07/02/2021 4:01 AM
Braves Celebrate Win - Photo by Kyle Prudhomme
Article By: Taylor Viles
On Thursday night, the Bourne Braves won their seventh game of the season to improve their overall record to 7-0-2. The team tied its two previous matchups (against Chatham and Harwich, respectively), continuing their undefeated streak. Thursday’s triumph 3-1 over Brewster marked the most wins to begin a season during the last 10 seasons, surpassing Chatham’s six to begin 2013.
It’s been a fun summer for the Braves even though it’s barely begun. Bourne reliever Eric Adler explained that when the team began working out together a few weeks ago, the chemistry was obvious. “Since our first day of practice, we all bonded really well. So we’re playing really loose early,” he said. “When we all came out here, we had the perfect personalities to be a good team. It was just a natural fit for everybody.”
Adler has been a heavy contributor to the early success as he has two saves over three appearances, allowing no runs while striking out six.
The Cape League has experienced winning streaks before. Only last season (2019), the Falmouth Commodores won 11 straight during July, helping them eventually win the West Division. The Wareham Gatemen experienced a 12 game midseason run in 1982.
According to Cape League Historian Mike Richard, the longest winning streak to start a season in Cape League history was 13 in 2002 when Cotuit went 13-0-2 before losing during game number 16, The Kettleers won the division but lost in the semifinals that season.
Three other teams over league history had impressive starts according to Richard. The 1979 Hyannis Mets won the first nine games, eventually finishing the season 33-7-1, the best record in league history. The 1964 Kettleers won 8 straight en route to their fourth straight league championship. Three years later, the Falmouth Commodores won 11 straight to open up their season, losing in the playoffs later in the summer.
Bourne’s current streak to begin the season is the fifth-longest in league history.
Bourne Manager Harvey Shapiro said the team’s success is because his players have performed all the fundamentals needed to win. “We haven’t walked many guys, the defense has been alright and we’ve had some timely hitting,” said the longtime Manager.
But Shapiro knows long streaks can change quickly in this league. “We were 0-6 and we won the division,” he remembered about a previous season. He continued, “I always say we're three or four players away from being good and three or four players away from not so good.”
One player has already left the team who was carrying a major load both offensively and from the mound. University of Connecticut’s Reggie Crawford was hitting .296 with a homer in six games with the club before deciding to leave to play for the USA Collegiate National Team. He also made two pitching appearances striking out four allowing no runs while on Bourne.
“Crawford is like two guys because he can hit and he can pitch,” said Shapiro.
“[He has] 101 from the left side and [is] able to hit a ball 450 feet,” Adler agreed. He said that although Crawford’s departure leaves a hole in the team, their depth should allow them to recover without it acting as a detriment to the team.
On the pitching side, Nick Zwack (Xavier University) and Gordon Graceffo (Villanova University) have led the way for Bourne. Zwack has hurled nine innings over two appearances compiling an ERA of 0.00 with nine strikeouts. Graceffo has pitched eight innings over two starts. He has allowed only one earned run with nine strikeouts.
In the batter’s box, Braylen Wimmer (University of South Carolina Columbia) has knocked in eight, helped by a pair of home runs. Christian Knapczyk (University of Louisville) is hitting .333 with five RBI.
Although Shapiro admits that Cape League teams change throughout the season, he has enjoyed his teams’ play thus far and wouldn’t mind it staying the same. “If it’s going to be the same group all season, then I like who we got,” he said.
Entering a wet weekend on Cape Cod, the Braves will look to continue their dominance on Friday night as the team travels to Falmouth to take on a talented squad that sits right behind them in the West Division standings.
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