08/05/2007 2:50 PM
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
(29 July – 4 August 2007)
Coca Cola Pitcher and Player of the Week
COCA COLA PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Bourne Braves pitcher Rick Zagone (Missouri) was named Coca-Cola Pitcher of the Week after throwing a complete-game shutout against the Wareham Gatemen on Saturday. The 6-2, 215-pound left-hander surrendered only five hits and two walks while setting down 10 Gatemen on strikeouts, nine of them swinging. He lowered his ERA to 2.09, good for seventh in the league, as he became just the fourth CCBL pitcher to record a shutout this season.
COCA COLA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chatham A’s catcher Tim Federowicz (North Carolina) went 9-for-10 at the plate and drove in six runs in just three games to earn the latest Coca-Cola Player of the Week honors. Federowicz’s most impressive performance of the week came on Thursday when the 5-11, 200-pound backstop went 3-for-3, including a two-run homer, a run-scoring double, a sacrifice fly and a run-producing single to center to complete a five-RBI night. Kevin Wolfe, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
Brewster Whitecaps Officially Eliminated
From Cape League Playoffs in 5-4 Loss to Orleans
BREWSTER, Mass. – The Brewster Whitecaps entered the penultimate week of the Cape Cod Baseball League season with hopes of overtaking the Chatham A’s for second place and a spot in the East Division playoffs. Trailing the A’s by just four points, that goal seemed possible after the Whitecaps edged the Wareham Gatemen, 3-2, on Monday night.
But subsequent losses to Yarmouth-Dennis and Orleans sealed the Whitecaps’ fate for 2007.
Mike Colla (Arizona) pitched six strong innings against Wareham, allowing only one run while striking out nine, but he left the game with a no-decision. Lee Land (Wake Forest) would pick up his first victory with some ninth-inning offensive heroics from his teammates.
Michael Marseco (Samford) led things off with a one-out single and promptly stole second. Blake Tekotte (Miami) singled, moving Marseco to third. Tekotte then attempted to steal second and Maresco trotted home with the winning run when the throw sailed into the outfield.
Brewster faced its biggest challenge of the week on Tuesday against the visiting Y-D Red Sox. “If you want to make the playoffs, you have to beat the best and, well, Y-D is the best,” said Adam Warren (North Carolina).
Despite a fine pitching effort by starter Eric Davis (Stanford) and two hits and a walk by all-star Tekotte, Brewster was unable to capitalize on its six hits and the Red Sox managed a 3-0 victory. On Friday in Orleans, the Cardinals put the final nail in Brewster’s coffin with a hard-earned, 5-4 victory.
Matt Couch (San Diego) had a quality start for the Whitecaps, pitching six innings in which he allowing three runs, only one of which was earned, while striking out eight. The bullpen could not hold off the Cardinals, however.
Offensively, Tekotte reached base twice with a walk and a hit. Yonder Alonso (Miami) and David Doss (South Alabama) drove in all the runs for the Whitecaps, but it wasn’t enough as the Cardinals produced a one-run victory that officially eliminated the Whitecaps from playoff contention.
Brewster plays its final game of 2007 at Chatham on Wednesday, Aug. 8. John Hannemann, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Chatham A’s Credit Adjustment
To Wooden Bats for Successful Season
CHATHAM, Mass. – One of the biggest adjustments college players must make when joining the Cape Cod Baseball League is learning to hit with a wooden bat. And with the second highest batting average in the league, the Chatham A’s obviously have made the necessary adjustments to be successful in a wooden bat league.
The key differences players must get used to when using a wooden bat are its weight and the size of its “sweet spot.” Aluminum bats used by all college teams generally have a large sweet spot and weigh 31 or 32 ounces, compared to wooden bats, which have a smaller sweet spot and generally weigh 33 or 34 ounces.
Adjusting a player’s batting style is no easy task. It often requires not only a change in his swing, but also in his mental attitude.
“It’s a matter of putting the ego in the back pocket and understanding that they can’t swing as hard and understanding that they need to get their hands inside the baseball,” said Chatham skipper John Schiffner, the most successful field manager in Cape League history. “They are doing that now. They realize it’s not an aluminum bat in their hands and you can see that in our batting average, which has improved quite a bit in the past three weeks.”
This improvement was not only a factor in the A’s successful quest for a berth in the post-season playoffs, but for those players who successfully make the adjustment, it boosts their chances of being drafted by a major league team.
Andrew Crisp (South Carolina), who had a .283 batting average with the A’s, is glad to be able to show MLB scouts his true batting average.
“You really don’t get any cheap hits,” said Crisp. “So if you can hit well with wood, what can they take away from you? They can’t say that you can’t hit with wood in the major leagues because you’ve already shown that you can. So it’s helped me a lot.”
Sean O’Brien (Virginia Tech), who sported a .241 batting average this summer, said the most important thing with a wooden bat is making sure to hit the ball within the sweet spot, because hitting an inside ball causes a broken bat. Another adjustment for O’Brien has been the difference in power with a wooden bat as opposed to an aluminum bat.
“A lot of guys don’t hit as many home runs here as they do in school ball,” said O’Brien. “I think that is what has affected me the most.”
Pitchers love the wooden bats because their disadvantages to hitters tend to produce lower earned run averages and allow them to pitch inside without making a lot of mistakes.
Rob Wooten (North Carolina) said that the wooden bats have not affected his pitching style because a good hit on a wooden bat will still fly. So it’s still a matter of throwing the right pitch at the right time. Wooten said he maintains the same mindset as when he pitches in college. Gabriella Remington, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Harwich’s Jacobson Strikes Out 15 Mets;
Mariners Edge Y-D, 3-2, Before Big Home Crowd
HARWICH, Mass. – Like the rest of the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Harwich Mariners had a light schedule last week, playing only three games. On Wednesday, all the players and interns headed for Fenway Park in Boston, where the Red Sox honored the Cape League All-Stars.
“What a great experience it was to see our guys down on the field before the game and watch a baseball game in a historic park I have never been to before,” said Jared Bolden (Virginia Commonwealth).
Highlight performances for the week included Alex Avila’s (Alabama) 4-for-4 effort Monday night in a loss to the Hyannis Mets at Whitehouse Field and a 15-strikeout pitching gem by Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt) against the Orleans Cardinals on Tuesday at Eldredge Park. The Mariners ended the week with a satisfying 3-2 win over East Division leader Yarmouth-Dennis before the biggest home crowd of the summer.
Against the Mets, the Mariners led, 2-1, until the sixth inning when Hyannis exploded for six runs. Avila’s four hits included a double and a mammoth solo home run to right field. He also made a spectacular sliding catch near the dugout to end the ninth inning.
Jacobson’s spectacular strikeout show came in a 1-1 tie game that was called in the seventh inning because of fog. The right-hander faced only 21 batters in the six innings he worked. Harwich’s only run in the game was provided by Kyle Day (Michigan State), who homered in the fourth.
“Jacobson’s performance was just amazing and, the way he was going, I didn’t even notice it until the fifth inning,” said Mariners general manager John Reid.
The Mariners ended their week Friday when they hosted powerful Yarmouth-Dennis on Family Fun Night at Whitehouse Field. Boston Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster came to town and helped attract the largest and most vocal crowd of the season – more than 3,400 fans.
Harwich starter Dan Hudson (Old Dominion) pitched six scoreless innings, striking out nine. Hudson labored at times throwing 116 pitches. Steve Strausbaugh (Western Carolina) hit a moon shot three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to put the Mariners ahead to stay. Strausbaugh added a single for a 2-for-3 night at the plate.
Harwich’s bullpen preserved the victory for Hudson, although Y-D pushed across two runs to make it close. The three-headed monster of Ryan Kulik (Rowan), Danny Farquhar (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Evan Crawford (Auburn) held off the powerful Red Sox, and Crawford picked up his fifth save of the season.
Harwich’s final home game of the season comes on Wednesday, Aug. 8, against Brewster. John Hannemann, CCBL intern ([email protected])
California Surfer D’Arnaud Rides East Coast
Waves when Not on Field for Orleans Cardinals
ORLEANS, Mass. – Coming all the way from Long Beach, Calif., Chase D’Arnaud (Pepperdine) decided to switch coasts this summer and get a taste of the Atlantic Ocean. When he’s not in the Orleans Cardinals’ infield, he’s surfing the waves of Cape Cod with his Orleans roommate and college teammate Travis Tartamella.
“We like going to the beach a lot,” said D’Arnaud. “Since Travis and I are from California, we’ve gone out and surfed a few times. Tart actually just learned how to surf yesterday for the first time. After trying a bunch of times, he was finally able to get it.”
But don’t let D’Arnaud fool you. He is, in fact, a jack-of-all-trades. His many talents include not only baseball and surfing, but playing the guitar.
“I play the guitar also on the side,” said D’Arnaud. “So occasionally I like to serenade Tart to bed.”
D’Arnaud said that living with college buddy Tartamella has been helpful because it gave them both an element of familiarity, and made adjusting to the East Coast a little easier.
“We are really comfortable around each other,” said D’Arnaud. “I really don’t mind meeting new people, but he was one of my closest friends at Pepperdine, so it has made the summer a lot more fun than it would have been.”
D’Arnaud has also met his fair share of new people this summer. One of these new people has been D’Arnaud’s host mom, Cardinals general manager Sue Horton.
“Sue is a really happy lady,” said D’Arnaud. “I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face. She’s been a great host mom and she’s given us a really great living situation ... I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Meeting new teammates and playing for the Cardinals has been equally enjoyable for D’Arnaud.
“I love playing for Orleans,” said D’Arnaud. “All the players are great. There isn’t one guy that I don’t like, and I hope there aren’t any guys on the team who dislike me. The coaches are awesome and everything is really relaxed. You want to show up to the field and you want to show up just to meet with everybody, because whenever you’re not on the field you are just at home killing time or at the beach. It’s just fun being with all the guys.” Gabriella Remington, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Perseverance Key to Success in Long Season
For Playoff-Bound Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- After officially clinching a playoff spot, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox were one game away from claiming the East Division title for a second year in a row.
As far as All-Star infielder Jason Castro (Stanford) is concerned, all the Red Sox need to do to be successful in the playoffs is continue what they’ve been doing all year. “I think we just need to stick to what we’ve been doing all season and focus on the little things. Our pitching’s been good all year and we just need to keep that up,” said the 6-foot-3 utilityman, who has played the outfield, catcher and first base, and has been a successful designated hitter.
Castro, who hopes that playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League against the top competition in the nation will help him transition to the next level, said the best lesson he has taken away from the season so far is to never let up.
“The most important thing I’ve learned is perseverance,” he said. “It’s a long season and you’ve got to play hard every day. Giving it your best doesn’t always work out, but we get a chance to play every night, so if you have a bad game, it’s important to get your head on straight and put it behind you and play well the next game.”
Perseverance is just what the Red Sox have had through 40 games. Y-D has been on top of the East Division for much of the season and has shown no signs of letting up, winning eight of their last 10 games.
On Monday night, they scored a big win over the Orleans Cardinals. Castro and fellow All-Star catcher Buster Posey (Florida State) each had three RBI and Gordon Beckham (Georgia) added two more to lead the offense. Scott Green (Kentucky) pitched six innings, giving up just two hits, to collect his third win of the season as the Red Sox cruised to a 9-1 victory.
On Tuesday, it was on to Brewster, where the trio of Jerry Sullivan (Oral Roberts), Colin Lynch (St. John’s) and Nick Cassevechia (Baylor) blanked the Whitecaps, 3-0.
After the All Star recognition festivities at Fenway Park on Wednesday, and a league off day on Thursday, Y-D hoped to close out the week with a win at Harwich. But the Mariners had other ideas, and, despite a solid start from Eddie Burns (Georgia Tech), Y-D dropped a 3-2 decision to the Mariners.
Y-D wraps up the regular season this with back-to-back games against Cotuit. Final home game comes on Tuesday at Red Wilson Field against the Kettleers. Then on Wednesday, the Red Sox wrap things up at Lowell Park. Both games will start at 4:30 p.m. Kevin Wolfe, CCBL intern ([email protected])
No Longer Atop the Statistics, but Still No. 1
In the West, Bourne Continues to Find Ways to Win
BOURNE, Mass. — Summer ball has often, and increasingly so in recent years, been accused of promoting selfishness. Critics say players are encouraged to showcase their skills at the expense of team chemistry or winning games.
Through the first third of the 2007 summer season, the Bourne Braves proved that building impressive individual résumés and building a sense of team were not mutually exclusive. Braves players topped many of the league’s individual statistical categories as the team jumped out to a huge lead in the Cape Cod Baseball League’s West Division, and found a team chemistry that surprised even themselves.
“You don’t always know what you’re going to get in summer ball, and it was a nice surprise how well we all got along,” said infielder Kevin Hoef (Iowa). “We want to do well individually, but also as a team. We just really like each other.”
As the season entered its final week of regular-season play, the Braves were no longer dominating individual stat lines. The league’s pitching had finally caught up with Bourne’s explosive bats, and Hoef, Brian Pruitt (Stetson) and Ben Guez (William & Mary) had fallen from the top of the league’s batting average and RBI lists. No Bourne players was on the list of top 10 batters, which once held as many as four Braves.
But the team is still there. The Braves are not wowing teams with their once-potent bats, but they are still winning games. Even over the past two weeks, which saw the Braves held to season lows of six hits three times and five hits three more times, the team won five of eight games and, at 23-18 through Friday, Bourne was still first in the West. The Braves have held onto the top spot since losing it briefly back in Week 3 and are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
Their names may have dropped from the list of league leaders (with the exception of Guez, who still appears on the league’s RBI list, in fifth place with 24), but the playoff-bound Braves aren’t going away. Liz Hoffman, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Cotuit Wallops Falmouth in Midst of Losing Streak;
Shortstop Havens Represents Kettleers at All-Star Game
COTUIT, Mass. -- As the end of the Cape Cod Baseball League season approaches, the Cotuit Kettleers continue to battle through their hardships as they drop to 13-25-2 on the season after suffering an 11-game losing streak and numerous injuries.
Cotuit’s last victory was over second-place Falmouth on July 27 when the Kettleers smashed the Commodores, 13-1, as starter J.B Shuck (Ohio State) worked five innings, giving up one run and striking out six. The Cotuit offense lit up Falmouth’s rotation for 16 hits, including a 3-for-6 performance from Josh Harrison (Cincinnati), Aaron Baker (Oklahoma) going 2-for-4 and a 3-for-5 night by shortstop Reese Havens (South Carolina).
Havens represented the Cotuit organization at the 2007 CCBL All-Star Game in Wareham as the Kettleer shortstop stroked the first hit of the game with a line shot to the right field wall in the bottom of the first inning.
Since the 13-1 win over Falmouth, the Kettleers have been unable to add another win to their record and have dropped out of the post-season race. Erica Bailey, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Falmouth Feels Late-Season Pressure
From Hyannis in Race for Second Place
FALMOUTH, Mass. -- With the 2007 All-Star Game packed neatly away and the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs peaking out over the horizon, the Falmouth Commodores found themselves in a tight race for a post-season berth with third-place Hyannis.
Falmouth led Hyannis by six points going into an Aug. 2 match-up, but a 2-1 loss to the Mets made things a little sticky for the Commodores. Falmouth remained in second place in the West Division by just two games with four regular-season games left, including another showdown with Hyannis on Aug. 6.
Any combination of three Commodore wins or Met losses would guarantee Falmouth a postseason berth.
While the All-Star spotlight was on Falmouth starter Aaron Crow (Missouri) on July 28, as he was awarded Under Armour’s Undeniable Player of the Game for the West striking out all three batters faced, it was another Missouri pitcher the team looked to for the Aug. 2 match-up against Hyannis.
Kyle Gibson started against the Mets, working six innings and fanning eight. Despite Gibson’s impressive showing, it was Hyannis’s combination of starter Andrew Doyle (Oklahoma) and reliever Stephen Penney (California-Riverside) that shut down Falmouth’s offense, scattering five hits. The Mets’ game-winning run was unearned as a result of Falmouth errors in the eighth inning. Erica Bailey, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Hyannis Mets Edge Falmouth, Enter Final Week
Of Season Still Eyeing West Division Playoff Berth
HYANNIS, Mass. -- The Hyannis Mets remained in the playoff hunt by winning two of their three games in a week shortened by Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star activities.
Hyannis started things Monday with an 8-3 victory over the Harwich Mariners. Dan Brewer (Bradley), who was selected to the West Division All Star Team, went 2-for-4 at the plate, driving in one run and scoring once himself to help keep the Mets within striking distance of the second-place Falmouth Commodores for the division’s final playoff berth.
Aside from playing against the top competition in the country and being selected as an all-star, Brewer said he has most enjoyed the atmosphere that surrounds the Cape League. “I’ve just enjoyed how intense the fans are and how loyal towns are to their teams. People almost idolize you when you’re out on the field. They just come out wanting to see the next (Red Sox catcher Jason) Varitek,” said the Mets second baseman.
Brewer set two individual goals before arriving in Hyannis for the summer, being selected as an all-star and being chosen to take batting practice at Fenway Park. He has accomplished both and he points to the 2007 All Star Game in Wareham as one of the highlights of his baseball career. “It was a blast, one of the coolest experiences I’ve had,” he said. “There were a couple thousand people there just to watch us take batting practice -- I’ve never seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, unless, of course, I’m lucky enough to come back next year.”
On Tuesday, Brewer and company were defeated, 3-2, by the Bourne Braves on Senior Night at McKeon Park. The Mets hosted both staff and residents from the Pavilion in Hyannis and 93-year-old Barbara Walden, mother of league president Judy Walden Scarafile, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
After traveling to Boston on Wednesday to see members of the East and West All-Star squads recognized by the Boston Red Sox and a league make-up day on Thursday, the Mets visited Falmouth for a showdown with the Commodores. It was a must-win situation for the Mets, who would fall four games back with four games left if they lost.
It was a tight, well-played game in which Hyannis eventually prevailed, 2-1, moving within four points of Falmouth for the last playoff spot. Brewer’s solo home run in the fourth inning put the Mets on the scoreboard and first baseman Shane Peterson (Long Beach State) scored on a passed ball after reaching third base on a throwing error. Andrew Doyle (Oklahoma) pitched six plus innings, giving up just one run, and Stephen Penney (California-Riverside) came in to finish the game and earn his second win.
The Mets play were scheduled to play back-to-back games with Cotuit on Saturday and Sunday, then take on Wareham on Tuesday and finish the season at Falmouth Wednesday night. Kevin Wolfe, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Winning Really Isn’t Everything in Wareham,
Where Gatemen Focus on Player Development
WAREHAM, Mass. -- The Wareham Gatemen have run out of time in their bid to turn around their 2007 season. They have not won since July 20 and were mathematically eliminated from post-season play in the Cape Cod Baseball League more than a week ago.
It’s a good thing general manager John Wylde doesn’t put too many of his self-esteem chips in the Cape League playoffs.
Wylde has long maintained that the top priority in his 24 years at the helm of the Gatemen organization is to develop talent and put professional prospects on the field, even at the expense of winning games.
“Manager (Cooper) Farris and I certainly think there are things we could be doing better on the field, but as fun as winning is, it really isn’t why we’re here,” Wylde said. “The whole purpose of the Cape Cod League, I firmly believe, is to help develop these kids as players.
For Wylde, that means improving batting mechanics and field instincts, while also developing good eating and sleeping habits and stressing the mental aspects of the game.
“If they can learn those things here, and carry them into their careers back at school and hopefully at the professional level, for those of them that will continue there, then we’ve done our job,” he said.
Wylde cited the symbiotic relationship between the Cape League and Major League Baseball. MLB has long been one of the CCBL’s biggest supporters, raising the league’s profile by sending scouts and lending its professional credence. In return, Cape League coaches and GMs have churned out professional prospects and future stars. Players see a summer on the Cape as their ticket to the big leagues, and so the cycle continues with new generations of future pros making their way to Cape Cod.
“If there weren’t an interest from professional baseball, this league would lose credibility pretty darn quickly,” he said. “Our unspoken commitment back to them is to put boys on the field that they want to see. This is a great opportunity for the boys, and the smart boy is the one who takes advantage of that opportunity.”
While Wareham is struggling as a team, several of its players have taken advantage of the publicity stage the Cape League provides and have turned scouts’ heads and raised their potential draft stock.
With a league-low .216 batting average and no active player hitting above .300, the Gatemen have few offensive stars, but there are several players who have made names for themselves.
After a hot start, All-Star Josh Phegley (Indiana) cooled to a .269 average, but his presence behind the plate bolsters his attractiveness as a strong-hitting catcher. While Phegley was forced to forego his All-Star Game appearance with a broken hand, and will miss the rest of the season as the result of an appendectomy last week, he has raised his draft status with a strong summer on the Cape.
“He’s hard-nosed. As Cooper says, ‘He’s a player’,” Wylde said. “I think a lot of scouts had not heard of him or didn’t know much about him, but more they watched him perform, the more they would have to be impressed with him as a legitimate prospect.”
Blake Dean (Louisiana State) and Luke Murton (Georgia Tech) both had relatively low batting averages, at .250 and .205, respectively, but they have shown power potential. Dean led the Gatemen with four home runs, following a strong spring at LSU, where he slugged 22 extra-base hits, including seven homers.
Originally recruited as a left-handed pitcher, Dean early on showed his power-hitting potential. Symptomatic of the series of tough breaks the Wareham roster has had this season, Dean will miss the remainder of the team’s games due to a family illness.
Murton may be one of those really late bloomers. His batting average got a boost from a 4-for-10 showing last week. His most emphatic statement of the summer came at the All-Star Game’s Home Run Hitting Contest, when he exploded for 23 dingers, including four that cleared the outfield bleachers of his home field. He had the title locked up with five outs to spare, but churned our five more home runs to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. Murton’s older brother Matt, now an outfielder with the Chicago cubs, won the event in 2002.
“Luke had a tough season, but in the Home Run Derby, he put on a show that I’ve never seen equaled by anyone else, including his brother,” Wylde said. “The scouts know that he has major-league power, but they’ve probably never seen it on display like that.”
The Gatemen will watch the 2007 CCBL playoffs from the sidelines. But the 44 regular-season games were more than enough to send several of them back to their college teams one step closer to a professional career. Liz Hoffman, CCBL intern ([email protected])
Interns: Erica Bailey, John Hannemann, Liz Hoffman,
Gabriella Remington, Kevin Wolfe