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Cape League: Players making a splash in 2011 (and some that may live near you)

by Joshua Kummins

HYANNIS, Mass. — The 127th season of the Cape Cod Baseball League is in full swing and the league race is wide open as always. Here is a look at some of the players from around the nation — and maybe from around the corner (see photos) – that are making waves along the beach. Get it?

  

Our annual Cape League coverage begins tomorrow with live games and more. Shane Beyer and I will be holding down the fort leading up to team coverage of the All-Star Game on July 29 at Fenway Park.

All statistics as of Saturday, July 16, 2011.

BOURNE BRAVES
16-11-2, Second in the Western Division (34 points)

– Returning outfielder Travis Jankowski (Stony Brook) is not your prototypical leadoff batter, but the Pennsylvania native is one of the biggest bats to watch for the rest of the summer. After appearing in a few games at the end of last summer, his .319 average leads the team this year and ranks seventh in the league, while his 36 hits are tops.

Ryan Eades (LSU)is the league’s top pitcher as he sports a 3-0 record and 0.68 ERA over his five starts. The Stidell, La. native has allowed just 13 hits over 26.1 innings this summer to lead the Cape’s best pitching staff.

LOCAL: Pitcher John Farrell (William and Mary)hails from Andover, Mass. and has not allowed an earned run over nine relief appearances. Infielder Mike LeBel (Rhode Island)hails from Quincy and has hit 9-for-41 in 12 games. LeBel’s Rams teammate is lefty Chris Pickering, who ranks sixth in the CCBL with a 1.67 ERA over 27 innings.

BREWSTER WHITECAPS
17-10-3, First in the Eastern Division (37 points)

– Catcher Taylor Davis (Morehead State) is still the league’s leading hitter at .375 over 21 games, but he was signed to a contract by the Chicago Cubs last week.

Second baseman Ryan Jones (Michigan State) has a .337 average, which ranks third in the league and tops on the league’s best offense, while outfielder Tanner Nivens (Stony Brook) holds a .276 average in all 29 games.

Tony Buccifero (Michigan State) has impressed in his first six starts, allowing just seven earned runs over a league-leading 35.1 innings pitched. His 1.78 ERA ranks seventh in the league.

LOCAL: Pitcher Daniel Langfield (Memphis) resides in Somerset, Mass and has earned one win in five games while pitching in 24.1 innings, while Cape native and catcher Steve Tkowski (Holy Cross) has hit an even .300 in nine games.

CHATHAM ANGLERS
8-20-1, Last in the Eastern Division (17 points)

– The Anglers are the league’s worst team by two games and also own the Cape’s worst pitching staff, but catcher Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State) has hit a solid .276 over a league-best 26 games.

– In 25.1 innings over four starts, Sagamore Beach, Mass. native Keith Bilodeau (Maine) has impressed for the Anglers at historic Veteran’s Field. Matthew Koch (Louisville) has allowed just three earned runs over 12 relief appearances, leading the staff with a 1.62 ERA.

LOCAL: In addition to Bilodeau, starter Chad Gallagher (Marist) hails from Southborough, Mass. The Red Foxes lefty has allowed 13 earned runs in 23 innings for Chatham this summer. Two-time NCAA Champion Evan Marzilli (South Carolina) has joined the Anglers and owns a .286 average over his first six games.

COTUIT KETTLEERS
10-17-2, Last in the Western Division (22 points)

– The league’s current offensive leader is Kettleer right fielder and second-slot batter Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) as his .372 average, .505 on-base percentage, and .616 slugging clip are all CCBL bests. The native of Ypsilanti, Miss. also leads the league in RBI (24), runs (21), total bases (53), and walks (21).

– Roache’s GSU Eagles teammate Chris Beck is tied for fourth-best in the league with a 1.32 ERA over 34 innings pitched, despite leading the CCBL with four home runs allowed.

LOCAL: Outfielder Michael Yastremski (Vanderbilt) certainly has a strong baseball family lineage as his grandfather is legendary Red Sox slugger Carl. The younger Yaz, a native of Andover, is hitting .267 in his first eight games since joining Cotuit from the College World Series.

FALMOUTH COMMODORES
13-15-0, Fourth in the Western Division (26 points)

– New York-born outfielder Jeremy Baltz (St. John’s) owns the Cape’s eighth-best average at .314 through 27 games this summer, leading the team with 14 RBI.

– One of the summer’s best stories is that of local right-hander Andrew Aizenstadt(Babson) as the Division-III product has impressed at Guv Fuller Field. The Norwell, Mass. native is a perfect 2-0 for the Commodores this season and has allowed just seven earned runs over 24.2 innings. An invitation to the All-Star Game is sure to be a dream come true for who could have been easily misjudged as a “boy among men.”

LOCAL: Aizenstadt is a local to remember, but so is fellow hurler Nate Koneski (Holy Cross) of Dighton, Mass. The Crusaders lefty has allowed a mere two earned runs over nine relief appearances for Falmouth. Outfielder Billy Ferriter (UConn) has suited up in 18 games this summer, hitting at a solid .294.

HARWICH MARINERS
17-11-0, Second in the Eastern Division (34 points)

– Outfielder Billy Burns (Mercer) has steered the ship for Mariner offense as his .324 clip ranks fourth on the Cape through 20 games. His .373 on-base percentage ranks second on the team. Fellow outfielder Jabari Henry (Florida International) leads the league with ten doubles.

– Righties Carter Capps (Mount Olive) and Chris Overman (North Carolina State) have been rock solid out of the bullpen as both have not allowed an earned run over 31.2 innings in 20 combined appearances. Taylor Rogers (Kentucky) is Harwich’s top starter on the remaining staff, pitching to a 2-2 record and 2.14 ERA in four starts.

LOCAL: Both of the Mariners’ current locals are on the mound in Andrew Leenhouts (Northeastern) and Kevin Carlow (Brown). Leenhouts hails from Franklin, Mass. and is Northeastern’s crafty lefty. The returning Cape Leaguer sits at 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA over six total appearances Carlow is a righty out of Mystic, Conn., who is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in nine relief appearances. 

HYANNIS HARBOR HAWKS
18-11-0, Best Record in the CCBL/First in the Western Division (36 points)

– Shortstop Eric Stamets (Evansville) owns a .312 average in 28 games for the Harbor Hawks, leading the offense and stacking up tenth in the CCBL. His 34 hits are second to Travis Jankowski in the league leaders. Jacksonville University outfielders Dan Gulbransen and Adam Walker have also had strong seasons with .284 and .260 averages through 28 games, respectively.

Scott Firth (Clemson) and Dylan Floro (Cal State-Fullerton) are both among the league’s top ten in ERA. Firth, a Buffalo Grove, Ill. native, is second in the league with a 1.01 ERA in 26.2 innings to go along with his perfect 2-0 record. Floro leads the league in wins with four as he has pitched 27.1 innings.

– The Harbor Hawks have no current local players.

ORLEANS FIREBIRDS
12-14-3, Third in the Eastern Division (27 points)

– DH/First baseman Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) leads the CCBL with six home runs, which spoils hopes of a Triple Crown for Victor Roache. He has solidified himself as a pure power hitter as his .538 slugging percentage is second to Roache in the league.

– Right-hander Mike Hauschild (Dayton) holds a 0.82 ERA over his five appearances this season. Over 11 innings, he has allowed just one total run.

LOCAL: Waldrip is a native of Medford, Mass. and originally began his college career at St. Anselm. Pitcher John Brebbia (Elon) has had a strong year, throwing 10.1 innings over five appearances without allowing an earned run. 

WAREHAM GATEMEN
15-14-0, Third in the Western Division (30 points)

– Wareham’s roster is chock full of local products as always, including the team’s leading hitter, outfielder John Andreoli (UConn). The Shrewsbury, Mass. native has appeared in 20 games and holds a .362 average, but does not qualify for the league leaders. Speedy outfielder Robert Refsnyder (Arizona) has legged out three triples on the season, while hitting .299 in 25 games.

– Nashua, N.H. native Daniel Feehan (UConn) holds the league lead in appearances with 14, while Konner Wade (Arizona) leads the team with six saves, which is one off the league lead. Justin Amlung (Louisville) has been a strong option for the Gatemen as he has appeared in six games, while holding a 1.54 ERA and two wins.

LOCAL: Infielder L.J. Mazilli (UConn) has retured to Wareham following his stint with Team USA and currently sits at .208 in 15 games. Pitchers Joe Flynn (Franklin Pierce) and Stephen Perakslis (Maine) are also local Massachusetts products out of Plymouth and Abington.

YARMOUTH-DENNIS RED SOX
12-15-3, Fourth in the Eastern Division (27 points)

– Outfielder James Ramsey (Florida State) has appeared in 19 games for the Sox this year and his .313 average is ninth in the league. The Alpharetta, Ga. native ranks third in the CCBL with 17 runs scored and a .522 slugging clip. Infielder Mason Katz (LSU) sports a .263 average and has converted on all four of his stolen base attempts.

James Lomangino (St. John’s) is tied for the team lead wth two wins on the summer, while his 1.85 ERA over 24.1 innings ranks tenth in the CCBL. Red Storm teammate Matt Carasiti has three saves under his belt in his 12 relief appearances this year.

LOCAL: Infielder Anthony Melchionda (Boston College), a .266 hitter this summer, hails from Braintree, Mass. Pitcher Matt Reckling (Rice) would not look like a Bay State native when you saw he played for the Owls, but the fellow Braintree native has not allowed an earned run over 7.2 innings.

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Cape League Weekly Round-Up: July 10 – July 16

by: Shane Beyer

CAPE COD, Mass. — This week the Cape Cod Baseball League witnessed a player hit a home run in three straight games, a player’s average nearly nip the .400 mark, and a 23-run game. If you think these things are crazy, Saturday night saw a 15-inning, 7-7, nail-biting tie between Brewster and Harwich — This was the perfect ending of another outstanding week of Cape League baseball!

EASTERN DIVISION
The Harwich Mariners came into this week with a strong lead on the Eastern Division. The former second place team, the Brewster Whitecaps, took over the division lead by posting a 5-1-1 record in their last 7 games as opposed to Harwich’s 2-2-1 record. Had Saturday night’s game between Brewster and Harwich not been a tie, the division could have been a lot different.

Despite going 2-4-0 on the week, the Orleans Firebirds were able to hold their third place position because the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox also went 2-4-0. At the bottom of the division, the Chatham Anglers posted a record of 3-4-0 in their last 7.

Here is a look at the Eastern Division standings:

Team Name, W-L-T, Total Points
1. Brewster Whitecaps, 17-10-4, 38 pts
2. Harwich Mariners, 17-11-1, 35 pts
3. Orleans Firebirds, 13-14-3, 29 pts
4. Y-D Red Sox, 12-16-3, 27 pts
5. Chatham Anglers, 9-20-1, 19 pts

WESTERN DIVISION
The Western Division was much like the East at the beginning of this week; one team was beginning to pull way with the lead. In this case, it was the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Hyannis was able to barely hang on to their lead of the division. Their 2-3-0 record on the week was strongly matched by the Bourne Braves record of 6-1-0. Bourne is breathing down Hyannis’s neck.

The Falmouth Commodores and Wareham Gatemen flip-flopped positions within the division. Wareham, currently the third place team, posted a 4-2-0 record on the week. Falmouth’s 3-3-0 record was slightly out-matched. At the bottom of the division, the Cotuit Kettleers record this week was 1-5-0.

Here is a look at the Western Division standings:

Team Name, W-L-T, Total Points
1. Hyannis Harbor Hawks, 19-11-0, 38 pts
2. Bourne Braves, 17-11-2, 36 pts
3. Wareham Gatemen, 15-15-0, 30 pts
4. Falmouth Commodores, 13-16-0, 26 pts
5. Cotuit Kettleers, 10-18-2, 22 pts

Notable Statistics (As of 7/17/11)

Richie Shaffer (Clemson) – Chatham – 3 HR, 8 RBI

DJ Hicks (UCF) - Bourne – 2 HR, 6 RBI

Jason Monda (Washington State) – Brewster – .412, 14 Hits

Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State) - Chatham – .429, 7 RBI

Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) – Cotuit – .409, 1 HR, 8RBI

Keith Bilodeau (Maine) – Chatham – 2 Games, 11 Inn, W, 13 K, 0.82 ERA

Joshua Turley (Baylor) – Wareham – 2 Games, 12 Inn, W, 13 K, 0.75 ERA

Daniel Gibson (Florida) – Y-D – 3 Games, 8 Inn, W, 13 K, 0.00 ERA

Taylor Rogers (Kentucky) – Harwich – 2 Games, 12 Inn, W, 9 K, 0.00 ERA

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Cape League: Boyhood Dream Comes To Life for Bay State Native

by Tom Quinlan
Cape Cod Baseball League

ORLEANS, Mass. — For the average Massachusetts resident, summer time usually means at least one visit to Cape Cod.

For one current Firebird and Medford native, it used to mean a visit to a family summerhouse in Falmouth and trips to Commodore games.

That is the story of Orleans first basemen/DH Ben Waldrip, who leads the league in home runs and earlier this season was named Coca Cola Player of the Week in the Cape League.

Waldrip, better known as “Big Ben” by teammates, represents Jacksonville State his first year playing in the Cape League.

Before playing for the Gamecocks, Waldrip was a local Massachusetts kid with a dream. Born to the parents of Dave and Juanita Waldrip, baseball has played an intricate part in his life since day one.

Ben’s father was a baseball player at Central Arkansas. Growing up, Ben had family who resided in Falmouth.

“I can remember coming down here in the summer time and going to Falmouth games, which was my earliest memories of baseball in Cape Cod,” said Waldrip. “Ben had a dream to play in Cape Cod and in order to achieve it, knew it would take time and effort.”

Ben attended Medford High School and was named MVP after his senior year, posting an average over .400 in the Great Boston League, which was a wood bat league. Leadership was a quality for Waldrip as he was named team captain both his junior and senior year. He was an all-star and named Male Athlete of the Year his senior year. Waldrip also played football and basketball in high school.

Before becoming a Gamecock, Waldrip took his talents to the junior college level and played at Cypress College in California. He also played two years in the NECBL. He was named to the All-Star team in 2009 and led the league in several categories. This past season for the Gamecocks, he compiled a .344 batting average with a team-leading 10 home runs and 46 RBI and helped lead the team to a 36-23 record. Waldrip is one of the most feared batters on the Cape, leading the league with six home runs.

“It feels great (hitting a home run) and its one of the best feelings in the world,” said Waldrip. “I have been able to get pitches to jump on early and it’s helped contribute to my team’s success.”

Tom Quinlan is a student at Curry College in Milton, Mass. and currently works as a media intern with the Orleans Firebirds of Cape Cod Baseball League.

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Cape Cod Baseball League: Orleans 7, Wareham 3 — Fast start yields road win for Firebirds

by Joshua Kummins

WAREHAM, Mass. — The Orleans Firebirds, now sitting atop the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Eastern Division, used timely hitting and strong pitching performances to defeat the skidding Wareham Gatemen by a 7-3 count on Saturday night at Spillane Field.

Every player drove reached base and/or drove in a run in the contest to pace a nine-hit attack for the Firebirds, who have now won two straight away games.

Orleans (4-2-1) has won two games in a row and three of the last five to propel themselves into the top of the division and within one point of the league’s best team, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Wareham (4-4-0) has now dropped two straight and three of four, now sitting three points back in the Eastern Division.

The ‘Birds drew first blood in the second inning against Gatemen starter Josh Turley (Baylor), making his Cape League debut.

After right fielder Steve Selsky (Arizona) singled, first baseman and Medford, Mass. native Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) poked a bunt midway down the third-base line that advanced the runners.

Third baseman Steve Nyisztor (Rutgers) walked to load the bases, which set up catcher Jake Hernandez (USC) for a shot to open a comfortable lead early and he did just that on a long double into the left field corner that cleared the bases to score three runs.

In the next inning, Nyisztor hit a strong bunt towards first base that was far enough for second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) to score the fourth run after he hit a leadoff double.

The teams traded runs in the fifth inning as the Firebirds took a 5-0 lead on a one-out home run to deep left field by Selsky against Gatemen reliever Brent Suter (Harvard).

Wareham finally got to Orleans after returning starter and Sharon, Mass. native John Brebbia (Elon) exited the game. Brebbia tossed four, two-hit innings, while walking one and fanning three. The Gatemen worked up his pitch count to 66 early, which signaled the end of the night from manager Kelly Nicholson.

Against reliever Nick Mutz (Western Oklahoma), Wareham’s first run came on an outfield-assisted fielder’s choice, which was hit into by second baseman L.J. Mazilli (Connecticut). The play scored shortstop Derek Dennis (Michigan) as he reached on an infield error to open the frame.

Firebirds first baseman Rudy Flores (Florida International) was hit by the first pitch from Wareham pitcher Daniel Feehan, a Nashua, N.H. South High School graduate and UConn Husky, which set up another RBI double by Jake Hernandez.

Feehan tossed 1.2 scoreless innings, while allowing just one hit. He made way for Abington, Mass. native and Maine Black Bear Stephen Perakslis, who tossed two innings and allowed just a hit and a walk.

Orleans left fielder Tarran Senay (N.C. State) then hit a long sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Hernandez with the seventh and final run in support of reliever Mutz, who earned his first-ever CCBL win.

Wareham closed the scoring with single runs in the sixth and eighth innings on an infield single and a shortstop groundout by Dennis, respectively.

As the Orleans hit early and often, Josh Turley was sent off early and suffered his first loss of the summer as he surrendered five hits and four runs in just three innings.  

The teams return to the field on Sunday for doubleheaders, which will be hosted by the Eastern Division teams. Wareham travels to Yarmouth-Dennis, while Orleans returns to their home, Eldredge Park, where the Firebirds host the Cotuit Kettleers.

If you are visiting the Cape, you may want to visit Eldredge as Team USA-bound pitcher Marcus Stroman (Duke) is scheduled to start the nightcap game for Orleans.

NOTE: During my annual Cape Cod trip in July, I’ll have a report here on BSU18 with smaller recaps from all of the night’s games during the visit. This visit was a personal one to visit a family friend playing for Orleans, but I figured why not write something anyway. 

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