A Different Kind of Summer: Cape League Showcasing More Pop Than Pitching, Lots of Homegrown Talent
HYANNIS, Mass. — With the summer hitting its dog days, the Cape Cod Baseball League season is winding down and the All-Star Game is fast approaching this Saturday at Harwich’s Whitehouse Field.
It has seemed to be an uncharacteristic season for the league as batting numbers are up in what is usually a very “pitcher friendly” circuit. The Cotuit Kettleers are the runaway leaders – by ten points – in the Western Division, while things are tighter further down Route 6 with the Harwich Mariners clinging to a two-point lead in the East.
Before the summer is over, grab some popcorn and enjoy some of the nation’s top college talent right in our own backyard and keep your eyes peeled on some of the summer’s shining stars. All statistics in this report are as of July 24.
BOURNE BRAVES (12-19, 5th West)
Mason Robbins (Southern Mississippi), who is one of two All-Star starters representing Bourne, leads the squad with a .357 average and seven homers. The Golden Eagle right fielder has also compiled 66 total bases and eight doubles.
Despite not receiving an All-Star bid, John Farrell (William and Mary) has proved to be very effective as the Braves’ closer – the same role he held for the Tribe this spring. The Andover, Mass. native has allowed just five earned runs over 12 relief appearances, spanning 18.1 innings.
East Longmeadow native Mike Amhed (Holy Cross) started off the season on fire but has cooled off of late with a .232 average in 29 games. He is tied for second on the team with five home runs.
BREWSTER WHITECAPS (13-18, 5th East)
Big-slugging Cape League returnee Ryon Healy (Oregon) has only played in 20 games but has proved to be a key piece to a strong Whitecap offense, earning himself a spot on the East All-Stars. He leads the squad with a .360 average and four home runs – 30 points higher than teammate Jeff McNeil (Long Beach State).
Brewster owns the league’s worst ERA at 4.93 but Gopher left-hander Tom Windle (Minnesota) has been a stalwart on the league leaderboard for a good part of the season, posting a 3-1 record and 1.95 ERA over five starts.
CHATHAM ANGLERS (16-16, 4th East)
The Anglers have struggled mightily at the plate this summer as their .220 average is by far the worst in the CCBL. Andrew Knapp (Cal) is the team’s leading hitter and positional All-Star, sporting a .289 average and 14 RBI, which is tied for the second-best mark on the team.
Alex Powers (Southern New Hampshire), a Nauset Regional High School alum and NCBWA Division II All-Region selection, has appeared in seven games from the Angler bullpen and been very productive for legendary manager John Schiffner. The Brewster native has allowed just five hits and a run over eight innings.
If there is a team with more local flavor than any summer squad in the country, it is Chatham. The roster also boasts outfielder Tom Bourdon (Boston College/Simsbury, Conn.), infielder Mike Fransoso (Maine/Portsmouth, N.H.) and pitcher Tommy Lawrence (Maine/West Haven, Conn.). Infielder Alex Calbick (Maine) and pitcher Ryan Thompson (Franklin Pierce) are also representing local colleges but are Canadian natives.
COTUIT KETTLEERS (19-12, 1st West)
Patrick Biondi (Michigan), the league’s leading hitter by far, checks in at a whopping .412 and also sports a .495 on-base percentage. Tony Kemp (Maryland) joins the Wolverine outfielder in the top ten, while Vineyard Haven native Cael Brockmeyer (Bakersfield) has been a very strong bat all summer.
The Kettleers also own one of the league’s two most productive pitchers in left-handed Amherst native Kevin Ziomek (Vanderbilt), who stands at 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA over 28.1 innings of his second summer with Cotuit.
Dan Slania (Notre Dame), who spent his 2011 summer with the North Shore Navigators in the NECBL, has saved eight games this summer as the league’s top closer. He joins Biondi and Kemp on the West All-Star team.
FALMOUTH COMMODORES (14-18, 3rd West)
Drew Dosch (Youngstown State), who is Falmouth’s lone All-Star starter, sports a .311 average and team-best five home runs this season. Fellow All-Star Trey Masek (Texas Tech) has been a strong member and mainstay in the Commodore rotation, sporting a 2-2 record and 2.28 ERA.
Guilford, Conn. native Craig Schlitter (Bryant) is the team’s workhorse, having hurled over 30 innings thus far. Local collegians Johnny Magliozzi (LSU/Milton, Mass.) and John Colella (Holy Cross) have factored in just one negative decision this summer but both have an ERA below 2.15.
HARWICH MARINERS (20-12, 1st East)
Phillip Ervin (Samford) is the lone Mariner All-Star starter and sports a team-best .346 average with ten home runs, leading the entire league. Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame), who has a .277 average and nine home runs on the season, was a late addition but will join the East All-Stars in his home park in addition to competing in the Home Run Derby. Workhorse David Whitehead (Elon) was also named to the All-Star squad, rewarding his solid start on the Cape, which sees a 4-2 record and 3.34 ERA.
The roster also includes the reuniting of two former local schoolboy teammates – catcher Mike Connolly (Maine/Middleboro, Mass.) and pitcher Eddie Campbell (Virginia Tech/Bridgewater, Mass.).
HYANNIS HARBOR HAWKS (13-19, 4th West)
Brandon Trinkwon (UCSB), who leads the team and is ranked in the league’s top ten with a .348 average in 28 games, will be the West All-Star shortstop, joining starting pitcher Sean Manaea (Indiana State).
Manaea has made the start in six of his seven appearances and has allowed just seven earned runs over a league-high 37.2 innings, while fanning 66. Teammates David Garner (Michigan State) and Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) have each started five games this summer and will join the All-Star staff.
ORLEANS FIREBIRDS (18-14, 3rd East)
One of the league’s best pure hitters is a Firebird All-Star in first baseman Conrad Gregor (Vanderbilt), who leads the team – by far – with a .336 average and seven home runs. He is the lone Firebird with a .300 clip or better and will be a Home Run Derby contestant.
Catcher Jake Hernandez (USC), an Orleans returner with a .295 average, will join three pitchers on the East squad. Pat Christensen (La Salle) leads the league’s top pitching staff with 17 appearances, while Kyle Crockett (Virginia) is tops on the team with a 1.06 ERA in 12 games.
WAREHAM GATEMEN (14-17, 2nd West)
The Gatemen sit well below .500 but are right in the thick of the division race with a very balanced attack, which is led by Middleboro, Mass. native Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) and his .320 average with nine dingers. Georgia Tech infielders Daniel Palka and Mott Hyde, who have clubbed a combined 13 homers and 47 RBI, will also be representing the Gatemen in the All-Star Game.
Wareham’s All-Star contingent also includes reserve Tyler Ross (LSU) and three pitchers, including second-time All-Star and defending College World Series champ Konner Wade (Arizona).
Catcher Matt Walsh (Franklin Pierce/Plymouth, Mass.) and pitcher Fred Shepard (Amherst/Amherst, Mass.) have both been full-season contributors to the line-up.
YARMOUTH-DENNIS RED SOX (19-13, 2nd East)
The Sox own the league’s best offense at .313 and includes six players with .300 clips or better. Three of the CCBL’s top four hitters are Y-D products, including one of five All-Star starters in DH Robert Pehl (Washington) at .381. Division II product Zak Blair (Mercyhurst) has also impressed with a .370 mark as well as a patient eye that has drawn 17 walks.
Starting pitcher Aaron Blair (Marshall) has been the league’s best arm as he enters Saturday’s All-Star Game with a 6-0 record and 1.27 ERA in 35.1 innings.
Utility man Carlos Asuaje (Nova Southeastern) has been another impressive name this summer, showing speed in the outfield and an ironman presence with a league-high 137 at-bats.
Righty Bryan Verbitsky (Hofstra) has also surprised and earned a late All-Star replacement bid, having earned a win in ten appearances from the bullpen while fanning 30.