The big breaking story in college baseball today has a Cape League angle to it. If not already official, it soon will be, when South Carolina announces that Chad Holbrook has been hired to replace legendary Ray Tanner as head coach of the Gamecocks. Holbrook was head coach at Harwich in 1997 when the Mariners won the Eastern Division championship before falling to the Wareham Gatemen in the finals in two straight games. Tanner, the highly successful coach who lead South Carolina to national championships in 2010 and 2011, will become the Gamecocks Athletic Director. Here is Holbrook's bio from the South Carolina website: http://www.gamecocksonline.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/holbrook_chad00.html Speaking of Harwich, with apologies to CodBall's Greg Shaw, I still think the CCBL Mariners have a better offense than the Seattle Mariners. OK, slight exaggeration. But not much.
When Orleans was sitting atop the league with a 13-3 record a little over a week ago, there was no way I saw the Firebirds losing 6 of their next 7 games, but that's exactly what has happened after dropping a 7-5 decision to Yarmouth-Dennis last night.
It's a little too early to be talking playoffs with any seriousness, but... Last Friday, Hyannis thumped Bourne, 9-2, to move 4 points ahead of the Braves as the teams jockey for the last playoff spot in the West. Since then, the Braves have won 3 in a row, while the Harbor Hawks have dropped 3 straight.
Also in the West, second place Cotuit has won 4 in a row to move ahead of Wareham by 4 points. The Gatemen have dropped 3 straight. The Kettleers suddenly find themselves just 2 points in back of Falmouth.
Chatham has dropped 3 in a row while Brewster has won their last 3. The Anglers are just 2 points ahead of Brewster for the last playoff spot in the East. I'm starting to wonder what the odds would have been at the start of the season that one team - hello Chatham! - could miss the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since the league went to the format where 4 of the 5 teams in a division make the postseason?
A few days ago, we noted that Y-D players held down 3 of the top 4 spots for leaders in batting average. Cotuit's Patrick Biondi (.419; Michigan) has taken over the lead from Y-D's Robert Pehl (.391; Washington) but the Red Sox now own 5 of the top 10 spots. In addition to Pehl, Zak Blair (.380; Mercyhurst) is in fourth place, Indiana's Sam Travis is seventh at .348, Tanner Mathis of Mississippi ranks ninth at .339 and Alex Blandino (Stanford) is tenth with a .338 avg. With numbers like that at the top of the leaderboard, it's easy to see why Y-D's .308 team average is 11 points better than runner-up Cotuit.
Chatham hasn't gotten word about this being the "Year of the Offense." The Anglers .227 team average and 103 runs scored rank last in the league.
Harwich's Phil Ervin (Samford) hit 8 homeruns in the Mariners first 15 games but has gone homer-less in his last 7 games. Even so, Mariners players rank 1-2-3 in the league in homeruns. Notre Dame's Eric Jagielo (7) and Austin Wilson (Stanford) with 6 dingers are right behind Ervin. Brian Ragira (Stanford) also cracks the top ten with 4 homers.
And then there were none. No team has an ERA below 3.00. In their last 4 losses, Orleans has given up 7 runs in each game. Those touchdowns have bumped the Firebirds team ERA to 3.19 - still tops in the league. Despite the recent tough stretch, the Firebirds staff leads the league in numerous categories: shutouts (3), runs allowed (92), WHIP (1.16) and fewest walks issued (49). Two teams, Hyannis (5.01) and Bourne (5.21), have ERA's above 5.00.
Yarmouth-Dennis' Aaron Blair is having a stellar summer. The big righthander from Marshall is 4-0 with a 0.37 ERA in 4 starts covering 24.1 IP. He has a 29/8 K/BB ratio to go along with a WHIP of 1.16, while holding opposing batters to a .195 avg. Your next chance to see Blair is tomorrow when he is scheduled to make his next start against Bourne.
Bourne's Mason Robbins (Southern Mississippi) is batting .625 (10 for 16) in his last 5 games.
I don't know the young man, although I've seen him play a lot of baseball last summer and this year, but after reading this story on capenews.net by Falmouth intern Taylor Snow, the Commodores Jake Rodriguez (Oregon State) has a new fan. Bless you and your family, Jake. Here is the link to that article: http://www.capenews.net/sports/news/1938