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7 Returnees have Firebirds Looking to Top 2008

05/18/2009 9:16 AM

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for immediate release: 18 May 2009

7 Returnees Have Firebirds Looking to Top 2008

ORLEANS, Mass. – Last season, the Orleans pitching staff posted a league-best 3.10 team ERA to lead the Cardinals to a 25-17-2 record, the best in the Cape Cod Baseball League during the regular season. This summer, the renamed Orleans Firebirds look to build on the success they experienced in 2008 and bring home their first league championship since 2005. 

     The Firebirds have seven players returning from the 2008 campaign. Gary Brown (Cal State-Fullerton) hit .222 last year with two home runs and nine RBI. He was also second on the team with 20 runs scored. Alex Hassan (Duke) hit .208 with 17 runs and also closed out five games and sported a 3.00 ERA. Through April 26, Hassan was Duke’s second leading hitter with a .360 average and a team-high 49 runs scored. And, as the Blue Devils’ closer, Hassan owns a 2-2 record and eight saves. 

     Elliot Glynn (Connecticut), Rob Rasmussen (UCLA) and Martin Viramontes (Loyola Marymount) are returning from an Orleans pitching staff that ranked No. 1 in the Cape League. Glynn went 2-1 last year with a 3.20 ERA while Viramontes was 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Rasmussen struck out 43 batters in 39.1 inning pitched last year, earning a 4-3 record with a 4.12 ERA. At UCLA this spring, Rasmussen was 3-2 through six starts as of May 1. 

     Michael Olt (Connecticut) and Hampton Tignor (Florida) also return from last year. Olt, a 6-2 shortstop, hit .250 in limited action last season, while Tignor batted .132.

     Kelly Nicholson returns for his fifth season as skipper. The 2005 CCBL Manager of the Year joined the team in 2001 as a pitching coach and since then his charges have led the league in ERA three times.

     The 2009 Firebirds team will also Xavier Esquivel, Matt Koch and Viramontes from Loyola Marymount; Casey Gaynor and Jaren Matthews from Rutgers; Fresno State’s Danny Muno and Josh Poytress, Duke’s Mike Ness, Jeremy Gould and Hassan, and Connecticut’s Glynn and Olt. 

     There will also be a pair of brothers on the 2009 Firebirds roster -- Kevin Muno and Danny Muno. Kevin, a junior at San Diego, was batting .305 with two home runs and Danny was leading Fresno State in batting (.377), runs (58), hits (54) and doubles (16), through April 28. 

     Over the years, Orleans has sent dozens of players to the Major Leagues. This season, they are anxiously awaiting the MLB debut of Baltimore Orioles catching phenom Matt Wieters. Wieters, the Cape League’s 2006 Outstanding Pro Prospect award winner, is expected to make his jump to the majors before the all-star break. The fifth overall pick in the 2007 MLB amateur draft split time between class A and class AA last season, hitting .355 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI as he was named Baseball America’s 2008 Minor League Player of the Year. 

     Tyler Green (2004) recently made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals and Brett Cecil (2006) is the newest member of the Totonto Blue Jays’ pitching staff. 

     Former Red Sox great and current Oakland Athletic Nomar Garciaparra (1993), Todd Helton (1994) of the 2007 National League champion Colorado Rockies, 500 home-run club member Frank Thomas (1988) of the Oakland A’s, three-time National League All-Star pitcher Ben Sheets (1999) of the Milwaukee Brewers, six-time Gold Glove winner J.T. Snow (1988), now a radio announcer for the San Francisco Giants, and Mark Teixieira (1999) of the New York Yankees are others who developed their skills at Eldredge Park in Orleans.

     The season gets under way on Friday, June 12, when the Firebirds travel to South Yarmouth to take on the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Red Wilson Field. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. Orleans’ home opener will be played the following evening at 7 p.m. against the Brewster Whitecaps.

Phil Garceau, CCBL Intern ([email protected]


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