06/18/2006 3:51 PM
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
(15 June – 18 June 2006)
Cape League Season Begins with a Bang
Coca Cola Pitcher and Player of the Week
COCA COLA PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Cotuit Kettleers pitcher Dan Delucia (Ohio State) earned this week’s Coca-Cola Pitcher of the Week in his team’s Opening Day game. Delucia threw eight impressive innings, giving up only one earned run and three hits while striking out four batters. His team gave him plenty of run support from the start, scoring three runs in the second inning on way to an 8-2 victory over the Brewster Whitecaps.
COCA COLA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Matt Rizzotti (Manhattan) of the Chatham A’s opened the season in impressive fashion, earning the Coca-Cola Player of the Week. He went 2-for-3 in the season opener and also drew two walks from the Y-D pitching staff. His biggest hit of the day came in the seventh inning with two outs and his team down by four runs. The bases were loaded as he stepped up to the plate and he quickly turned the first pitch he saw into a grand slam to tie the game. The A’s went on to win, 6-5.
Excitement Turns to Disappointment for the Whitecaps
BREWSTER, Mass. – Taking on the defending champs at their new field and in their new uniforms stirred up excitement in Brewster Thursday night. The Whitecaps played their home opener at their new digs at Stony Brook School in Brewster, but despite their new surroundings and new attire, the Whitecaps couldn’t pull off the win.
There was a tremendous turnout at the game; about 1,000 people came out to take part in the start of the summer here on the Cape. Many came out to be part of history, being the first spectators to watch the Brewster Whitecaps play on their very first home field in the town of Brewster. Fans were very impressed with how great the field looks and they were thrilled that they finally have a place of their own. One fan was overheard as saying, “Here we are, at our home field – finally.” That was the consistent feeling throughout the ballpark.
At the same time that the realization of having a new field was settling in, disappointment from the night’s result surfaced with fans and field manager Bob Macaluso.
Thursday’s loss came solely down to “missed opportunities,” which is upsetting because of how well the defense and bullpen performed. There also seemed to be a sense of unity among the team already, which is probably one of the reasons that general manager Ned Monthie said, “we expect good things [this season].”
One of the Whitecaps’ “good things” is Harwich, Mass. native LHP Cody Crowell (Vanderbilt), who after four innings of hard-throwing relief had six strikeouts and left the game with a 0.00 ERA.
Whitecaps fans can also look forward to two other Cape Cod natives – catcher Adam LaPlante (Wheaton) of Harwich, and LaPlante’s teammate and neighbor, INF Jake Yagjian (Wheaton) of Brewster. Both LaPlante and Yagjian finished up their regular seasons at school hitting over .300.
By Johnna DeChristoforo, CCBL Intern [email protected]
“The Waiting is the Hardest Part”
CHATHAM, Mass. - Tom Petty said it best with his lyrics, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
Fans of the Chatham A’s have waited all year for Opening Day on June 15, and then they had to wait one more day. The aftermath of an extremely rainy spring was a field not quite ready for play. General Manager Charlie Thoms called the field “too dangerous for the players” due to the especially wet playing surface. The young, talented players of the CCBL are the league’s biggest assets, and on Thursday, the league needed to protect its assets.
Instead of the A’s playing their game against Falmouth, field manager John Schiffner held a practice and prepared his team for Friday night’s game against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The game would be a classic.
The game didn’t start to Schiffner’s liking. Y-Ds put Chatham behind the eight ball with a five-run fourth, as Chatham’s starter Ricky Hargrove (Houston) was the victim of unearned runs. A dropped fly ball by Allen Dykstra (Wake Forest) and a Daniel Espinosa (Long Beach State) throwing error led to all five runs. Y-D’s starter Terry Doyle (Boston College) pitched well, but ran into trouble in the seventh inning when Chatham mounted a heroic comeback. Down by four runs with the bases loaded, Matt Rizotti (Manhattan) belted a grand slam to left center. Espinosa and Dykstra scored on the homer and atoned for their previous errors.
However, the game was now merely tied. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Chris Carrara (Winthrop) stood on third as Todd Frazier (Rutgers) stepped to the plate. Frazier struck out, but the ball got behind the catcher and Frazier advanced to first, while Carrara scored the go-ahead run. Derrick Lutz (George Washington) shut the door on Y-D in the bottom of ninth to get the save, while Paul Koss (USC) got the win.
Thursday’s rainout will be made up on Tuesday, June 20 at Veterans Field. General manager Charlie Thoms noted that the postponement of the season opener “will cause us to play 12 straight games.” The task will be a grueling early test for the 2006 Chatham A’s.
Jonathan French, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Hooray for Harwich
HARWICH, Mass. – When the Harwich Mariners are not mentoring kids through their Youth Baseball Clinics or getting to know the fans by passing out 50/50 raffles, their pitching staff is putting up 15 strikeouts and their defense is holding the defending champs to nine scoreless innings.
After a disappointing outing Thursday, the Mariners turned things around and came through with a big win Friday.
Coach Steve Englert says “strikes, defense and timely hits” are what made the difference for the Mariners in their home-opener win over the Orleans Cardinals. Englert also spoke about how the team is in its beginning stage and they are still figuring out which roles each player will fill, but it is likely that LHP Dan Merklinger (Seton Hall) will remain in the rotation.
Merklinger is a former temporary player for the 2005 Falmouth Commodores who went six great innings Friday with nine strikeouts, making him the early league leader. The team player wouldn’t take all the credit, saying the win was an “all-around effort”.
Indeed it was an all-around effort, as relief pitchers Josh Ellis (Wake Forest) and Dan McDonald (Seton Hall) finished out the game strongly. And let’s not forget the guys who knocked in the runs that made this victory possible. Sergio Miranda (Virginia Commonwealth) and Antone DeJesus (Kentucky) both hit RBI singles to give the Mariners the 2-0 win.
There should also be a special thank you to the Mariners’ fans and organization. The stands were filled at Whitehouse Field and the people behind the scenes really got the already-enthusiastic fans involved in the game from beginning to end.
By Johnna DeChristoforo, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Cardinals Play “Small Ball”
ORLEANS, Mass. – After a magical season in 2005 which ended with a Cape Cod Baseball League championship, the Orleans Cardinals brought back their winning recipe for the 2006 season. The recipe includes stellar pitching, timely hitting, and a large dose of “small ball.” Field manager Kelly Nicholson calls small ball “extremely important for scoring runs.” The 2006 Orleans Cardinals will undoubtedly be a team that steals bases and commits to sacrificing players around the bases.
The Cardinals brought their strategic style of play to the season opener against the Brewster Whitecaps, who were playing their first game at the new field at Stony Brook School. Orleans continued the hot play from last season with a 2-0 win to start the season. A total of five different Cardinals pitchers contributed to the two-hit pitching gem, with Eric Surkamp (NC State), Clayton Shunick (Georgia State), Cameron Betourne (Vanderbilt), Brock Baber (Kentucky) and Brett Cecil (Maryland) all lent an arm to the pitching performance. Shunick ended the night with the win.
The Cardinals got all the runs they needed in the second inning. With two outs, Kyle Scogin (West Point) was hit by a pitch and then immediately stole second, and Ryan Sontag (Arizona State) drove in his teammate with an RBI single. Joe Mahoney (Richmond) added an insurance run in the third.
Friday night was a reversal of fortune for the Cardinals after a 2-0 loss to the Harwich Mariners. Harwich lefty Dan Merklinger (Seton Hall) was effective on a cool night at Whitehouse Field in Harwich. Coach Nicholson contributed his success to “throwing strikes” and “staying ahead of our batters.”
Merklinger struck out nine without letting up a walk through six strong innings of work. Harwich pitchers Josh Ellis (Wake Forest) and Dan McDonald (Seton Hall) combined for three solid innings of relief. At the end of the night, Harwich pitchers finished up with 15 strikeouts. Cardinals’ pitcher Ty Davis (Vanderbilt) put forth a strong effort and only allowed one earned run through six innings of work, but Nicholson noted, “You can’t win if you don’t score.”
Jonathan French, CCBL Intern [email protected]
After a Strong Start, Sox Come Up Short
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. – The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox kicked off their season Friday with a home opener against the Chatham Athletics. After a scoreless three innings, the Sox exploded in the fourth, only to be outshined in the seventh inning by the A’s.Starting Y-D pitcher Terry Doyle (BC) and A’s hurler Ricky Hargrove (Houston) provided solid starts for both ball clubs. This season will mark Hargrove’s second in the Cape League; last year he was a standout for Hyannis. However, Chatham’s Hargrove appeared tired at the top of the fourth, walking two batters, Brad Emaus (Tulane) and Buster Posey (Florida State), and giving up five runs.
Michael Hollander (LSU) advanced to second base on an error and took third after Hargrove let up two walks to load the bases. A Mike Biannucci (Auburn) single and doubles by both Steven Strausbaugh (Western Carolina) and Jordan Pacheco (New Mexico) gave Y-D the 5-0 lead.
However, in the top of the seventh inning, Chatham regrouped and put up five runs of their own tying Y-D on a Matt Rizotti (Manhattan) homer. Y-D couldn’t answer back and the A’s took the lead and the game in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch. The outcome of the game proves that in the Cape League, it really ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
The Red Sox get another crack at the A’s on Monday at Veterans Field in Chatham.
Courtney Reilly, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Braves Wait To Christen New Field
BOURNE, Mass. – Despite the completion of the new state-of-the-art facility that the Bourne Braves will be play in this season, the weather was unable to cooperate and forced the Braves to postpone their home opener Thursday night. “The field looks great and we were excited to open it. Unfortunately, the newly-placed sod around home plate has not drained very well,” says Braves GM Mike Carrier.
Friday night marked the start for both the Bourne Braves and the Falmouth Commodores, squaring off at Arnie Allen Diamond in Falmouth. The Braves sent RHP Mickey Storey (FAU) to the mound to battle Ross Detwiler (Missouri State) of the Commodores. The bats of the Commodores failed to be tamed as Storey was able to last only four innings, giving up four runs on four hits and striking out six. The Braves brought in relievers Tom Curran (Fordham) and Kyle Walker (Texas) to prevent the Commodores from scoring another run.
Defensively, the Braves were looking strong and showed tremendous speed at the sound of the bat, proven by the strong plays that were made in the infield. Austin Krum (Dallas Baptist) showed his speed after beating out an infield hit and coming close to robbing the home run that came off the bat of Commodores Matt Nuzzo (Brown). Nuzzo became a part of Cape League history last night as one of 5 players to hit a home run in his first Cape League at-bat. Nuzzo connected with the first pitch he saw and delivered it over the center field fence, now sitting along side Cape League alumni Kevin Youkilis (Bourne) and Carlton Fisk (Orleans).
The Commodores were able to diminish the amount of hits allowed to the Braves with the great defensive plays performed by RF Warren McFadden (Tulane) and the strong performance of Detwiler, who lasted 6 1/3 innings, giving up two hits and striking out eight. Shooter Hunt (Virginia) came in to pitch well for 1 2/3 innings, setting up Sam Demel (TCU) to close out the game.
The Braves return home on Sunday to face the Wareham Gatemen. The field at Upper Cape Tech is turning heads with its layout and is “leaving an immense amount of potential for improvement, which is really exciting,” says Braves GM Mike Carrier. Carrier, who is also a teacher at Upper Cape Tech, was to able witness his students building the new field from the ground up and will feel a sense of satisfaction at the opening of the field.
By Daniel Scalia, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Cotuit Opener is a “Hit”
COTUIT, Mass. – Ivan Partridge said it all. “Have a hit” was his call, a phrase that echoed every home half-inning at the Cotuit Kettleers season opener Friday night.
An active fan of the Kettleers since 1954, Partridge has been directly involved with the Cape League and specifically with Cotuit for the last 18 years. He played for the U.S. Navy baseball team during World War II while serving in the South Pacific. A retired Mashpee resident and a local minister, Partridge is the Director of Community Activities for the Kettleers and a member of the Board of Directors.
His voice stands out above all others at picturesque Lowell Park, the setting of the Kettleers’ first game of the 2006 season after Thursday’s game was rained out. Partridge perused the stands and the area around the backstop yelling “Have a hit,” and the Kettleers responded with a big offensive showing against the Brewster Whitecaps.
Cotuit racked up 16 hits, led by Tony Delmonico (Tennessee) and his four hits. Teammates Tony Thomas Jr. (Florida State) and Kellen Kulbacki (James Madison), who each toted three hits on the night, added to the mix.
The Kettleers just kept putting up runs after they got going, seeming unstoppable. They hit to every field, ran squeezes perfectly and even bunted for hits. Nearly every man in the lineup left with a hit.
Brewster’s Colin Cowgill (Kentucky) tried to get his team into the hitting trend with his home run in the fourth, which plated the first Whitecaps run.
It wasn’t all batting, though, as Cotuit starter Dan Delucia (Ohio State) pitched efficiently through eight innings. Laying the ball in the strike zone, Delucia let the solid defense of the Kettleers strut its stuff. He finished with four strikeouts, three hits, and just two earned runs.
Shane Matthews (East Carolina) pitched in relief in the ninth inning and sealed the deal for a Cotuit victory, with a final score of 8-2.
After the game, Ivan “Have a Hit” Partridge said he was hopeful, as always, for a successful Kettleers season. The phrase “Have a hit” can be found on t-shirts sold at Cotuit home games and it can even be heard today in some major league parks, where former Cotuit players now make their living. It has become part of the essence of Lowell Park, a place that lives and breathes baseball when the Kettleers come to town for the summer.
By Adam McGillen, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Four Clemson Tigers join the Falmouth Commodores
FALMOUTH, Mass. – Clawing their way to the top is a strategy these Clemson University Tigers have perfected. Holding strong as the No. 1 baseball team in the country, they look to close in on the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., and prevail as the top college baseball team of 2006.
But if clinching a World Series isn’t enough, four Tigers are ready to embark on a new journey, as they head north and spend the next few months playing under the veteran eye of Jeff Trundy for the Falmouth Commodores.
This season, the Commodores plan to avoid the rocky start which they had last summer, when they only claimed one victory out of the first seven games.
The Commodores have already found themselves on the right path, as they clinched their first win against the Bourne Braves on Friday, winning 4-0. Pitcher Ross Detwhiler (Missouri State) successfully struck out eight batters while remaining in the game for 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two hits. The Commodores have begun their 2006 season smoothly, and if their pitching remains consistent throughout the summer, they may be swinging bats at the Cape Cod League Championship.
As the four Tigers from Clemson wrap up their Championship games before arriving at Arnie Allen Diamond in Falmouth, Bob Mancini (Franklin Pierce) fills in as just one of the few temporary players for the Commodores. Officially not on the roster, Mancini remains hopeful that he will land a spot as a permanent player after giving his all on and off the diamond.
Assistant General Manager Dan Dunn of the Commodores stated that, “Bob Mancini is currently one of our outfielders. We certainly wouldn’t ‘temp’ a player if they didn’t have a standing chance of making it as a permanent player on the roster. However, Mancini hasn’t played at this level of baseball before, so he will have to consistently stay strong in order to land a spot for the entire season with the Commodores.”
While Mancini helps carry the Commodores to their early victories, the anticipation is quickly growing as coaches, teammates, and fans await the arrival of the four Tigers. When asked about the opportunity of four of the best collegiate players in the country to represent the Commodores, Dunn stated, “We would hate to root against them in the College World Series, but we certainly do need them up here on our team as soon as possible.”
What may turn out to be key to the Commodores’ success this summer is the fact that each athlete from Clemson plays a different position in the game. Taylor Harbin is on the bag at second base, while Brad Chalk protects the grounds in center field. Flamethrower David Kopp, hailing from St. Louis, Mo., will take the mound as a starting pitcher, while Stan Widmann remains at shortstop. These tigers have made their Clemson baseball team unstoppable, and all will bring their star abilities to Falmouth. The opportunity awaits them this summer to showcase their top-ranked talent to a fresh crowd full of scouts, coaches, teammates, and fans.
Their “Tiger” claws are sharpened, and their wooden bats and Commodore jerseys lay untouched. Will these Clemson Tigers prove to be the top animals of the Cape League this summer? We soon shall see when they take to their diamond early next week.
By Lauren B. Malone, CCBL Intern, [email protected]
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
HYANNIS, Mass. – It seems Mother Nature is not on the Cape Cod Baseball League or Hyannis Mets’ side this summer. With Thursday’s home opener against the Mid-Cape rival Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox rained out, the Mets started the season Friday against the Wareham Gatemen.
The Mets’ returning players were greeted with an unwanted throwback to last year’s season (7-36-1), losing to the Gatemen 5-3. Throughout the third and fourth innings, Wareham took a 5-0 lead against the Mets and starting pitcher Matt Daly (Hawaii).
Fans held hope that the Mets would answer back, and in the bottom of the fourth they did. Ryan Flaherty’s (Vanderbilt) double to left center scored Sean O'Brien (Virginia Tech). Ramon Corona (NC State) returned the favor to Flaherty with a single, driving in a run from second.
But the Mets came up empty after a promising single by Max Arsenault (Southern Maine), who went 2-for-4. The home opener proved to be a game of missed opportunities for Hyannis.
Although they lost their first game, the Mets still have a positive outlook, largely due to Mets’ returnee Daniel Latham (Tulane). Upon arriving in Hyannis for his second season with the Mets, Latham has gained a tremendous new outlook on life, realizing that winning or losing a baseball is minor in the grand scheme of life.
Latham, a native of Covington, La., arrived home last August eager to meet up with friends and family before beginning his junior year at Tulane. However, Mother Nature had other plans. Louisiana was hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, devastating much of the Gulf Coast and leaving many Louisiana natives homeless. “My family was pretty lucky,” says Latham. “Katrina didn’t wreck our town too much, but we did feel the fallout from Rita.” Tulane was closed because of the damage and Latham spent his first semester at Texas Tech. Returning for baseball season, he encountered several other changes. The Green Wave’s home baseball field was destroyed, leaving Latham and his teammates to play at a minor league field in New Orleans.
Although on the surface, Latham seems the same man he was upon entering the Cape last summer, fans who look deeper will find someone who has dealt with a tremendous pain and grown from it. The Mets may have lost the first game, but as they will learn this summer from their teammate, “things will get better, they always do.”
By Courtney Reilly, CCBL Intern, [email protected]
Gatemen Post Strong Early Returns
WAREHAM, Mass. – The Wareham Gatemen have been waiting for this day to come, the beginning of the 2006 season. After suffering tough losses late in the 2005 season, the Gatemen have something to prove to themselves and their fans. Thursday marked the start of the 2006 season, where the Gatemen were hosts to the Harwich Mariners. The Gatemen sent their ace Riley Boening (Texas) to the mound, who exhibited extraordinary command by allowing no walks and surrendering one run over seven innings. Performing as a closer in his collegiate season, Nicki Cassavechia (Baylor) was sent to the hill in the eighth to relieve Boening. After loading the bases in the ninth, the Mariners were unable to score any runs and ended the game by grounding into a double play. John Wylde, president/GM of the Gatemen, was happy with his pitching staff and focused on the minimal amount of walks surrendered as a foundation.
As opposed to 2005, the Gatemen came out running this year with every opportunity they had. Managing to steal five bases in six attempts, the Gatemen showed speed on the bases and played small ball. Unfortunately for the Mariners, they were unable to tame the strong bats of the Gatemen, allowing 10 runs on eight hits.
Coming into his first at-bat, 2B Bradley Suttle (Texas) showed little nervousness after blasting the second pitch over the left field fence. Suttle became one of only five other players in CCBL history to hit a HR in his first at-bat. Other members include Bourne Braves alumnus Kevin Youkilis and former Orleans player Carlton Fisk.
Friday brought much of the same success for the Gatemen after bringing RHP John Lalor (Mississippi St.) to face the Hyannis Mets. The Gatemen came out swinging by posting an early 5-0 lead. The Mets began to quiet the Wareham bats after bringing in Charlie Furbush (St. Joseph’s-Maine), who lasted four innings by giving up only three hits and posting two strikeouts. Lalor was relieved in the seventh by Martin Beno (Miss. Gulf Coast CC), who surrendered three K’s and no runs in two innings. The LA Dodgers selected Beno in the 17th round of the MLB Draft.
Having used Cassavechia on Thursday night, the Gatemen brought in RHP Connor Graham (Miami-OH) to close the game and seal the win for Lalor. Graham’s velocity, reaching the mid-90s, helped him to strike out two of the three players he faced. Wylde added, “It’s great to have the luxury of being able to utilize two strong closers like we do.” The team travels to Bourne Sunday and will be back at Spillane Field Monday to face the Cotuit Kettleers.
Daniel Scalia, CCBL Intern [email protected]
Around the Cape League Horn
Wet and Wild: Three games were postponed opening night due to wet field conditions and will be played Tuesday (June 20). The Cotuit at Bourne and the Y-D at Hyannis games will start at 5 p.m., while the Falmouth at Chatham contest begins at 7 p.m.
Sullivan Tire Nights: Harwich - June 19 at 6:30; Wareham - July 20 at 6:30; Falmouth - June 16 at 6:30; Hyannis - June 29 at 4:30; Brewster - July 7 at 4:30; Bourne - July 12 at 4:30; Yarmouth - July 31 at 4:30; Chatham - July 10 at 6:30; Orleans - July 3 at 6:30; Cotuit at August 2 at 4:30 …
Corporate Sponsors: The top 15 corporate sponsors for the Cape League’s 2006 season are Chatham Bars Inn, Yawkey Foundation, Bank of America, KeySpan, Coca-Cola Bottling of Cape Cod, Ocean Spray, 99 Restaurants, Cape Cod Potato Chips, Shields MRI and CT, Sullivan Tire, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass., Eye Health Services, Curry College, Baseball Factory and Yellow Book. Major League Baseball continues to support the Cape Cod Baseball League with a major grant. There are 40 current sponsors of the CCBL …
Local Flavor: Harwich native and 2005 Big East Player of the Year Jared McGuire (Boston College) has been signed to a regular contract by the Hyannis Mets. McGuire’s high school teammate Cody Crowell (Vanderbilt) hurled four innings of shutout ball for the Brewster Whitecaps on opening night, allowing two hits and striking out six while pitching to yet another former Harwich mate, catcher Adam Laplante (Wheaton). Former Nauset standout Jake Yagjian (Wheaton) is also playing infield for the Whitecaps …
Sports Museum Highlights: One of the video highlights of last Thursday’s New England Sports Museum’s Tradition event at the TD Banknorth Garden was the CCBL exhibit at Logan Airport …
Oh Say Can You See: Executive Director Monica Parker of the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce will sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park on Cape League All-Star Recognition Night on Thursday, August 3 before the Kansas City Royals vs. Boston Red Sox game.
Interns: Johnna DeChristoforo, Jonathan French, Lauren B. Malone
Adam McGillen, Courtney Reilly, Daniel Scalia