Temp to Perm
Walk-off home run breaks Mets’ losing streak

 July 8, 2005


     The bags were packed. The car was loaded. The bases weren’t, but they didn’t need to be.

When Teddy Dziuba stepped to the plate with one out and teammate Brandon Masters on second base in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, he knew it probably was his last plate appearance as a member of the Hyannis Mets. Trailing 1-0 to Wareham, the Mets were two outs away from their 11th loss in a row. 

The Closer - Hyannis Mets reliever Daniel Latham of Tulane pitches in the ninth inning Monday. Latham picked up the save in the Mets’ 3-2 win over Yarmouth-Dennis at McKeon Field.
David Curran /Barnstable Patriot

The Babson catcher was with the team as a temporary player, signed to fill in while the roster settled down during the first week or two of the season, but had been told before the game that the Mets’ catching situation was set. Even though his two home runs led the team, he was to be released.

A few hours later, a different message made its way to him: Don’t leave town. And by Independence Day two days after that, Dziuba (pronounced ju-ba) had dodged the very independence he didn’t want: he was committed to the Mets for the rest of the season.

Dzuiba’s two-run, walk-off home run gave the Mets their second win of the season, touching off a “Dziuba-lant” celebration at home plate (props to Mets radio broadcaster John Cabral for the on-the-spot pun on the catcher’s name), to say nothing of a three-game winning streak. Asked to relive the at-bat a couple of days later, a wide smile crossed Dzuiba’s face.

“I’ve got it engraved right here,” he said, pointing to his head. The first pitch was a ball, so Dziuba was ready when the next pitch came. “I knew 1-0, he was going to come with a see-me-hit-me fastball,” he said. He saw it and he hit it. Over the fence.

“I knew it was out the second I hit it,” he said. But he didn’t know a roster spot for a catcher was about to open up when Stanford’s Brian Juhl went down for the year with an injury. Even as he was circling the bases, he said, “I still thought it was my last hurrah.” Kets ‘n’ Mets notes

The Cotuit Kettleers won six of seven to climb into second place in the Western Division before losses Monday and Tuesday dropped their record to 9-8-1 and back into third behind Bourne (11-6-1) and Wareham (10-6-1). The Kets’ Bryan Harris rode a seven-game hitting streak to the top of the league with a .339 average through Tuesday. Harris had at least two hits in six of the seven contests, hitting a blistering .500 (15-for-30) over the stretch before the streak was snapped with an 0-for-3 outing against Wareham Tuesday.

“He’s making progress,” said Cotuit skipper Mike Roberts, whose team won six of seven before losing two in a row Monday and Tuesday. “Bryan is beginning to find the rhythm in his swing that he had last summer,” Roberts said.

Harris, of Louisiana State, missed the entire 2004 college season with an injury and took a little time to get untracked with last year’s Kets before finishing the season among the league’s leading hitters.

This year, his playing time at LSU was limited, but his swing is coming around.

“Hopefully he can maintain it like he did last year,” Roberts said. Cotuit has been getting the strong pitching baseball teams at any level must have if they want to contend. Through Tuesday, the Kets had two starters among the league’s top ten in earned run average: Nathan Culp of Missouri was second with an 0.55 mark and Clay Dirks of LSU was 10th at 1.14. “They’re both veteran left-handers out of two very good programs,” Roberts said. “They’re mature, they change speeds well, and they throw strikes.” Closer Chris Toneguzzi was tied for third in the league with four saves. “He’s an excellent closer,” Roberts said. “Even though he was not drafted last year out of Purdue, I do think he has closer potential above this level.”

Mets manager Greg King knew his team still was full of life despite the 10-game skid that left them at 1-12-1 when he peered at the Mets’ dugout from the third-base coaching box in the inning that ended with Dziuba’s clout. “In the ninth inning that night, I turned around and the guys were doing a little rally photo pose,” King said.

The Mets’ revitalization - 4-13-1 through Tuesday - was replete with one-run games. All three in the winning streak were decided by one run, and so were the losses that bookended it. Going into yesterday’s action, the Mets had four one-run losses to go with the three wins. Last year it was the Kettleers who made one-run games a habit, ending the 44-game season with more than 20. 

The Mets will be in Sandwich Monday to host Western Division rival Falmouth. This is the fourth consecutive year the Mets have played a home game at Sandwich High School’s Fenton Field, and all three previous games have drawn big crowds. Game time is 7 p.m. A kids’ clinic is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and pregame festivities begin at 6:45 p.m. The park is on Quaker Meeting House Road, just north of Route 6 at Exit 3. Coming from Barnstable, take a right at the end of the exit ramp. Coming from Bourne, turn left at the end of the ramp. The park will be on the left. The game is sponsored by The Community Bank.

University of Texas right-hander Randy Boone is scheduled to make his first start for Hyannis Saturday in Falmouth. Boone is one of two pitchers from the College World Series champion Longhorns whose arrival the Mets have been eagerly anticipating.

Mets right-hander Stephen Perry of Dartmouth College, featured in last week’s Patriot, had to leave Saturday’s game with what turned out to be a stress fracture. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.

If you tried to listen to last Friday’s Mets game at Bourne or yesterday’s game at Orleans on Teamline’s telephone service and found you had to pay to listen, the reason is the Mets - as well as the Cotuit Kettleers and every other Cape League team except Chatham - pick up the host team’s feed when they’re on the road, and Bourne and Orleans are offering their games by telephone on a pay-to-listen basis this season. That means the Mets’ games at Bourne July 22 and at Orleans Aug. 6, and the Kettleers’ games at Bourne today and Aug. 5 and at Orleans July 14 and July 27, will be pay-to-listen by phone. All other games will be free, and all Cape League games, including those at Bourne and Orleans, are available free via Teamline on the internet. Go to www.hyannismets.org or www.kettleers.org, or call Teamline at 1-800-846-4700. The Kets’ four-digit code is 3358; the Mets’ is 2602. Barring rainouts or other postponements, the Cape League season will pass its halfway point Sunday.

By David Curran


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