By Nick Williams, CCBL Intern
It’s been four long years since Cotuit captured the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship in 2013 with a two-game sweep over the Orleans Firebirds.
All five West Division teams head into 2017 looking to dethrone the Yarmouth Red Sox who’ve won three consecutive league championships.
The Falmouth Commodores and field manager Jeff Trundy look to redeem themselves after being swept by Y-D in the championship series last season. General Manager Eric Zmuda brings back six players from the 2016 roster that went 29-15, finishing first in the West.
Out of six veterans returning, three are pitchers from a staff that boasted a 2.67 ERA last season. Returning are Thomas Ponticelli (San Francisco), southpaw Tyler Holton (Florida State) and Cole Sands (Florida State). Keep an eye out for Sands as he looks to build on his six appearances last season where he recorded two wins and a 1.28 ERA.
Also returning are shortstop Cadyn Grenier (Oregon State) and outfielders Trevor Larnach (Oregon State) and Josh Watson (TCU). Watson was a force in the Commodores’ lineup last year batting .298 with 15 RBI.
General Manager Andrew Lang and his Wareham Gatemen look to come back strong in 2017 after finishing last season with a 25-15-4 record, good for second in the West. They will make their push for the West under the lead of newly-appointed field manager, Don Sneddon. Sneddon was promoted from third base coach/hitting instructor after joining Wareham’s staff last season.
Sneddon isn’t the only new face for the Gatemen. Pitcher Brett Conine (Cal State Fullerton) and infielder Robert Metz (George Washington) are the only returning players from last year and both were named CCBL All-Stars with Wareham. Conine went 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in over 36 innings last year while Metz batted .280 with 13 RBI.
The Bourne Braves look to improve after finishing 21-21-2 in 2016. They advanced to West Division championship where they were defeated by Falmouth. General Manager Darin Weeks and Manager Harvey Shapiro look to build chemistry behind returning players such as pitchers Ronnie Rossomando (UConn) and Chad Luensmann (Nebraska).
Rossomando (4-2, 2.42 ERA) and Luensmann (4-2, 4.87 ERA) were both impressive last season tying for second in the West with four wins apiece. They bring mound experience to Bourne as both pitchers appeared in more than 20 innings in 2016. Shapiro will likely look for them to throw as many, if not more, innings this year than last. Also returning are position players Brennan Breaux (LSU) and Jeremy Eierman (Missouri St.).
Extra excitement has surrounded Bourne going into this season as Kody Clemens (Texas), former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens’ youngest son, will be joining the roster. The corner infielder brings skill and experience from Texas as well as a name that will attract interest throughout the summer.
General Manager Tino DiGiovanni looked to give the Hyannis Harbor Hawks a face-lift when building the roster this year. The Harbor Hawks, who just two years ago faced Yarmouth-Dennis in the league championship, finished 17-27 in 2016. Field Manager Chad Gassman hopes to bring Hyannis’ fresh roster back to their winning ways after only making the playoffs by a game and half last year.
The Harbor Hawks have one returning player in pitcher Trysten Barlow (Mississippi St.). Barlow will attempt to improve on his 2016 season when he appeared in 12 games recording a 1-2 record with an 8.21 ERA.
The Cotuit Kettleers return after missing the playoffs last season in what was the team’s third straight losing season. General Manager Bruce Murphy and Field Manager Mike Roberts look to turn the tides in Cotuit after a 15-28-1 record in 2016.
Murphy brought back two strong arms from last season in pitchers Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) and Justin Hooper (UCLA). Hooper started five games for the Kettleers last season in eight appearances. He was 0-2 with a 3.19 ERA, best among Cotuit pitchers with four or more starts last year, while Bilous was 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA
Also returning are Kettleer infielders Greyson Jenista (Wichita St.) and Alonzo Jones Jr. (Vanderbilt). Jones will try to improve on an inconsistent season, while Jenista is a leader in Cotuit’s lineup after leading the team in at-bats and hitting .221 with one homer and eight RBI.