The following article was originally written for, and published at, www.ultimatesportstalk.com. You wouldn't necessarily think that home field advantage would be all that important in the Cape League. Don't tell that to Brewster. The Whitecaps are 5-1-1 at home and 1-5 away from the comfy confines of Stony Brook Field.
Chatham scored a run in the eighth and two in the ninth on Sunday to pick up a badly needed win over Yarmouth-Dennis. The 6-5 victory was the Anglers first at Veterans Field this year.
Four Bourne pitchers combined to shutout Hyannis, 5-0, on Sunday. Chris Pickering (URI) started and went 5.2 innings, allowing 7 hits. He was followed to the hill by John Farrell (William & Mary), Kevin Brady (Clemson) and R.J. Alvarez (Florida Atlantic). The three relievers gave up just one hit while striking out 6 in their 3.1 innings of work, handing the Harbor Hawks their first road defeat in the process. Well, actually Hyannis lost in Falmouth on Saturday, but that game was a "home" game for Hyannis because McKeon Park was still unplayable from the rain earlier in the week.
On Sunday, Falmouth defeated Orleans, 5-2. The Commodores have won 6 of their last 7 after starting the season 0-7. On the flip side, Cotuit has lost 6 in a row after Harwich defeated the Kettleers, 7-3.
I've seen Chatham play four times this year and they look like a bad defensive team. Don't know what the league record for errors is, but with 31 errors in 14 games, the Anglers may challenge it.
Bourne and Y-D played one of the crazier games I have ever seen in the league on Saturday. Although lacking the dramatic feel that a playoff game may provide, there were plenty of twists and turns in this one. The Red Sox held a 3-1 lead before the Braves scored 4 in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead. Y-D reclaimed the lead with 3 in the home half of the inning. With daylight diminishing, D.J. Hicks (Central Florida) cracked his first homerun of the year to tie the game for Bourne in the ninth. Y-D threatened when Daryl Norris (Mississippi) walked two in the bottom of the ninth but they could not push across the winning run. I'm quite sure I have never seen a Cape League game in which both teams combined for 31 hits. Eleven pitchers were used in the game. After Bourne used 7 pitchers in their 15 inning marathon against Chatham the night before, they used 6 pitchers against Y-D.
Quick first impression of Y-D catcher Bennett Pickar? Very strong defensively. Red Sox pitchers seemed to think the plate was 58' away from the pitching rubber and although he was charged with one passed ball, Pickar (Oral Roberts) blocked many balls in the dirt, preventing numerous Braves baserunners from advancing.
A big story in baseball last week was the abrupt resignation of Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. From the Washington Post: "Jim Riggleman had informed his boss, General Manager Mike Rizzo, only 45 minutes before first pitch of his intention to resign after the game if his contract situation were not addressed in a substantive way." Rizzo wasn't going to make a decision of that magnitude so quickly and Riggleman resigned immediately after a Nationals win that completed a series sweep of Seattle and pushed Washington over the .500 mark. I can't help but wonder what Riggleman, the ex-Falmouth infielder, would have said or done if, say, Drew Storen came into his office and declared "Hey skip, I'm not available to pitch today and, by the way, I won't be available to pitch until the team picks up the option on my contract."
Tonight's Cotuit at Hyannis game is the first of three straight games between the two teams. Brewster is scheduled to play at Chatham tonight and tomorrow. The teams haven't played at Brewster yet, but after tomorrow's game, the Whitecaps will not return to Veterans Field in the regular season.
Cotuit has signed Jordan Leyland (UC-Irvine) to a temp contract. For whatever length of time Leyland stays with the Kettleers, he could add some punch to their offense. Last year, Leyland batted .264 with 2 HR and 14 RBI during the regular season. He stepped it up big-time in Cotuit's championship run with a .462 avg. and many timely basehits.
Despite Chatham's dramatic comeback win last night, the Anglers remain in last place in the East. We're only about a third of the way into the season, so there is plenty of time to turn things around. I'm sure no one in Chatham wants to see their club be the one team in the division that doesn't make the playoffs two years in a row. At the game on Saturday, a couple folks were talking about how Chatham's early-season woes even extend to off the field where the scoreboard and the popcorn machine in the concession stand aren't working!
Sean Reilly has been a bright light for the Anglers in the early going. Reilly, who played at Xaverian HS in Westwood, MA., has taken advantage of his opportunity on the Cape and is batting .343 with 2 homeruns. As a junior at Rollins this spring. Reilly batted .317 with 2 homers while starting at catcher in 41 of the Tars 53 games.
It's probably too early to start thinking about the Triple Crown, but Cotuit's Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) is picking up right where he left off during the college season. Roache finds himself among the league leaders in all three categories with his .349 avg. (fourth), 2 HR's (tied for second) and 9 RBI (tied for third).
How did the NECBL pick a team to play against Team USA at Fenway today when, at the time the players were chosen, some of their teams had only played five or six games? Just wondering what criteria was used to make the selections?
Brewster leads the league with a .275 team batting average. The Whitecaps are trying to get the running game going, but so far they have only been successful on 20 of 33 stolen base attempts. The teams with the best success rates on stolen bases? Wareham has 19 steals and has only been caught 3 times. Y-D has been successful on 32 of 38 attempts.
There have been 7 homeruns hit at Cotuit's Lowell Park. Chatham has hit 4 of them. The Anglers lead the league with 10 dingers. Chatham has also struckout 139 times, a whopping 39 more K's than the next closest team. Cotuit pitchers have given up 11 homeruns - more than twice as many as the next closest team (Wareham, 5).
Good to see another local player having success. Falmouth's Andrew Aizenstadt (Norwell/Babson) is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and has a 13/4 K/BB ratio in 17 innings.
Year after year, Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson does a masterful job of building a pitching staff. This year is no exception. The Firebirds have the league's lowest ERA at 1.67. The Orleans staff is pitching to contact, having struckout just 72 batters.
Hard to figure... Wareham is eighth in the league in team ERA (3.04) but Gatemen pitchers are holding opponents to a .197 batting avg.