07/22/2007 2:39 PM
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
(14 July – 20 July 2007)
Coca Cola Pitcher and Player of the Week
COCA COLA PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Chatham’s Tom Milone (Southern California) earned this week’s Coca-Cola Pitcher of the Week honors by starting two games and pitching 15 innings. Against the Orleans Cardinals, the 6-1, 215-pound left-hander allowed just two hits and struck out six while giving up just one earned run. He did not walk a batter. Then, against the Cotuit Kettleers, he pitched a 5-0 complete game shutout. Milone struck out nine, walked only one and collected his fourth win against a single loss.
COCA COLA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
David Adams (Virginia) was selected as this week’s Coca-Cola Player of the Week due to his outstanding performances at the plate. Adams, a second baseman for the red hot Falmouth Commodores, drove in six runs while batting at a .524 clip, which included three doubles and one triple. On Sunday, July 15, against the Brewster Whitecaps, Adams went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs to help the Commodores to a 14-12 victory. His three RBI Saturday against the Orleans Cardinals were instrumental in Falmouth’s 6-4 victory.
Brewster Can Manage Just One Victory
And a Tie During Week Marred by Rainout
BREWSTER, Mass. -- Just like everyone else in the Cape Cod Baseball League Brewster was victimized by a Wednesday rainout, which was to be made up this week. The Whitecaps won just once since last Saturday, while losing three times and tying once.
After weekend losses to Bourne (11-6) and Falmouth (14-12), Brewster hosted the first-place Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Stony Brook Field on Monday. Y-D scored early and often en route to an easy 9-2 victory.
Whitecaps starter Brad Kledzick (Wake Forest) was knocked around in the five innings he pitched, allowing six earned runs. The lone bright spot offensively for Brewster was outfielder Jacob Priday (Missouri) who went 2-for-4 and drove in the Whitecaps’ only two runs.
A strong outing by starter Ryan Cook (USC) helped Brewster defeat West Division powerhouse Bourne, 5-2, on Thursday.
The 6-3, 215-pound right-hander pitched eight strong innings, scattering six hits while striking out seven and allowing just two earned runs. Lee Land (Wake Forest) worked the ninth, retiring the three batters he faced, two by strikeouts, to record his league-leading fifth save of the season.
The offense was powered by outfielder Charlie Cutler (California) who went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs. Lead-off man Blake Tekotte (Miami) added a solo home run in the sixth.
On Friday, the Whitecaps hosted Chatham and battled the A’s on even terms into extra innings. The score was 2-2 when the game was called after 11 innings due to darkness.
Brewster received a great pitching performance, led by starter Matt Couch (San Diego), who struck out six in the seven innings he worked while allowing just two runs. Couch was followed by Keith Shinaberry (Texas) and Cory Hamilton (California-Irvine), each of whom pitched one scoreless inning. Ben Hornbeck (Kansas State) pitched the last two shutout innings.
Offensively, Jacob Priday (Missouri) stole the show again for the Whitecaps driving in both runs. Blake Tekotte (Miami), the lead-off man, collected two hits and scored one runs. Michael Marseco (Samford) came around to score the tying run in the bottom of the eighth.
Brewster faced four road games this week, leading up to Saturday’s All-Star Game in Wareham, where the Whitecaps will have five representatives – starters Yonder Alonso (Miami) at first base and Cutler in left field; plus reserve outfielder Tekotte and right-handed bullpen pitchers Mike Colla (Arizona) and Couch. Whitecaps manager Bob Macaluso wil be a member of the East Division coaching staff. John Hannemann, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Four Teammates from Same College
Benefit Tarheel Players and Chatham A’s
CHATHAM, Mass – Each team in the Cape Cod Baseball League tends to have one college with which they form a relationship and receive players each summer. For the Chatham A’s, it’s the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Every summer the A’s recruit at least one player from UNC, and this year is no exception. Four players from the North Carolina baseball team are wearing Chatham blue.
“We usually have three or four going back 10 years now or more,” said the A’s field manager, John Schiffner. “It would be a strange summer if we didn’t have somebody from North Carolina on the team. And having four players from the runner-up (in the College World Series) two years in a row makes me glad to have those guys. They are experienced winners, they come from a quality program and they are great kids.”
Kyle Seager of the Tarheels is the A’s second baseman and has had a successful season so far, with a .319 batting average and five runs batted in. Pitchers Rob Wooten and Alex White are also members of the A’s. Wooten, who arrived recently, has yet to see action, but White has started one game and has a 3.29 earned run average. The fourth member of the A’s to come from UNC is catcher Tim Federowicz.
Getting two pitchers and a catcher from the same college is especially helpful because they are already familiar with each other. Federowicz said that being used to the pitching styles of White and Wooten helped smooth his adjustment to Chatham and the Cape League.
“It’s easier for me to work with our pitchers because we stay on the same page,” said Federowicz. “You don’t have to learn how to catch new guys.
Schiffner also recognized the benefits to having pitchers and a catcher from the same college.
“It’s nice when you have the catcher and two of their pitchers because they are all familiar with one another, which is a real big help,” said Schiffner. “You really try to get more than one guy from a team just so everybody has a buddy when they arrive … it makes things a little bit easier, instead of being kind of a lone wolf.”
Wooten, who arrived later than his three Tarheel teammates, said that having college teammates on the Orleans squad has minimized the overwhelming aspects of Cape League baseball.
“It made the transition a whole lot easier,” he said. “Coming here and actually living with them, and letting them show me the ropes and what to do and where to go made everything go smoothly.”
Gabriella Remington, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Harwich Sees Four-Game Winning Streak End;
Mariners to Face Chatham Three Nights in a Row
HARWICH, Mass. -- Like the rest of the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Harwich Mariners had some time off last week, thanks to Wednesday’s rain-out against Chatham.
“In a week like this, it’s a good time to get some rest, then make a run in the last three weeks of the season,” said infielder Terrence Dayleg (Western Kentucky).
After weekend victories over Wareham and Hyannis, the Mariners took on the Cardinals Monday night in Orleans. Harwich ran its modest winning streak to four in a row with a 4-1 victory, thanks to a dominating start from right-hander Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt).
Jacobson went seven strong innings allowing no runs on only four hits while walking one and striking out seven. Jacobson improved his record to 2-3 on the season and lefty Evan Crawford (Auburn) picked up his third save, striking out three in 1-2/3 innings.
Key hits for Harwich were provided by Alex Avila’s (Alabama) double to right field which drove in two runs and Jake Opitz’s (Nebraska) solo home run, his first of the season. Opitz also scored twice.
With the off-day on Tuesday and the rain-out on Wednesday the Mariners next game was Thursday at South Yarmouth against the Red Sox. Division-leading Yarmouth-Dennis snapped Harwich’s win streak with a 7-4 victory.
Harwich actually jumped out to a 4-0 lead by scoring four runs in the third inning, highlighted by Kyle Day’s (Michigan State) three-run blast over the right field fence. But that lead was short-lived as the Red Sox rallied for seven unanswered runs.
Josh Zeid (Tulane), making his third start of the season, lasted only 4-1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs.
Y-D’s Sean Ochinko (LSU) responded with a three-run homer of his own in the seventh inning off reliever Danny Farquhar (Louisiana-Lafayette) to break the 4-4 tie.
Harwich’s return home to Whitehouse Field on Friday was anything but successful as Orleans gained a measure of revenge for Monday’s loss. The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they coasted to an 11-1 win.
Mariner starter Dan Hudson (Old Dominion) pitched five innings, allowing four runs, three earned. Reliever Mark Willinsky (Santa Clara) was rudely welcomed by the Cardinals, who roughed him up for seven earned runs in 2-1/3 innings.
Infielder Terrence Dayleg (Western Kentucky), who had never pitched in college, finished the game on the mound for the Mariners, pitching 1-1/3 scoreless innings, including a strikeout.
The lone offensive bright spot for the Mariners was second baseman Johnny Giovatella’s (New Orleans) towering home run to left field.
The Mariners had an unusual schedule coming up this week – facing Chatham three times in consecutive games, thanks to a rescheduled contest on Wednesday to make up for last Wednesday’s rain-out.
Four Harwich players will accompany manager Steve Englert to Saturday’s All-Star Game in Wareham. James will be one of the East Division team’s coaches and will bring along starting second baseman Cole Figueroa (Florida), reserve outfielder Day, and bullpen pitchers Corey Young (Seton Hall), a left-hander, and Evan Crawford (Auburn), a right-hander. John Hannemann, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Florida’s Tignor Settles in Nicely
As Orleans Cardinals’ Catcher
ORLEANS, Mass. – According to Hampton Tignor (Florida), catchers are responsible for three things: always blocking the ball, being in charge of the defense and, most importantly, being the best looking player on the field.
Of course, this is just what he tells the youngsters who attend the morning clinics that the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Orleans Cardinals host every week.
For Tignor, becoming a catcher had little to do with the three rules above.
“I really enjoy catching and I enjoy interacting with the pitcher and controlling the game,” he said. “I feel that as the catcher you really get to control the game.”
Tignor, who was notified in the fall by his coach at Florida that he would be playing for the Cardinals this summer, said one of the most difficult transitions into the Cape League was getting the team to play as a unit. But for Tignor, the adjustment is well worth it.
“The Cape League is famous for being the best summer baseball (league) in the country,” said Tignor. “And I wanted to get better. I wanted to play against the best competition out there.”
Tignor admits that the Cape League has not been all work and no play. Like many of his teammates, he has enjoyed the perks of being a baseball player on the Cape. One of those has been living with his host family. Tignor said that he even preferred living with his host family over living on his own at college because of his host mom’s cooking.
“(She) makes me breakfast every morning,” he said. “And I love watching baseball games with my host dad.”
Tignor has also been taking advantage of Cape Cod’s beautiful beaches and whjen he’s not working out or at the beach, he visits teammates from Florida who are playing for other teams in the league.
One of the best parts about the Cape League for Tignor has been establishing friendships with his new teammates.
“It’s really awesome getting to know people from all over the country,” he said. “One of the things that I thought was really cool was that I watched Ollie Linton (California-Irvine), in the College World Series, then he came out here and now I’m playing with him.”
Another fun thing about being part of an organization that attracts people from all over the country has been getting to know the Orleans media intern, a student at Tignor’s arch-rival school, Florida State.
“We clash on occasion and we like to talk trash to each other,” said Tignor. “But of course it’s all in fun.”
Tignor also enjoyed getting to play with guys from colleges in the South Eastern Conference because next spring they will get to face each other on the diamond. Possibly the best part about being a Cardinal, Tignor said, is having Mark Sobolewski (Miami) as a teammate. Tignor said the two have been playing baseball together since they were 9 years old.
“It’s really cool when you grow up playing together -- we played in high school together and now we’re playing in the Cape League together,” Tignor said. Gabriella Remington, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Hot Bats Carry Red Sox to 20th Victory
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- Every summer, Cape Cod hosts not only the nation’s best collegiate players, but some of its outstanding high school players as well. During the Cape Cod High School Classic -- to be held this year at Spillane Field in Wareham on July 27 -- high school players from around the country come to showcase their skills, and it was just a few years ago, while on the Cape to participate, that Yarmouth-Dennis first baseman Sean Ochinko (Lousiana State) got his first taste of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“When I was a junior in high school, I played in the Cape Cod Classic and watched the Cape League and thought how cool it’d be to get to play in that,” said Ochinko, who has been named to the East Division All-Star Team for Saturday’s game at Spillane Field.
After a successful year at LSU, Ochinko’s coach made a few calls and got him a spot on the Yarmouth-Dennis roster, a spot that Ochinko has filled with distinction. Ochinko drove in five runs this past week to run his RBI total to 16. His offensive production helped the Red Sox to a 3-2 record for the week as they became the first team to collect 20 victories in 2007.
Pitching played an important role in Y-D’s 20-9-1 season through week’s end, but the Red Sox bats really impressed the crowds at Red Wilson Field and around the league. Entering this week’s play, the Red Sox led the league in batting with a .277 team average and had 29 home runs, 13 more than the next closest team.
“We’ve just got a lot of good hitters and Coach (manager Scott Pickler) has helped us with little things about our swings here and there. We’ve got a lot of guys who work hard and really get after it -- a lot of guys who care,” said Ochinko.
The bats had a rare off night on Saturday as Orleans defeated the Red Sox, 5-1, but the next night Y-D got back on track and outscored West Division leader Bourne, 6-5. On Monday, the Red Sox defeated the Brewster Whitecaps, 9-2, with Ochinko driving in two runs and Gordon Beckham (Georgia) adding three more RBI. Left-hander Matt Wickswat (Santa Clara) posted his second win by pitching six strong innings.
Y-D made it three in a row on Thursday thanks to a three-run, seventh-inning homer by Ochinko. Jason Castro (Stanford) drove in two runs to help the cause and 6-foot, 8-inch right-hander Eddie Burns (Georgia Tech) pitched eight scoreless innings to move to a perfect 4-0.
Burns’ mound heroics earned him the starting berth for the East in Saturday’s 45th Cape Cod League All-Star Game. He’s one of seven Red Sox players named to the team, including fellow starters Castro, catcher; Beckham, shortstop, and Collin Cowgill (Kentucky), center field. Y-D’s all-star reserves are catcher Buster Posey (Florida State), left fielder Ochinko, and right-handed pitcher Nick Cassavechia (Baylor). Y-D’s Pickler will manage the East squad, assisted by the managers of the division’s other four teams.
Like the rest of the league, the Red Sox won’t have a league off day this Wednesday as they will make up the game against Falmouth that was rained out last Wednesday. Kevin Wolfe, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Bourne Braves Finish Week Four Points
Ahead of Second-Place Falmouth in West Division
BOURNE, Mass. – The Bourne Braves finished last week right where they started – atop the Cape Cod Baseball League’s West Division standings with time running out on their challengers.
Bourne had spanked Brewster, 11-6, Saturday night in a tune-up for its showdown with East Division pacesetter Yarmouth-Dennis on Sunday at South Yarmouth. In a game many expected would be a preview of the Cape League playoff finals next month, the Braves were edged by the high-flying Red Sox, 6-5.
Then it was off to Brewster, where the Whitecaps dealt the still-reeling Braves a 5-2 defeat, in the process gaining a measure of revenge for Saturday’s thumping by the Braves.
Just when it appeared that Bourne might be going into a slump that would open the door for streaking Falmouth, the Braves got their act together at home on Friday, edging Y-D, 3-2.
The 3-win, 2-loss week left Bourne with a 17-11-2 record for 36 points, four ahead of the 16-14-0 Commodores, who are still entertaining thoughts of climbing past the Braves before the season ends.
Five Bourne pitchers combined to hold the Red Sox to just three hits, while striking out nine. The win went to reliever Matt Gorgen (California), who relieved starter D.J. Mitchell (Clemson) in the sixth inning. Mitchell hit four batters and walked two, but had allowed just two hits and one run through five innings. Jordan Flasher (George Mason) pitched a one-two-three ninth for his fifth save.
Matt Hall (Arizona State) was the offensive standout for Bourne. He hit a solo home run in the third and led off the decisive sixth with a ground-rule double. He scored when the league’s leading hitter, Kevin Hoeff (Iowa) tripled him home.
Y-D squandered several scoring chances as Bourne’s moundsmen proved tough when they had to be. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings. Liz Hoffman, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Injury-Plagued Cotuit Falls Into 3-Way
Tie for Last Place in West Division
COTUIT, Mass. -- No manager wants to see an “X” next to the name of one of his players on the team roster. “X” means that because of an injury, the player has been removed from the active roster and placed on the disabled list. The most recent Kettleers to join the DL are power hitters Mike Bianucci (Auburn) and Jason Rook (Appalachian State).
According to sources, Bianucci is out with a hip flexor injury, while the nature of teammate Rook’s injury was not announced. Bianucci and Rook join catcher Yan Gomes (Tennessee) and several Kettleer pitchers on the DL. The rash of injuries resulted in a string of seven straight losses, dropping Cotuit from a hopeful second in the Cape Cod Baseball League’s West Division to a three-way tie for third – and last -- place with slumping Hyannis and Wareham. The Kettleers have not won since they beat Wareham, 7-4, on July 11, a stretch in which they were outscored, 43-23.
The loss of Bianuuci and Rook is a major blow to Cotuit’s offense. Bianucci was batting just .228, but had belted three home runs, while Rook was hitting a solid .333 and had driven in six runs.
Ryne White (Purdue), one of the West Division’s best hitters, remains an integral part of Cotuit’s offense. Through games of July 19, White was eighth in the league in batting at .321, with 27 hits and 15 runs scored. Tony Delmonico (Florida State) was batting .310 and leading the Kettleers in home runs (3) and RBI (17).
Cotuit continued to lead the league in stolen bases with 47, as Josh Harrison (Cincinnati) topped the team with 10 and the now-injured Bianucci was second with nine. The Kettleers are being challenged, however, as Brewster (43) and Yarmouth-Dennis (41) are closing quickly.
Cotuit’s pitching situation has reached near-critical mass. With injuries further depleting the staff, Kettleer hurlers had a last-in-the-league 5.34 team earned run average and had served up a league-high total of 147 bases on balls.
On the bright side, two Kettleers were chosen to the West Division All-Star Team for Saturday’s game at Spillane Field in Wareham. Reese Havens (South Carolina) will start at shortstop and right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom (Purdue) will be in the bullpen.
So far, July has been a rough month for Cotuit, but the good news is that the Kettleers are just eight points behind second-place Falmouth. If they can overcome their injuries and get a bit of consistency from their depleted pitching staff, manager Mike Roberts’ crew still could find themselves in post-season play. Erica Bailey, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Falmouth Commodores Solidify Hold on No. 2
Spot in West Division as Pitching Staff Dominates
FALMOUTH, Mass. -- There is a well-known line in the baseball movie “Bull Durham”: “You don’t mess with a winning streak.”
And for the Falmouth Commodores, that quote could not be more relevant. The boys from Falmouth are currently on an incredible hot streak, rolling to eight straight victories. The Commodores had not lost since July 8 and have replaced Cotuit as the No. 2 team behind Bourne in the Cape Cod Baseball League’s West Division. After struggling at the beginning of the summer, the Commodores are now operating at full throttle and have proved that they can be the most dangerous team in the league.
While Falmouth’s offensive stars, David Adams (Virginia), Aja Barto (Tulane), Conor Gillaspie (Wichita) and Matt Hague (Washington), have been a driving force in the team’s surge, thanks to impressive stats like Gillaspie’s .348 batting average (the best average on the squad and the second best in the league) and Barto’s 12 stolen bases, it is the Commodores’ pitching staff that has dominated the competition in game after game.
Falmouth has nothing but aces in its starting rotation, including All-Star Game starter Aaron Crow (Missouri), Christian Friedrich (Eastern Kentucky), Kyle Gibson (Missouri), Shooter Hunt (Tulane) and Aaron Shafer (Wichita).
Crow, a 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore from Kansas, best illustrated his role as a go-to pitcher with his league-best ERA of 0.64 in 28 innings of work. In his most recent appearance -- against Hyannis on July 16 -- Crow retired the first 11 batters he faced. In seven innings, he gave up one run and fanned five.
Gibson, a freshman from Indiana, is among the seven Falmouth players named to the West Division team for Saturday’s game at Wareham, joining fellow pitchers Crow, Friedrich and Luke Burnett (Louisiana Tech), plus starting third baseman Gillaspie and outfielders Hague and Reese Havens (South Carolina). He has been a key contributor, with the league’s second best ERA of 1.06. Gibson had walked just six batters while striking out 37 in his 34 innings of work.
Southpaw Friedrich, a two-time All-OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) selection for his performance at Eastern Kentucky, is the strikeout master of the starting rotation with 42 strikeouts in 29 innings, while Hunt, who spent his 2006 summer season with the Commodores, compiled 35 strikeouts in 22-1/3 innings. Erica Bailey, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Hyannis Mets Know They Need Hot Streak
If They Hope to Capture a Playoff Berth
HYANNIS, Mass. -- After starting the week with a 6-1 victory over the Cotuit Kettleers, the Hyannis Mets lost three in a row before finally winning again on Saturday. The Mets’ 11-17-1 record tied them with Cotuit for fourth place in the Cape Cod Baseball League’s West Division.
Despite tough times, it hasn’t been a lost summer as there have been several standout individual performers for the Mets. One of those impressing the crowds at McKeon Park has been outfielder Joey Gonzales (UC Riverside), who says he enjoys playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League and is making the most of his time here.
“The level of competition is phenomenal,” said Gonzales, whose personal conditioning program includes water sports. “There’s a pond right next to the house I’ve been staying in, I’ve been swimming in it every day, going out in a row boat.”
Gonzales, whose summer job is working at a paintball store, has been swinging the bat well since arriving, hitting at .304 in 13 games. He had two RBI against Harwich last Sunday and one RBI Thursday at Chatham, but neither effort was enough to lift the Mets, who lost both games.
The Mets may have had a chance to come back against Chatham had a thick fog not rolled in causing the game to be called after 4 ½ innings. The decision to end it was made after a routine fly ball was lost in the fog and dropped harmlessly between two Mets outfielders. After the next batter grounded back to the mound and pitcher Bryce Stowell (UC Irvine) threw him out at first, the umpires decided it was no longer safe to play.
Jason Franzblau (Winthrop) went eight solid innings on Saturday against Cotuit, striking out eight and giving up just one earned run to improve to 2-3 on the season. Third baseman James Darnell (South Carolina) and right fielder Dan Brewer (Bradley) each drove in one run and the Mets capitalized on four errors to collect their six runs and defeat the Kettleers.
The Mets got back on track when they welcomed the Falmouth Commodores to McKeon Park on Friday. Hyannis put up eight runs in the first five innings and held on as the Commodores roared back with seven runs of their own. Darnell led the offensive charge with a three-run, first-inning home run. Brewer added a solo shot in the very next at-bat, and outfielder David Macias (Vanderbilt) drove in two runs in the fourth.
With time running out in the season, the Mets still had a chance to make the playoffs, but to do so they’ll need to get hot -- and all at the same time
“We just need to play better as a team,” said Gonzales. “Either our hitters have a good day or our pitchers have a good day -- we just need to put it all together.” Kevin Wolfe, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Three Wins in Five Games Keep Wareham’s
Flickering Playoff Hopes Burning
WAREHAM, Mass. – The Wareham Gatemen managed to keep their flickering hopes for a Cape Cod Baseball League playoff berth burning this past week by winning three of five games.
One of those losses, however was a major disappointment because it came at the hands of West Division runner-up Falmouth, the team the Gatemen must overtake if they are to qualify for post-season play. Over-all, though it must go down as a successful week for Wareham, which is finally getting quality pitching starts and timely hitting.
The Gatemen got off on the wrong foot Saturday night at Harwich, dropping an 8-1 decision, but they rebounded nicely at home on Sunday when they blanked Cotuit, 3-0. Another home victory on Monday, this one a 6-4 decision over Chatham, had Wareham fans daydreaming about the playoffs.
After Tuesday’s off day and Wednesday’s rainout, the Gatemen hosted second-place Falmouth on Thursday, hoping to cut two points off the Commodores’ lead. But it was not to be, as Falmouth won the tense pitching duel, 2-1.
Another tight battle Friday went Wareham’s way, however, as the Gatemen traveled to Cotuit and came away with a 3-2 victory.
The Gatemen finished the week with a staff earned run average of 3.06, second best in the entire 10-team league. Individually, left-handers Andy Oliver (Oklahoma State) and Wade Miley (Southeastern Louisiana) ranked fourth and fifth with ERAs of 1.69 and 1.86, respectively. Both were among the league leaders in strikeouts as well, with Miley No. 1 with 46 K’s and Oliver third with 39.
Beemer Weems (Baylor) wielded a hot bat for the Gatemen in the victory over Cotuit. He went 3-for-5, including a double. Michael Demperio (Texas) was on base four times with three walks and a single. He also scored two of his team’s three runs.
As the week ended, the Gatemen found themselves in a three-way tie with Hyannis and Cotuit for third place, eight points behind second-place Falmouth. Liz Hoffman, CCBL intern ([email protected])
As top players from the Cape Cod Baseball League’s East and West Division square off in the annual All-Star Game Saturday in Wareham, old-timers recall that these games have produced many memorable moments over the years.
Perhaps no such moment will ever surpass the infamous bleachers collapse, which occurred prior to the Aug. 14, 1961, game at Otis Air Force Base, one of the last all-star get-togethers held before the Cape League’s “modern era” began in 1963.
The Otis game was sponsored by P. Ballantine and Sons of Newark, N.J., which in those days was a prime broadcast sponsor of the New York Yankees. As a result, several Yankee personalities were in attendance, including play-by-play announcer and former Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto, right-handed pitcher Bill Stafford, catcher Elston Howard and first baseman Bill “Moose” Skowron. Other celebrities at the game were American League President and Mrs. Joe Cronin, Osterville summer residents, and former Dodger catcher Roy Campanella, confined to a wheelchair after having his all-star playing career cut short by a tragic auto accident.
Few can recall who played in the game or whether it was won by the Upper Cape League or the Lower Cape League, but foremost in the minds of those who were there was the collapse of a section of bleachers along the third base line just as pre-game ceremonies were getting under way.
Several people were injured when the seven-foot high metal stands with wooden seats came crashing down. One witness recalled the reaction of Rizzuto as he stood near home plate and watched as the stands started to fall: “The Scooter’s jaw dropped, his eyes widened and he exclaimed – what else? – ‘Holy cow!’ ” Later, Rizzuto told a reporter that when the stands started to crumble, “There was a loud roar like a football crowd at the kickoff.”
Local sportscaster Ed Semprini, who along with sidekick Dan Serpico, was broadcasting the game on West Yarmouth radio stations WOCB, AM&FM, said he saw Stafford and Howard run over to offer their assistance, but Air Police and other Air Force emergency personnel had quickly taken charge of the situation and the players’ help was not needed.
A total of 14 people were injured and they were taken to the base hospital for treatment. Quick action by Air Force personnel prevented panic, and the game went on after a 20-minute delay, almost as if nothing had happened. Officials estimated that 3,500 people were there that night.
For the record, the Upper Cape All-Stars, managed by Manny Pena of Sagamore, defeated the Lower Cape All-Stars, whose manager was John Halunen of Yarmouth. The game itself was a classic, and 10 innings were needed to settle things. Reserve second baseman Bill Prizio (Holy Cross) of Cotuit delivered the winning hit when his two-out single up the middle delivered Hal Holyfield of Barnstable from second base for a 5-4 walk-off victory.
The Lower Cape all-stars had forced extra innings with a two-run outburst of their own in the top of the ninth.
Winning pitcher was Cotuit lefty Bob Butkus, now a member of the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. In fact, both squads’ rosters were peppered with the names of players who, like Butkus, who would eventually be honored with Hall of Fame membership. Among them: Bill Livesey of Dennis, Merrill “Red” Wilson of Yarmouth and Allen “Buzzy” Wilcox of Orleans, as well as Upper Cape manager Pena.
Since the so-called “modern era” began in 1963, the Cape League All-Star Game has attracted fans and major league scouts from all over the country.
In the early years of the mid-summer classic, the CCBL All-Stars played the best performers from the Cranberry League or the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, often meeting at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium.
The current format of playing locally, East vs. West, began in 1988 in Orleans and featured three future MLB standouts in Jeff Bagwell of Chatham, Mo Vaughn of Wareham and Frank Thomas of Orleans, who won the inaugural home run hitting contest. Thomas, now with the Toronto Blue Jays, is the only member of that triumvirate still active. Last month (June 28), he hit the 500th home run of his career, becoming the 21st player in MLB history to do so. It was a three-run shot off Minnesota’s Carlos Silva.
PLAY ANOTHER DAY: Games postponed July 18 dues to inclement weather were rescheduled for Wednesday, July 25. They include Orleans at Bourne, Brewster at Cotuit and Wareham at Hyannis, all at 5 p.m., and Y-D at Falmouth and Chatham at Harwich, both at 7.
FIRST TO 20: The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox became the first Cape League team to reach 20 wins with their exciting 7-4 win over Harwich Thursday. Eddie Burns (Georgia Tech) pitched a three-hitter over eight innings and teammate Sean Ochinko ((Louisiana State) blasted a three-run homer over the left-field fence for the winning margin. The 1979 Hyannis Mets hold the modern day record 33 wins and 67 points. The 1964 Cotuit Kettleers hold the record for best winning percentage at .912 (31-3)
RED-HOT COMMODORES: Falmouth captured its eighth straight victory Thursday night, defeating Wareham, 2-1. Kyle Gibson (Missouri) hurled a four-hitter and struck out seven over six innings and Joey Wong (Oregon State) drove in Andrew Giobbi (Vanderbilt) with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. The Commodores are just two points behind Western Division leading Bourne.
SEVEN … AND COUNTING: With Chatham’s 4-3 win over Hyannis Thursday in the books, field manager John Schiffner had 328 Cape League victories -- just seven away from becoming the Cape League’s all-time winningest manager during the modern era, eclipsing the mark of 334 held by Don Reed. Reed, who led Y-D to four straight playoff appearances and Wareham to an additional nine straight winning seasons, posted a 334-214-19 career record.
ACCOUNTING PURPOSES: The Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game will again be presented by the leading banks of Cape Cod, including Bank of America, TD Banknorth and Eastern Bank. Also supporting this mid-season classic are Cape Cod Five Cents Saving Bank, Cape Cod Cooperative Bank and Citizens Bank. In the non-banking category, Mid-Cape Home Centers and Merrill Lynch are also sponsors of the event.
The game will take place at Wareham’s Spillane field on Saturday, July 28, starting at 6 p.m., after many pre-game festivities, including the Baseball Express Home Run Hitting Contest.
WHO’S HOT … AND WHO’S NOT: Just as he has most of the season, Kevin Hoef (Iowa) of the Bourne Braves was still leading the CCBL with a .375 batting average as the week winded down.
Shane Peterson (Long Beach State) of the Hyannis Mets was tied for the lead in hits (34) with Falmouth’s Matt Hague (Clemson), while batting 340, third over-all in the CCBL.
Slugging Y-D infielder Gordon Beckham (Georgia) still leads the league with eight homers and 15 extra base hits, and is tied with Dennis Raben (Miami) of Orleans with 24 RBI … Blake Tekotte (Miami) of Brewster leads the league with 15 stolen bases.
Josh Lindblom (Purdue) of Cotuit and Burns have each won four games, while Yarmouth-Dennis closer Nick Cassavechia (Baylor) led the league with seven saves.
Wade Miley (Southeast Louisiana) of Wareham led the league with 46 strikeouts, followed by Christian Friedrich (Eastern Kentucky) of Falmouth with 42 and Andy Oliver (Oklahoma) of Wareham with 39.
Bourne compiled the highest team batting average (.277, followed closely by Yarmouth-Dennis (.276). Orleans (.218), Wareham (.225) and Harwich (.239) are the bottom three teams.
The Orleans Cardinals are still the only CCBL team with an ERA of under 3.00 at 2.54, followed by Y-D (3.14) and Wareham (3.12). Cotuit was last in team pitching with a 5.39 ERA.
GAME OF THE WEEK ON WBZ: This week’s CCBL Game of the Week on WBZ Radio 1030.com featured the Hyannis at Wareham on Monday, July 23, starting at 6:50 p.m. Broadcast legend Fred Cusick provides the play-by-play.
GAME OF THE WEEK ON WBZ: This week’s CCBL Game of the Week on WBZ Radio 1030.com featured Hyannis at Wareham, Monday, July 23, starting at 6:50. Broadcast legend Fred Cusick provides the play-by-play.
Interns: Erica Bailey, John Hannemann, Liz Hoffman,
Gabriella Remington, Kevin Wolfe