06/02/2010 9:59 AM
Different Year, Same Angle for Chatham
By TRISTAN HOBBES
CHATHAM ----- Every team and player in the Cape Cod League strives to win, improve individually and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the Chatham Anglers and 18-year field manager John Schiffner are no different.
“We obviously hope to make the playoffs,” Schiffner said of his goals for the summer of 2010. “We hope to put ourselves in position to get home field advantage in the playoffs and we would love to improve on our position of last year.”
The Anglers made it to the play-in game of the playoffs last year before losing 4-3 to Orleans. Led by seven returnees, they are poised to improve on their standing in the Eastern Division.
Thomas Belza (Oklahoma St.), Rick Oropesa (USC), Phil Pohl (Clemson), Tyler Rahmatulla(UCLA) and Jacob Stallings (North Carolina) return as position players, while Mike Dennhardt(Boston College) and Logan Verrett (Baylor) are back to bolster the pitching staff.
“We are really looking forward to seeing the returning players,” Schiffner said. “We expect them to be real leaders because of their year of experience in the Cape League.”
The returnees bring experience and big-time numbers to the Cape. Oropesa and Rahmatulla are tearing up the Pac-10 and will lead the Anglers’ offense. As the Trojans’ regular first basemen, Oropesa is hitting .336 with 20 doubles, 16 home runs, 60 RBI, 44 runs and 28 walks. Across town, Rahmatulla is putting together a solid season of his own with a .337 average, 16 doubles, five home runs and 38 RBI. The two will get help from Dan Paolini (Siena), who is tied for the Division I lead in home runs with 26, and from Mark Ginther (Oklahoma St.), who leads the Aggies in home runs (12) and RBI (58).
On the mound, Dennhardt and Verrett return after a successful first summer on the Cape. Dennhardt is 4-7 in 14 appearances for the Eagles, while Verrett has been magnificent for the Bears, posting a 5-3 record in 12 appearances with 89 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings. UCLA teammates Erik Goeddel and Dan Klein are key contributors to a Bruins staff that ranks second in the nation with a 3.08 ERA. Goeddel is 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings, while Klein has been the shutdown man this spring with nine saves, five wins and 2.23 ERA. He has struck out 46 batters in 40 1/3 innings, walking only seven.
“I always look forward to the kids showing up, getting an opportunity to play in front of the scouts and trying to take their games to the next level,” Schniffer said.
The coaching staff returns with a few minor changes. Chatham features a new pitching coach as five-year veteran Tyler Kincaid is not returning after being named the pitching coach at the University of San Diego. Taking his place will be Ryan Heil (Riverside College). Heil coached in the West Coast League last summer and helped lead the Corvallis Knights to the WCL championship game. Also joining the staff will be defensive specialist and third base coach Roberto Saenz from NAIA-power Lewis and Clark State University. Saenz’s Wentachee Applesox defeated the Knights in the WCL Championship. David Miller and Jay Grenier return for their second summer in Chatham.
“I think it is a very strong staff with a great deal of experience in summer baseball,” Schiffner said. “I am looking forward to working with this staff.”