14 July 2006

Whitecaps feel frothy at 13-10

Mirroring the real life surf, the Brewster Whitecaps are starting to make waves in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

They've surged into second place (13-10) in the Eastern Division behind the Orleans Cardinals (14-10), whom they bested 7-1 Tuesday evening at the Caps' new field at Stony Brook Elementary School.

Brewster hasn't exactly been on fire, 3-3 over the last six games, but with two big victories this week, the Whitecaps closed the gap on the Cards and with all the players in town are starting to feel more like a team.

Brewster batters belted three home runs in the win over Orleans. Matt LaPorta of Florida clubbed two of them, both over the wall in left. Outfielder Colin Cowgill of Kentucky, who was batting .157 going into the game, hit a three-run shot in the eighth to go with a double, single and walk, and he's now at .207.

LaPorta is hitting .316.

"We won against a great ballclub. That's the key," LaPorta said. "This caliber of pitching is tough. I've only had a couple of weeks to adapt. I'm starting to find my timing. The pitching is so good. They can spot their fastball, curveball, changeup, split-finger. This is just the 14th game I've played in a month-and-a-half."

Florida didn't go deep into the College World Series this year. LaPorta played on Cape two years ago with the Y-D Red Sox. He hit nine homers and drove in 20 runs while hitting .234.

"I'm back up here for round two," he said. "Hopefully we'll win another Cape League championship. I'll do the best I can to help the team. The fans and the people up here, everybody is so nice. They enjoy coming out to watch baseball."

On Tuesday, the fans got to watch a well-pitched game by Barry Enright of Pepperdine and Stockton, Calif. He shut down Orleans on five singles through seven innings. The Cards took advantage of an error by left fielder Jared Clark (Cal-State Fullerton) to score a run, as Ryan Sontag scored on Josh Satin's infield hit that ticked off second baseman Tavo Hall's glove.

"I was hitting my spots early with the fastball and getting ahead of hitters," Enright said. "My slider was the second pitch, more to righties. Quick innings, I got strikes on them and made them hit it."

Enright's ERA was 5.91 entering the game, but he lowered it to 4.08 and improved to 2-1.

"It was a tough first two starts," he said. "I had two weeks off, and there was a lot of rust. But the guys played well behind me. It is awesome pitching against wood."

The fact that players are no longer coming and going helps, as well. The temporary players are gone, and everyone is here who's going to be here.

"It's a lot easier," Enright said. "We're able to mesh well. Everyone knows each other. You build relationships, and that's really helped us as a team."

Brewster nipped Wareham 2-1 on Wednesday behind Shaun Seibert (Arkansas), who gave up two hits in six innings and struck out six. Seibert is 3-0 with an 0.00 ERA in 28 innings.

The Caps have also gotten great work from Harwich native Cody Crowell of Vanderbilt. He came on board as a temp and was signed for the full season. Crowell leads the league in strikeouts with 35 in 30 innings. He's 1-2 with a 2.93 ERA.

On Monday, he lost 1-0 to Wareham while pitching a complete-game four-hitter and whiffing 11.

"Cody Crowell was outstanding," veteran Brewster manager Bob Macaluso said after Tuesday's game. "Barry Enright pitched good tonight. Our starters are going deeper into games, which saves our bullpen."

Seibert has been superb and Cole DeVries of Minnesota has pitched well. Macaluso hasn't settled on a closer, but Will Atwood of South Carolina has a 2.04 ERA in eight games of relief. Adam McDaniel (Georgia) leads the team with three saves and hasn't allowed an earned run in seven games.

"I've got four guys in the bullpen," Macaluso said. "I think we do have a good closer in McDaniel. He has closed a couple of games, and I'd like to see that be his role."

Colt Hynes (Texas Tech) has two saves and wrapped up Enright's win Tuesday.

"He hit his spots and did a nice job," Macaluso said. "He has been struggling (9.00 ERA). Atwood was pitched well out of the pen."

Enright has a save, and so does Brad Rulon of Georgia Tech.

"They've been together a few weeks now," Macaluso said. "We've won a couple of nice games where we've played well. We've got to have a more consistent offense. We haven't been able to put back-to-back games together offensively."

In addition to LaPorta, the Caps are getting good production from second baseman David Adams of Virginia (.281), David Cooper of Cal-State Fullerton (.257), Matt Cusick of USC (.259), Andrew Romine of Arizona State (.286) and Justin Snyder of San Diego (.282). But they're hitting just .219 as a team.

"We've got a little power and some versatility," Macaluso said. "It's a good group of guys, and they're getting along well. They've been working hard. I'd like to do a little better in the second half and make a run. We'll see if we can do that."

The Whitecaps celebrated their new field July 2 before 2,000 fans. The picnic area in right was named after project manager Chester Robinson.

By Rich Eldred/ reldred@cnc.com