Star-studded day on the diamond
Cape League All-Stars take the field today with a pitching matchup that is anything but typical.
By RUSS CHARPENTIER
PLEASANT LAKE - Harvard vs. Fairfield. This has got to be a Cape League first.
The starting pitchers in today's Sprint PCS Cape League all-star game at Cape Tech High School (first pitch at 4 p.m.) hail from those two schools, a rarity in a league considered to be the best among the nation's college summer circuits.
But East starter Dan Krines of Chatham and Fairfield, and West starter Ben Crockett of Wareham and Harvard certainly have proven they belong in such talented company.
Cape League All-Stars
What: Sprint PCS Cape League All-Star game
When: 4 p.m. game time; pregame festivities begin at 12:30
Where: Cape Tech High School, Pleasant Lake
Admission: Free of charge, with a passing of the hat for donations
Krines (6-0, 2.01), who also punts for the Stags football team, has been brilliant this summer. The 6-3, 210-pound right-hander, going into his junior year, doesn't overpower batters - he's struck out a paltry 16 in 45 innings. But he's only walked eight and given up 35 hits as his ball movement and change of speeds has befuddled hitters.
Crockett (4-1, 2.72), also heading into his junior year, was roughed up by Hyannis in his last start but still leads the league with 53 innings pitched. He's struck out 60 while walking a mere 11 in those innings.
"I'm pretty excited about starting," said Crockett. "I certainly didn't expect an honor like this when I came here. I played in Alaska with the Mat-Su Miners last summer, so I kind of knew the competition I would be facing.
"Growing up (in Topsfield, becoming a Globe and Herald 1998 All Scholastic at Masconomet) and hearing about the Cape League my whole life, and hearing how special it is to play here, makes this an extra special day for me."
The managers of last year's division winners and playoff finalists, Mike Coutts of Cotuit and John Schiffner of Chatham, will head up the dugouts.
They will trot out some of the country's most talented collegians.
There are two returning players from the 1999 game. Orleans outfielder Brad Stockton (Georgia Tech) played for Cotuit last summer and was a reserve for the West. His Yellow Jacket teammate, Orleans catcher Bryan Prince, was an alternate who played for the East because of an injury to the catcher voted ahead of him.
The top 10 hitters (as of midweek) are all in the starting lineups, six in the East, four in the West. Chatham right fielder Todd Linden (league-high .356) heads up the East squad. The Washington star has both speed and power and could put on a charge to become the league's first triple-crown winner since it became a college league in 1963. His four homers are three off the pace of Falmouth's Luke Scott, and his 19 RBIs are two behind Scott.
Doc Brooks of Georgia, whose home run hitting exploits prior to last year's all-star game became the day's highlight, will see double duty this year. He's back to defend his home run derby title but is also the West's starting left fielder. His six homers so far this season are second in the league.
He'll be joined in the 2 p.m. home run contest by Falmouth teammate Luke Scott (Okla. State) and 1998 regular-season home run champion Daylan Holt of Texas A&M, a second-round draft choice of the Oakland A's. Home-run hitters for the East are Yarmouth-Dennis' Travis Wong (Texas A&M) and Jason Cooper (Stanford) and Linden.
The day begins for the fans at 12:30 p.m. with batting practice and autograph sessions.
The West won last year's game, 6-4, before an estimated 4,000 fans win Wareham.