America's League

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Divisional Finals Preview

Graphic: Maya Ferland
08/07/2022 12:11 PM

Article By: Michael Lane

Round One of the Cape League Playoffs, presented by National Grid, was full of excitement. The Divisional Finals are set to begin this afternoon in Brewster. We have a full preview!

East Division:

(1) Brewster Whitecaps vs. (2) Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
Game 1: Yarmouth-Dennis at Brewster 4:00pm - Sunday, August 7th
Game 2: Brewster at Yarmouth-Dennis 3:00pm - Monday, August 8th
Game 3 (If Nec.): Yarmouth-Dennis at Brewster 3:30pm - Tuesday, August 9th

The History:
In the final stretch of the season, Brewster finished 5-1-2 while Yarmouth-Dennis (Y-D) finished 0-7-1. That was the difference in deciding the top seed in the East, and home field advantage for this best-of-three series. Y-D and Brewster finished their regular season series 2-2-2 against each other, with the final game coming on Aug. 2nd at Y-D. Both teams had a chance to clinch sole possession of the East, but tied 2-2. Jamie Shevchik (Brewster) and Scott Pickler (Y-D) have faced off three times in the postseason, with Shevchik coming out on top two of the three times (2017 and 2018). Also, two of the three times the winning team went on to become Cape League Champions, with Y-D winning in 2015 and Brewster in 2017.

How Yarmouth-Dennis Got Here:
Entering the playoffs, Y-D was the coldest team in the league, having finished 0-7-1 down the stretch. They enter the second round having possibly more momentum than any team. After falling behind in Game One 10-3, Y-D battled back to win 12-11, in a game that featured a benches clearing incident and was suspended due to darkness. Y-D went on the road and closed out the series in Game Two, having control of the game from the first inning. Johnny Long played hero for Y-D in the Opening Round. He finished the series with a 1.250 OPS and six RBI, including a grand slam in Game One. Cole Carrigg might represent the heart and soul of this Y-D club though. Carrigg finished the series hitting 4-9 with two walks, including a game-tying double in Game One. Then, in Game Two, Carrigg took the mound for a five-out save. He ended up striking out the final four batters and sent Y-D on to the next round. In a year where Scott Pickler made history already, becoming the winningest manager in Cape League history, he has a chance to win a record seventh Cape League Championship.

How Brewster Got Here:
Jaime Shevchik has the Whitecaps back in the Eastern Division Finals for the fourth time in five seasons, and is seeking his third championship in that span. In a rematch of last year’s playoffs, Brewster once again defeated Harwich in two games, this time in the first round. A walk-off home run from David Mendham highlighted a Game One victory at home for the Whitecaps. Brewster went on the road, grabbed the lead in the first inning and went on to win 5-3 to complete the sweep Friday night. The Brewster bullpen is once again their biggest weapon. Troy Butler and Brennan Oxford combined for 5.1 scoreless innings of relief in their Game One victory. Nick Payero closed out Game Two with a seven out save, allowing no runs and just one baserunner. At the plate, Cameron Fisher is becoming a dangerous out. Fisher homered in both games against Harwich, finishing with a 1.500 OPS and five RBI. The path to a Cape League Championship with continue to run through Stony Brook Field.

West Division:

(1) Bourne Braves vs. (3) Hyannis Harbor Hawks
Game 1: Hyannis at Bourne 6:00pm - Sunday, August 7th
Game 2: Bourne at Hyannis 6:00pm - Monday, August 8th
Game 3 (If Nec.): Hyannis at Bourne 6:00pm - Tuesday, August 9th

The History:
Bourne finished the regular season strong, going 8-1-1 over their last 10 games to overtake the top seed in the West. With both teams being managed by first-year guys, the two have no history in the playoffs. In the regular season though, Scott Landers’ Bravos took the season series 3-1-2, including a 4-3 victory at the very end of the season that put them in a position to claim the President’s Trophy. The last time the two teams faced off in the playoffs was the 2015 Western Division Finals. Hyannis took that series 2-0, before falling to Yarmouth-Dennis in the Championship.

How Hyannis Got Here:
In 2021, the Harbor Hawks finished 8-28 with a -91 run differential. For context, the next lowest was Y-D with -16 runs. After making numerous changes across the organization, including Manager Eric Beattie, General Manager Nick Johnson, President Dan Johnson, and Director of Baseball Ops Mazdak Darvari, the Harbor Hawks are making noise. They finished the season 22-16-6, with a league high +31 run differential. Their dugout and bullpen has been energetic from Opening Day, and it has carried into the playoffs. In a deciding Game Three, the Hawks pounced on Cotuit, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. They never looked back and players continued receiving curtain calls from the bullpen. The Hyannis offense combined for five home runs in round one, including two from Nolan Schanuel. Schanuel finished the series with a 1.865 OPS, going 4-7 with two walks in the two wins for Hyannis. They’ve lost some pitchers entering this round of the playoffs, but the Hawks will not go down without a fight and pose a scary matchup for any opponent.

How Bourne Got Here:
Despite being a first-year manager, Scott Landers has experience coaching deep into the Cape League summer. Last year, Landers was the pitching coach for a Brewster team that ended up knocking off the top-seeded Braves in the Championship. Bourne is back this year again as the top overall seed, and led by the best player in the league this summer, Matt Shaw. The 2022 MVP Shaw had a quiet bat in their opening series, but his play in the field remained exceptional, saving multiple runs. You can expect Shaw’s bat to come alive in the second round, as he hit .360 over the season. Joshua Kuroda-Grauer was a spark plug for the Braves offensively, hitting .400 with a team high four RBI against Falmouth. The Braves fought hard against Falmouth, coming back from a three-run deficit in Game One and a two-run deficit in Game Three. They held off Falmouth’s comeback push thanks to a five-out save from Ty Cummings. Bourne led the league in team ERA during the regular season, which matches up well against a Hyannis club that’s biggest strength has been offensively. The key will be to keep the Hyannis bats quiet in the first few innings, and Bourne may be on their way back to the Championship for a second consecutive year. 

Graphic: Maya Ferland