18 August 2006

Y-D wins Cape League title

Yarmouth-Dennis starting pitcher Terry Doyle took to the mound Sunday for the final game of the Cape Cod League playoffs to the clang of cowbells and chants of "Let's go Red Sox" from the overflow crowd that lined Red Wilson Field

Like his Wareham Gatemen counterpart, Jeremy Bleich, the hard-throwing right-hander from Warwick, R.I., was pitching on four days rest. However, he cruised through a 1-2-3 first inning on the way to combining with David Robertson for a two-hitter in a 5-1 win.

The 2-1 series victory gave the Red Sox their second Cape League title in three seasons.

Doyle, who had been the Red Sox' most effective starter during the season, struck out nine Gatemen with a fastball that touched the low 90s and a combination of off-speed pitches that confused the Wareham lineup throughout the game.

"It was all about location," he said. "I was throwing a bunch of sliders to keep them off-balance, but I had all four pitches working."

Wareham's pitching prowess was on display during the Western Division series, as the Gatemen staff combined to shut out the league's top hitting club in its two-game sweep of Cotuit.

Y-D faced a more difficult task, having lost the divisional opener to Brewster before coming back to win the final two games, a pattern that played out in the championship series, as well.

Facing elimination after a sloppy 4-2 loss in the opening game Aug. 11, the Red Sox rallied in the second game Saturday, scoring four runs in the eighth inning, capped by Luke Sommer's two-run blast.

Y-D then held off a ninth-inning rally by the Gatemen to win 5-4, as Robertson, who was named playoff MVP, struck out Ryan Gotcher with the tying run on base, setting the stage for Sunday's heroics.

BC players came through for Y-D

Bleich, who had baffled Cotuit with his array of off-speed pitches, had difficulties with control in the first inning Sunday, giving up a bases-loaded walk before a spectacular play by third baseman Bradley Suttle ended the Y-D rally.

Staked to a 1-0 lead, Doyle cruised through the next three innings, striking out four batters while no-hitting the Gatemen.

It was the type of effort Red Sox manager Scott Pickler had come to expect from Doyle and his Boston College teammate Kevin Boggan.

"Both those BC guys were great all season," said Pickler.

Boggan pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball Saturday, setting the stage for his teammate's effort in the deciding game.

The Red Sox expanded their lead in the bottom of the fourth, as with runners on first and second and no outs, Pickler played small ball by having the next three batters bunt.

"You try for a run an inning in this league," said the ninth-year coach.

Putting pressure on the Gatemen defense worked, as Sommer's bunt was misplayed, scoring Buster Posey, and Jordan Pacheco's sacrifice bunt plated Michael Taylor.

Staked to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth, Doyle promptly gave a run back, as Suttle homered deep into the trees in right field. But with the tying run at the plate and action in the Y-D bullpen, Doyle settled down to strike out Steffan Wilson and Beamer Weems to end the inning.

The Red Sox defense, which struggled in the series opener, came up big in the sixth, as Posey and Brad Emaus made terrific plays in the infield to keep Y-D in the lead and preserve the win for Doyle, whose day was done.

"I was kind of pulled early," said Doyle of his six-inning performance. "But with D-Rob (Robertson) in the pen, it wasn't really a problem."

Doyle displayed the type of selfless attitude Pickler saw from his team throughout its up-and-down season. Y-D opened the year 8-11 and was in last place as the season neared its midpoint. But an influx of talent following the College World Series and a team-first attitude produced a nine-game winning streak and a 20-5 dash down the stretch.

"There weren't any big leaguers on the team," said Pickler. "They all bought into the system and knew their roles."

A case in point was Robertson, who went from losing his closer's role at the beginning of the season to being playoff MVP.

"I had some rough outings in the beginning of the year," said Robertson. "But I worked on my mechanics while setting up for Josh (Field)."

Pickler said it was great to have two closers.

"You have to be good in the eighth and ninth in this league," he said.

Robertson was more than good in the finale, as he pitched three innings of no-hit ball, striking out the side in the last two innings to seal the game and the championship for the Red Sox.

"I set up for Field for a long time, but when I got the chance to close I just took it," he said.

As Robertson and his teammates celebrated with fans on the field, many players spoke of their eagerness to get home after a long summer of ball. But in the years to come, the members of the 2006 Red Sox will always remember their championship season in the Cape Cod sun.


Dave Colantuono