28 June 2006

Crowell added to Brewcapsí brew

It was a mini-high school and college reunion early this season when the Brewster Whitecaps took the field, with three local players, former foes and friends, on board as temporary players. 

For most of the last two decades, no Lower Cape natives played in the Cape League, but last year Cody Crowell of Harwich pitched for the Mariners. This year, he returned as a temporary Brewcap, along with former Harwich battery-mate Adam LaPlante and Nauset high grad Jake Yagjian. 

Crowell has been picked up for the full season, but LaPlante and Yagjian were released Monday. Whitecapsí officials are looking to place them with another team or in another league. 

"I had a pretty good season (at Vanderbilt)," Crowell said after Brewsterís 8-6 loss in Bourne June 21. "I was the Saturday/Sunday starter, and we ended up losing to Georgia Tech in the regionals. I was 6-3 and pitched 96 innings." 

Crowell holds the record for wins at Harwich High and struck out 19 Nauset Warriors in one seven-inning high school game. He was a reliever with the Mariners last year, starting well and then tailing off to a 1-6 record in 18 games. 

He has gotten off to another strong start for the Whitecaps, compiling a 1-0 record, 0.82 earned-run average and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings. He got a start June 19 and tossed seven frames of six-hit ball as Brewster beat Falmouth 4-2. 

"I had command of all my pitches the whole day," he said. "That really helped me. The fastball was there, my second and third pitches (curve and changeup) and Iím working on a slider, too." 

Crowell whiffed 11 against Falmouth. He relieved in the Capsí season opening 2-0 loss to Orleans and threw four innings of two-hit shutout baseball while whiffing six. 

He had planned to take the summer off. 

"Iím living at home and the field is five miles away," Crowell said. "I wasnít going to throw that much since I threw 96 innings in college, but the opportunity came along and I took it." 

Crowell welcomed the chance to start instead of close. 

"Itís real nice," he said "I like closing, too, but starting is what Iím doing here and at school. You know when youíre pitching, and you have four or five games to get ready." 

And pitching to his old high school catcher, LaPlante, was a pleasure as well. 

"Itís nice to be in the game and being able to throw to him. We went to high school together, and he knows what my strengths are," Crowell said. 

Yagjian was a rival. 

"We played against each other, but we were also friendly with each other, and being friends, I always supported him," Crowell said. 

The Whitecaps lost one pitcher, Erick Davis of Stanford, with an eye injury on a line drive. Heís recovering, but that opened up a roster spot for Crowell. 

"Iím just taking it game by game," Crowell said. "Iíve set the goal of coming out and winning every game I throw, but I have no long-term goals, Iím just taking it day by day. I canít complain about days like this. Playing in the Cape League, you canít so much better." 

Crowell just got back, so he missed most of Harwich Highís tourney run to the state championship this year, but heís happy for his old teammates. 

"Itís good for them," the college junior said. "Itís a good group of kids. The year before they did well." 

LaPlante, who also graduated from Harwich in 2003, agreed. 

"Itís pretty cool. Good for them," he said. "When youíre young, itís like a dream. Itís what you want to do. Ryan Soares will be good at the next level, too. Coach (Fred) Thacher always manages to get the best out of his players somehow." 

Wheatonís duo 

Old rivals Adam LaPlante and Jake Yagjian were reunited at Wheaton College. LaPlante is a junior and Yagjian a sophomore. The Lyons won a school record 42 games and the NCAA New England Division III title. They lost in the final round of the national tournament, 7-2 to Marietta. 

Yagjian led the team with a .368 average and 71 hits while playing second base. He had 10 at-bats with Brewster, collecting two hits. He also walked three times. 

"Itís great," he said. "The level of play is awesome. The kids are great. Itís fun getting thrown together. We really didnít have too many practices here, and weíre not familiar with everyoneís style of play." 

At Wheaton, LaPlante hit .319 with nine home runs and 38 RBI in 52 games. He was hitless in 16 at-bats with the Whitecaps. 

"Baseball is a game of adjustments," he said. "Itís just how quickly you can make the adjustments when youíre playing at another level. Youíre hitting with wood, and thatís an adjustment and a lot of the guys are throwing 90 every day. But the more you play, the more you feel at home. You have to trust your ability and make sure you donít get too far over your head." 

LaPlante and Yagjian were roommates at Wheaton and teammates on the Lower Cape Senior Babe Ruth team. Yagjian noted his Nauset pals came out to see the games. 

"Theyíre very supportive," he said. 

Yagjian is an economics major who will go into business, but heíd love a shot at playing baseball. 

"I want to do well here and represent Division III a little bit. There arenít many D-III guys in the Cape League," he said. 

Theyíre still basking in the glow of playing for the national championship. 

"The whole team jelled and came together," LaPlante said. "We were 7-6 at one point. It was just finding the groove. It hasnít sunk in. It still hasnít hit us. We were one game away from the national championship. All the guys on the team, I love them like brothers. Iíll never forget any of them." 

By Rich Eldred/ reldred@cnc.com