17 June, 2004

CCBL West Teams set to Gun for Glory
West Division preview

     Get out the lassos and warm up the big guns in the bullpen. The West Division race could prove wild this season in the Cape Cod Baseball League, as the teams from Bourne, Cotuit, Falmouth, Hyannis and Wareham return to their fields of glory.

Top Bourne pitchers returning 
     Each of the West’s five teams has worn the blue ribbon in the past. Bourne reached the pinnacle last year, the first time in franchise history, and would like nothing more than to return to the top spot this season. The only part they would change, says new General Manager Mike Carrier, is the final round-up. Bourne lost to the Orleans Cardinals in the final game of the 2003 CCBL championship. 
     Field manager Harvey Shapiro, who handles baseball duties at the University of Hartford, returns to the Cape for the seventh season, his second with the Braves franchise. Joining Shapiro is pitching doctor Dick Schoonover, the man who crafted the league’s top pitching staff last summer, which included Tampa’s Eric Beattie as well as all-star Kyle Schmidt. Schmidt, hailing from South Florida, will be back in the Braves rotation this summer, as will Vince Bongiovanni out of Miami.

Justin Maxwell, a temporary player for the Bourne Braves at the beginning of last season, will play for the Cotuit Kettleers this year.
File photo

New faces in Cotuit 
     Former Braves star Justin Maxwell, a 10th round selection by the Texas Rangers in the recent Major League draft who plays for center field for the University of Maryland, is returning to Cape League action this summer, but will don another uniform. Coming out of nowhere last year, the 6-foot-5 Maxwell used his prowess at the plate and his crafty fielding to earn all-star honors and is expected to give the Cotuit Kettleers a similar boost. 
     Mike Roberts, former coach at the University of North Carolina, returns to the Cape after a four year hiatus to skipper Cotuit. Roberts, father of Baltimore Orioles lead-off hitter Brian Roberts, led the Wareham Gatemen to the playoffs in his last appearance in the CCBL and is highly respected in Cape League circles. 
     With a bounty of players tangled up in the college playoffs that are still in progress, Roberts is waiting on players such as Florida Southern’s Ryan Cahalan. Returning to the Cotuit lineup are experienced Cape Leaguers such as Dennis Diaz from Florida International and Jeff Van Houten out of Arizona, which has four players on the team, including Brad Boyer, Jason Donald and John Meloan. 

Commodores looking to move up
     Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy from The Gunnery School in Connecticut is looking forward to carrying on the Commodore spirit this season, his sixth with the club. “You’re always sad to leave and happy to get back here,” says the coach, who notes the tireless efforts of people like Arnie Allen, the unofficial mayor of Commodore country, who passed away last year. 
     With that work ethic to emulate, the Commodores are hoping to break away from the pack this year, a spot that has become all too familiar the last few seasons. Trundy is keeping a keen eye on players such as Jensen Lewis, the 6-foot-3 Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher, who the Commodores depended on last year. 
     Also on the A list for Falmouth are players like Brian Bogusevic, a southpaw who posted a winning record for Tulane this spring while wielding a solid bat, something the Commodores need more of this year. Texas A & M’s Cliff Pennington will play shortstop and college teammate Mark Hamilton is at first base.

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Justin Tordi returns to play for the Hyannis Mets this season.
File photo

King new Hyannis manager
     Greg King will replace Cape local Keith Stohr this season as manager for the Hyannis Mets. King gets his first shot at the helm after holding assistant coaching positions at Harwich, Yarmouth-Dennis, and Cotuit. King, who leads the charge at Thomas College, spoke of the waiting game the Cape League coaches are playing this season. “We had our first practice on Friday,” says King, “and all four guys showed up.”
     All that will change, however, in the coming days as the Mets prepare for opening night. King is anticipating the swift return of speedy shortstop Justin Tordi. Out of Florida, Tordi had the CCBL’s best fielding percentage at short and earned all-star honors for his performance. Also returning are pitchers Mark Sauls and Graham Taylor. Sauls, a 6-foot-4 hurler for Florida State, finished last year for Hyannis with a shutout over Bourne in the West playoffs. Taylor, out of Miami, was 2-0 for the Mets in 2003, with a 1.14 ERA. 

Wareham looking to rebound
     Calling his team the “Wareham Temps,” Gatemen skipper Cooper Farris says he would rather be watching his players on the Cape and not on television, where so many are competing in the College World Series. Farris, now in his fourth season with the Gatemen, is hungry to get the Wareham club back on top, a spot his club occupied in 2001 and 2002 when they won consecutive CCBL crowns.
     Wareham will be without the services of Vanderbilt standout Jeremy Sowers, the player honored with the Robert A. McNeece Award last year that goes out to the league’s top pro prospect. 
     Farris, the 2001 Cape League Manager of the Year, is looking forward to fielding a team that will be highlighted by players like Warner Jones. An all-star last summer, Jones led the Gatemen with a .345 average and listed the Cape’s most base hits for the season and led the SEC in batting for Vanderbilt. 
     Players to watch also include Adam Lind from South Alabama and Mark McCormick from Baylor. Local fans will also delight in catching a glimpse of former Middleboro High School star Tom Thornton, who will suit up for Gatemen after coming off of a successful year at Notre Dame. 

     When the Cape League opens tonight, expect the West Division teams to be gunning for glory once again. In the league where “The Stars of Tomorrow Shine Tonight,” every game is a shootout worth watching. 

By Silene Gordon