-Star team included Adams, Broadway and Caradonna, and Baseball America named Adams and Broadway to their Summer League All American first team and Top Prospects list.
Field Manager Don Norris began the season by replacing four players plucked off the roster by Team USA, and then watched as two dozen former Cardinals were selected in the MLB draft, including three first rounders and a total of 18 in the first 20 rounds. The Cardinals recorded their 800th franchise win in the “modern” (collegiate) era on June 20, and Norris notched his 100th CCBL victory on July 30, the 25th CCBL field manager to reach that mark. At the end of the season, Don announced his retirement in order to accept the position of Director of Baseball Operations at his alma mater, University of Georgia, and the Cardinals selected Carmen Carcone (Dowling College), Don’s assistant in ‘98-’99 to head the team. ~sh
Gatemen Head Coach Cooper Farris made a smooth transition from leading the Harrisonburg Turks to the Shenandoah Valley League Championship in 2000 to duplicating the same for the Wareham Gatemen in the CCBL in 2001. His performance earned him the CCBL Manager of the Year Award as voted by his fellow head coaches.
The 2001 Gatemen opened the regular season with a 2-4 record, won two of the next three, and then won 8 in a row to firmly establish themselves as a factor in the West Division race. Their 25-18-1 final record nipped Bourne by two points for the West Division title, and led Chatham and Yarmouth-Dennis by one point for the overall best record.
In the playoffs, the Gatemen defeated Bourne two games to none, featuring Mike Galloway’s two out, 0-2 count, two RBI single to center in the top of the ninth inning to win the second game of the series at Bourne, 2-1. Paul Henry’s two out, 0-2 count, RBI infield single scored Keith Butler - who had opened the inning with his third single of the game - thus winning the championship game before an enthusiastic home crowd at Spillane Field - as Wareham edged Chatham two games to one for the CCBL title. It was the Gatemen’s fourth championship since the league expanded to ten teams in 1988.
Coincidentally, when Wareham last won the championship in 1997, the winning pitcher was Ryan Harber from Butler University. The winning pitcher in the final playoff game this year was Pat Neshek, the next Butler player to wear the Gatemen uniform.
Wareham pitching was the key to the team’s success. Both the 2001 team ERA at 1.84 and the runs allowed at 120 were the lowest recorded since the 1988 expansion. In addition, Bourne and Chatham were limited to only 9 runs scored in five playoff games.
Chris Leonard (Miami/Ohio) led the league with a 0.98 era and a 6-0 record. His six wins tied for the league lead. He struck out 64 while allowing only 11 walks. His exploits won the CCBL Outstanding Pitcher Award. Ben Crockett finished second overall with 74 strikeouts, three complete games and a 1.67 era. He pitched extremely well in the playoffs and was selected by the general managers as the winner of the first John. J. Claffey Award for outstanding performance by a New England player. (Claffey was a former Gatemen GM). Both Russ Bayer (4-1, 1.80 era) and Clark Girardeau (4-2, 2.35 era) were key members of the starting rotation down the stretch. Pat Neshek (4-2, 0.41 era, 6 saves) was the ace out of the bullpen.
The offense also had more than it’s share of award winners, as the Gatemen led the league in hitting at .261. Matt Murton (GA Tech) was selected as MVP of the league, finishing second in the batting race at .324 and with a perfect 19-for-19 stolen bases. Murton also led the league with 28 RBI and finished third with a .399 on base percentage. The CCBL batting title was won by Eric Reed (Texas A&M) at .365, 41 points ahead of Murton. Reed also led with 61 hits and 29 runs scored. His speed (22 SB) and bunting ability led to teams playing their first and third basemen in on the grass, regardless of the count or situation. Keith Butler’s final batting average at .312 gave the Gatemen the top three spots in that important category. Paul Henry played all but two innings of every game for the Gatemen at shortstop. He led the league with 200 total plate appearances, 176 ABs and tied Murton for third with 47 hits, Aaron Hill (LSU) provided solid defense at third and second base. He was selected as MVP of the playoffs with a .400 batting average.
A wonderful summer of baseball was provided for Wareham fans by an outstanding group of young men and an excellent coaching staff. ~jhw
What a difference a year makes. After finishing fifth in the league last season, the Red Sox pretty much owned the top slot in the East from Day One. The Sox continued their winning ways the entire 44-game schedule under Coach Scott Pickler, who guided the Y-D franchise to the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
In the records department, Y-D broke the league record for shutouts with nine, set a new team record with 355 strikeouts and finished second in the league in batting (.246) and runs scored (177).
Leading the pack at the plate was Adam Bourassa (Apple Valley, MI/Kishwaukee) who hit .282 (11th in league) with 9 RBI. Bourassa, who was origninally slated to be a fill-in, was an East Starter at the All Star game and was the recipient of the league’s Tenth Player Award. Right behind were Ryan Klocksien (.270, 16 RBI, Lawrence, KS/Kansas), Notre Dame’s Steve Sollman (.270, 17 RBI) and Tila Reynolds (.269, Renton, WA/Washington). All four finished in the top twenty.
On the mound, Texas A&M’s Steve Ponder was the workhorse. In 9 games, the resident of Austin, TX posted a 5-3 mark and 2.73 era along with 65 strikeouts in 52.2 innings of work. Fellow starter Jim Brauer (Carmel, IN/Michigan) was 2-3 with a 1.84 era while Drew Endicott (Carthage, MO/Missouri) posted a 2.61 era.
In relief, the Sox turned to veteran Brandon Luna (Lompoc, CA/Auburn) who saved 6 with 1.88 era and Isaac Pavlik (Rutherford, NJ/Seton Hall) with 5 saves and a 1.99 era. Luna was one of three players chosen to Baseball America’s Top 30 Prospects for the Sox. He was #28 and was followed by Tila Reynolds (29th) and Steve Ponder (30).