10 August, 2004

Y-D tops East, will duel Brewster

     The Mariners didn't make it to the post season, wrapping up with a 20-24 mark, but they had a say in who did. 

     Harwich beat Brewster 3-2 Sunday afternoon at the Whitecaps home field thanks to James Holder's leadoff homer in seventh. That gave the Orleans Cardinals an opening. 

     But the Cardinals, who'd gone 8-0-1 over the past two weeks, lost to Chatham, 3-1, and wound up one point (46-45) behind Brewster for the second and last playoff spot. It made for an exciting finish to the Cape League East season. The Y-D Red Sox stayed strong throughout the year and captured first with a 26-17 record. They hosted the Whitecaps for playoff game one yesterday afternoon. 

     Life looked rosy for the Whitecaps not so long ago as they held a substantial eight point bulge (42 vs. 34) over the competition Aug. 1. But the Cardinals suddenly took flight and Brewster fell into the deep freeze. 

     The Whitecaps were happily in first (21-13) with Y-D second (19-15) and Orleans in last (14-20). But Brewster dropped five straight and eight of their last 10 games. All the while Orleans just kept winning until they were 22-20. But they tied Y-D 4-4 over the weekend when the Whitecaps were beating Chatham 6-1 and fell one point behind. 

Y-D cops crown 

     "We've stayed pretty consistent all year long," said Y-D head coach Scott Pickler. "It's team chemistry without a doubt. These guys like each other. We have no superstars, no prima donnas." 

     They may have no superstars but the Red Sox have plenty of stars. Catcher Frank Curreri hit .293 with two homers and 15 RBIs and led the league in base percentage. Second basemen Joe Anthonsen led the Cape League in runs scored with 34. He hit .229 but had 32 hits and 25 walks so he gets on base. Matt LaPorta was second in the league with nine homers and led the Sox with 20 RBIs. All-Star shortstop Ryan Rohlinger has played terrific defense. 

     "This league is made up of pitching and defense," Pickler said. "But it helps if you hit pretty good." 

     Y-D has hit. Their small home field tends to boost the power stats but they've swung the lumber on the road as well. 

     "We've played pretty good defense," Pickler noted. "The pitching has been consistent. Again there are no superstars. But we've got a lot of guys who are doing a good job. And we've got great work out of our closers and the starters have gone far enough to keep the bullpen rested." 

     The Red Sox sported a couple of All-Star pitchers, Justin Blaine (4-2 with a 2.53 ERA and Justin Keadle (5-1 with a 3.44 ERA). Dan McCutcheon didn't make the All-Star squad but with a 5-1 record and 1.58 ERA he could have. 

     Josh Faiola (3-2, 1.14 and nine saves) has been the chief closer. Brett Harker (3.25 ERA in 20 games), Blake Holler (1-1, 3.79 in 15 games) and Cory VanAllen (2.43 ERA in 11 games) have been the main set-up men. 

     "I'm happy with the effort they're giving, how hard they play," Pickler said. 

     Sox catcher Ben Crabtree played with Brewster last year and has done a solid job for Y-D this year. 

     "Our pitchers are throwing strikes and keeping us in the game," Crabtree said. "And we have some guys that can hit the ball and that equals success. I think every guy we throw out there can throw strikes. They don't walk guys and with wood bats that's important. It's been a good summer. The team gets along well. We've got great chemistry and that equates to wins." 

Whitecaps skid but get in 

     Brewster didn't finish strong, losing eight of their last 10 games, but they're in the playoffs. 

     "We're struggling now. We have to turn it around," manager Bob Macaluso said last week. "If we can get some pitching going and get some breaks we can turn it around. But our pitching hasn't been as strong as it was earlier in the summer." 

     Brewster had been leading the league in many pitching categories and Matt Goyen (5-2, 1.25 and a league high 80 K's) collected a big weekend win. But Brewster as a team is seventh in ERA. 

     "We're chasing runs every night," Macaluso noted. "But I don't want to blame just the pitching; our defense hasn't been great. It's those two areas we've got to improve. We've got some guys who can swing the bat." 

     Will Rymes (a former temporary player) is batting .308, Mike Campbell is at .277, Ryan Patterson has hit .327 with 5 homers and 25 RBIs and Ryan Robertson is solid at .272. 

     "We can turn it around," Macaluso promised. "It's been an awesome summer, till last week I've been very happy with the team. We've got good personnel. It's just a matter of going out and finishing the job." 

     If they beat Y-D, fans will forget all about their skid. 

Cards come up short 

     Orleans looked finished but they beat Hyannis (2-1), Brewster (6-5), Harwich (7-2), Wareham (11-0), Bourne (5-0), Chatham (2-0), Cotuit (9-4) and Wareham (3-2) before the fatal tie due to darkness. The three shutouts were chalked up by starters Chris Nicoll, Dennis Robinson and Erik Averill with relief help. 

     "We're playing together, and we haven't," manager Carmen Carcone declared in the midst of the run. "I know the talent is there. The team that plays together usually gets good results. When you win, guys are hitting, guys are making plays. Guys are pitching and that makes you feel better and when guys are starting to feel good, you do better." 

     The Cards got great work from first baseman Jordan Brown (5 homers, 28 RBIs, .318 average) and Tyler Greene (.296) and pitchers Erik Averill (5-3, 1.70 ERA), Chris Nicoll (4-1, 1.70) and Ryan Self (five saves, 1.43). 

Schiffner logs landmark win 

     Chatham A's coach John Schiffner took another step up the all-time Cape League win ladder. Chatham's 2-1 win over Y-D in 10 innings July 25 was Schiffner's 258th, one more than former Y-D Red Sox manager Red Wilson (257-373-33) and he moved into third place in league history. 

     "If you're around long enough that'll happen at some point. It's a nice honor because of what the Cape League means to me," Schiffner said. 

     Schiffner's current record is 264-232-10. The A's finished 21-23 and lost a lot of tight games. 

     "That's been the nature of our season," Schiffner noted. "We have not been able to win enough one-run games. But that's the nature of this game. In this league if you get down a few runs in the middle of the game you're in trouble." 

     Schiffner has won two Cape League championships in his 12 years as head coach. 

     "I think the kids have played hard the entire year," he said. "They haven't quit. But you're not out here to win the championship every year. You're here to show them everything they need to get better. 2002 is a good example, it was not a good season and 19 of them signed pro contracts. We're here to help the kids get to the next level." 

By Rich Eldred