07/06/2007 2:29 PM
6 July 2007
Cape League Special
When One ’Dore Closes, Another Opens
The intensity radiated from the dugout. Beads of sweat dripped off the pitcher’s face. And with one swing of the bat, a freshman shattered their dreams.
Dominic de la Osa
Nobody understood. Fans left shell-shocked. The dugout was silent as the players deserted the field with their heads hanging.
The top-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores had just lost their chance to move a step closer to the one city that had been on their minds for months: Omaha, Neb. The College World Series was suddenly a sickening thought to Vanderbilt, but a reality for the Michigan Wolverines, who had just beaten the Commodores when pinch-hitter Alan Oaks, a freshman with a season .188 batting average, ripped a fastball over the left-centerfield wall for a 10th-inning, 4-3 victory.
The dramatic ending to the NCAA Regionals in Nashville propelled Michigan into the first-ever Super Regional the following weekend in Corvallis, Ore.
Disbelief and sadness saturated the field that night for the Vanderbilt players, coaches and fans. And there was nothing anybody could do about it.
Although the reverberations of that early June day are still felt among members of the Vanderbilt team and community, eight players have found a bit of solace this summer on the fields of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“I am just here trying to get better at baseball every day,” said David Macias, who is returning for his second season as a Hyannis Met. “Expecting to make it all the way to Omaha for the College World Series and then not… was upsetting. But saying goodbye to a lot of great teammates at the end of our season at Vanderbilt was especially sad.”
However, nearly half of his teammates from Nashville followed Macias north to play summer baseball. Eight Vandy players are sprinkled throughout Cape League rosters.
Macias doesn’t find it strange to now be playing against his college teammates. “It’s actually pretty cool and exciting,” he said.
Macias, who hit .300 with a .421 on-base percentage at the top of Vanderbilt's lineup, was accompanied to Hyannis by teammate and longtime friend Shea Robin, who was the starting catcher for the Commodores and has the same job with the Mets this summer.
Macias and Robin both hail from the Houston, Tex., suburb of The Woodlands, so their journey to the Cape League has taken the same path. In addition to sharing the same home town, the same Cape League team, the same university and the same shattered dream, they are connected by one man -- coach Tim Corbin.
Corbin, who next year will enter his sixth season as Vanderbilt’s head coach, has raised the bar of quality, respect and willpower in his team and other baseball communities across the country. In May, his team won the first regular season Southeastern Conference championship in the history of the Vanderbilt baseball program. And although the Commodores’ hopes of playing in the College World Series were dashed, Corbin believes they can reach that goal next season.
The Hyannis Mets have two of the most talented and passionate Vandy players this summer, but six other Commodores are showcasing their skills with four other Cape League teams. Josh Zeid and Brett
Jacobson are trying to turn it around for the struggling Harwich Mariners, while versatile right-handed pitcher Nick Christiani, who can start, pitch middle relief and close, burns it up for the red-hot Orleans Cardinals. Center fielder Andrew Giobbi traded in his Vanderbilt Commodores uniform for a Falmouth Commodores uniform, while left-handed pitcher Mikie Minor is making his CCBL debut alongside Dominic de la Osa, who returns for his second summer with the Wareham Gatemen.
The presence of Vanderbilt ‘Dores is also being felt in other areas of the country this summer. Ryan Flaherty, a hard-hitting shortstop, was set to return to the Hyannis Mets for a second season until he was yanked from the roster to travel around the country with Team USA.
And, former Brewster Whitecap and Vanderbilt graduate Cody Crowell was drafted in the 14th round by Toronto, and is currently pitching for the Blue Jays’ farm team in Auburn, N.Y.
These Vanderbilt teammates will be scattered across the country for the upcoming months. But, whatever diamond they may be playing on, their Commodore connection binds them together. As the saying goes, “Once a ’Dore, always a ’Dore.”
By Lauren Malone, CCBL Intern [email protected]