Barnstable’s boys of summer are back 
Kettleers, Mets return for another home run season 

 June 12, 2008


Written by Kathleen Szmit

Baseball fans, it’s time to pack those stands! Tomorrow night marks the official start of the Cape Cod Baseball League’s summer game series, with both the Hyannis Mets and Cotuit Kettleers back in action.

2008 marks a year of great change for the Hyannis Mets. Not only will the team play beneath the recently-installed lights at McKeon Park; they’ll do so in stylish new uniforms under the watchful eyes of new field manager Rick Robinson and new General Manager Bill Bussiere.
Robinson joins the fray from Young Harris College in Georgia, where he has been head coach for 10 seasons. Robinson was also a starting outfielder for the 1984 Appalachian State Mountaineers, who made the NCAA tournament.

Robinson is looking forward to playing in the same league as friend and fellow coach Mike Roberts, manager of the Cotuit Kettleers. 

The Mets will also be overseen by a new general manager and assistant general manager. Bill Bussiere has been named the new GM in the wake of John Howitt’s retirement and has been involved with the Mets for many years. Bussiere is a past president of the Hyannis Athletic Association, which oversees the Mets. 

On the league level he has served on the executive committee and on special subcommittees in charge of overseeing broadcasting, umpiring, the CCBL’s hall of fame and the All-Star Game (which he chaired in 2005).

After more than two years of waiting and countless complications along the way, the HAA was thrilled when their long-awaited field lights were finally installed this winter.

As for the Mets’ new uniforms, according to Bussiere it was time. 

“Our others were falling apart, so we needed new uniforms,” he said. “They’re very nice. They’re our regular colors, orange and blue. The home uniforms are white with blue piping and blue letters on an orange background, and the away uniforms are royal blue with orange letters with a blue background.”

According to an official team preview, the Mets will have four returning players from the 2007 season: catcher Dale Cornstubble,infielder Ryan Jackson, outfielder Joey Gonzalesand right-handed pitcher Austin Hudson.

New pitchers joining Hudson include Matt Ridings of Western Kentucky and Colin Bates of North Carolina.

Offensively, Vanderbilt’sCurt Casali, who will also play for the Mets, is one to watch, boasting a .317 average with 13 RBIs in just 60 at-bats.

This year the Hyannis Mets saw several players picked up in the MLB draft including James Darnell, Shane Peterson, Tyler Stohr and Ryan Flaherty.

Coming off a tough 2007 season fraught with injuries, the Kettleers are looking forward to a much better summer in 2008.

Field Manager Mike Roberts returns for his fifth season with the Kettleers, having led the team to its Western Division Championship win in 2006. Roberts’ lifetime collegiate coaching record is 850-450-3.

Roberts is especially proud of the fact that his son Brian is a two-time all-star for the Baltimore Orioles, for which he plays second base.

Fans will be excited to learn that Cape-League All-Star and Kettleers power hitter Robert Stock will be back for another stellar summer. Stock is currently hitting .331 and recorded two saves as a relief pitcher for University of Southern California.

Newcomers Evan Crawford and Dallas Poulk will join catcher-pitcher Stock. 

Murphy also encourages fans to keep their eyes on Jason Kipnis from Arizona State, a fourth round pick. “He’s just an exciting player,” he said. 

Murphy is also impressed with Kipnis’ Arizona teammate Mike Leake, as well as Brett Jackson and Jeff Kobernus from UC Berkeley. According to Murphy, Kobernus is second in stolen bases for his college team and is hitting over .300.

Murphy is pleased at what he has seen from the team thus far, noting that there is hardy defense and good speed among his offense and strong pitching defensively. 

“It’s early so it’s hard to tell [what the season looks like] until all the kids get in here and really gel,” said Murphy. “Our pitching looks like it will be solid to support the rest of the team.”

Right now Kettleers fans are most proud that a good number of players from the past were picked up in the recent MLB draft, including two in the first round.

Justin Smoak and Reese Havens were first-round draft picks No. 11 and 22 respectively and were followed in second through eighth round picks Josh Lindblom, Kyle Russell, Ryne White, Dave Duncan, JB Shuck, Tony Delmonico and Caleb Joseph. 

Mike Bianucci also made the draft but, according to Murphy, is weighing his options and might still return to the Kettleers.

Past and present Major Leaguers who once played for Cotuit include Ryan Braun (Royals), Kevin Jarvis (Red Sox), Andy Cannizaro (Yankees), Braden Looper (Cardinals) and Garrett Atkins (Rockies). 

Cotuit kicks off its 2008 season at home against Brewster tomorrow night at 5 p.m. at Lowell Field. Be sure to enjoy a world-class hot dog with all the fixins from the concession stand.


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