24 June, 2004

Play ball! Cape League season opens

Here’s a roundup of bunt singles, curve balls and pop flies from the first week of the Cape Cod Baseball League season.

Catcher J.B. Tucker of the Brewster Whitecaps and a passel of Brewster Little Leaguers pay their respects during the National Anthem on opening day, last Thursday at Cape Tech.
Staff photo by Merrily Lunsford / 200

Cribb one out short of a no-hitter
     The gold star for the first week has to go to Josh Cribb of the Brewster Whitecaps. 

The Clemson University right-hander pitched nine innings of one-hit ball, striking out 10 and walking three as Brewster beat Orleans 2-0 on Tuesday. Matt Anderson’s infield single to second base, with two out in the ninth, was the lone Cardinals hit.
     Cribb had not pitched since the Regionals June 6, and didn’t expect to work beyond the sixth inning, but with the no-hitter going he stayed in.

     “Coming out the first three or four innings I couldn’t throw my breaking ball,” Cribbs said. “I threw about 30 and only 10 were strikes, so I threw mostly fastballs. I knew a lot of guys would have trouble adjusting from aluminum to wood. It’s a big change for them. And I was hitting my spots.”
     Cribbs pitched mostly long relief at Clemson this year, getting only one start and working 60 innings, so he was pleased to get a complete game.
     “My curveball came to me the second part of the game and helped me out a lot,” he noted. “I felt pretty good (Tuesday) night. I would’ve come out earlier, but I had the no-hitter going. I threw 125 pitches. But hopefully I’ll be ready to go my next start.”
Cribbs would have loved to get the no-hitter.
     “It was pretty disappointing,” he admitted. “It was a two-hopper to second base that went off his chest.”
     Cribbs hopes to be a starter at Clemson next year. He threw a couple of complete games in the Coastal Plains League last summer. 

Teams on tenterhooks
     With the College World Series ongoing, along with Team USA tryouts, many teams are still missing talent. Team USA has 36 players vying for 20 roster spots and 26 of them are potential Cape Leaguers.
     Orleans General Manager Sue Horton also noted that there is talk of extending the college season for another two weeks, which would push the College World Series into July. 
     This year’s Cape League season already has been squeezed to accommodate college play, starting about a week later. That is why teams had seven games in seven days to open up. Teams play 44 games (six against each division foe, four against the other division). 
     The Cards have escaped these problems – they have 23 signed players in town. 

Eric Rasmussen of Brewster got to play a couple games with the Whitecaps this year while they waited for their catchers to arrive from the College World Series. Here he is walking off the field with Steve Jones after the ceremonial opening day pitch.
Staff photo by Merrily Lunsford / 2004

A’s get an A so far
     Chatham played every day during the first week and emerged with a 4-3 mark, pleasing Manager John Schiffner.
     “I have no complaints,” he said. “They’re doing good things and playing pretty good baseball. I’m happy where we are. If we win four out of seven every week, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
     While most teams are making do with temporary men, the A’s have virtually their whole contingent here. There are five players at Team USA tryouts, but Chatham has no one in the College World Series.
     “We are what we are,” Schiffner noted. “We’re not waiting on any position players, just pitchers. Offensively we’ll have to hit and run, we don’t have the big power guys. So we’ll have to hit and run, bunts and execute.”
     Ryan Bono leads Chatham with six RBI and has the team’s only homer.
     “Ryan Bono has been a consistent hitter for us,” Schiffner said. “He’s probably had the most quality at bats. But a lot of guys are chipping in. (Second baseman) Chris Getz is very much improved since last year.”
     Getz hit .206 in 97 at-bats for Chatham last year.
     Shortstop Matt Camp was leading the A’s in hitting at .292, while Travis Storrer was batting .280. Andrew Miller struck out 12 men in six innings in winning his first game, while Glenn Swanson fanned 10 in seven in a loss. 

Temps lift Whitecaps
     Brewster opened the season with 12 temporary players and after the first week they still sported 11, but they also sported a 4-2 record.
     Catcher Mark Wagner of the University of California at Irvine was the only player to report in, replacing Brewster’s own Eric Rasmussen who departed for knee surgery. Rasmussen, who played his high school ball at Nauset Regional High School and now catches at Yale University, was hitless in two at bats (strikeout, lineout) in limited action for the Whitecaps.
     Brewster still has six players at the College World Series and five trying out for Team USA. 
     “We have had good productivity out of our temporary players,” Whitecaps General Manager Dave Porter noted.
     Outfielder Brian Jarosinski got the game-winning hit in the opener, a triple, and was batting .375 (6 for 16), while catcher J.B.   Tucker was hitting .333 (5 for 15) and second baseman Will Rymes had five hits, all of Brewster’s three homers are by temps. Tucker, Ryan Robertson and Ben Ziskind and pitchers Brett Cleveland, John Cronin, Phil Davidson and Trevor Powers have combined for no earned runs in nine innings of work. Not bad at all. The permanent players should do so well.
     Some of the temps should stick and other might be invited back later or land on another team.
     “Everyone is signed to contracts,” Porter noted, “it depends on who sticks with Team USA and who does not. We’ll have a strong team when all our guys show up. We’ve got some of the better guys in the country.”

No question here that Drew Davidson (Illinois) of the Mariners is safe at second. Mike Costantino of Hyannis waves off the throw.
Staff photo by Merrily Lunsford / 2004

Cards set to roll
     Orleans started off 1-4, but that is exactly how they began last year, when they won the Cape League Championship.
     With most all their players now in town, Orleans beat Harwich 5-0 Wednesday to win their second game as Chris Nicoll (the winner) and Romas Hicks held Harwich to four hits. 
     “We’ve got to get the roles defined and let the kids play to see what they’ve got,” Manager Carmen Carcone said. “It all comes down to pitching. I’m always optimistic. We haven’t gotten into our routine yet with everybody coming in and out. But I feel good”
Orleans has speedy Matt Cooksey back from last year’s championship squad. He hit .248 last year with 16 stolen bases and 28 runs scored (second in the league).

Schiffner favors veteran swingers
     Manager John Schiffner of Chatham prefers upperclassmen in the field but is not adverse to freshman pitchers.
     “I think if you go back and look, you’ll see it’s tough for freshmen to do really well and dominate,” he reflected. “It’s a difficult league to come into, you’re one year out of high school and you come in and you’re facing the best pitchers in the country. For pitchers it’s a little easier than it is for position players.”
     The A’s are well stocked with sophomores but have no freshman position players, although four freshman hurlers are on the roster.

Stony Brook field making progress
     This should be Brewster’s last full season playing at Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Harwich. They have been there 16 years, since the team was formed, but work is under way at Stony Brook Elementary School in Brewster on a new field.
     “It’s coming along good,” noted project director Chester Robinson. “We did the rough grading, Monday we’ll finish that off. Then we’ll do the fine grading, the sifting of loam, then put in the irrigation. We hope that will be done in July and then we’ll plant the grass in August.”
     The grass may not be thick enough for play by next June so the Whitecaps could start the season at Cape Tech. The Caps hope to install eight to 10 small bleachers holding 40 people each. 
     They have raised $65,000 so far, out of a projected $250,000 they will need, and have received about $110,000 worth of donated labor.
     The field dimensions will be 315 feet down the lines and 395 to center, which is exactly average for the league.

By Rich Eldred