17 September 2005

Team Season Reviews


West Division 

Bourne Braves West Division Champs
     The 2005 West Division Champion Bourne Braves can reflect on a summer that almost had it all, showcasing the talent, sportsmanship and class of the entire organization.
     By the All-Star break, the Braves had taken a firm grasp of first place with a 21-16-1 record and looked to clinch their first division championship since 2003.
     The Braves were awarded the 2005 Commissioner’s Cup, making them the third team since the award was established last year to win on the merits of sportsmanship, prestige, and community involvement on and off the field.
     It comes as no surprise that pitching was the dominant factor in the make-up of this year’s squad. Romas Hicks (NC State) led the league in appearances with 23, while Forrest Cory III (William & Mary) finished fourth in the league in innings pitched with 58⅔. 
     Houston’s Brad Lincoln solidified his role on the pitching staff by finishing fourth in the league’s Top 10 category with a 1.32 ERA. He also compiled a 3-1 record with 56 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched. Lincoln was awarded the Manny Robello 10th Player Award, an honor given to the player who contributes on all levels to his baseball team. At the plate, Lincoln finished the season with a .243 batting average, six home runs, and 25 RBI. 
     Offensively, the Braves struggled all season long. One bright spot for the Braves was the emergence of Mike Hernandez (Oklahoma State), who in five playoff games finished with a torrid .524 batting average.
     Lincoln, Cory, and Gib Hobson (NC State) represented the Braves at the 2005 All-Star Game.
Field Manager Harvey Shapiro became the all-time wins leader in Bourne, with 68 victories and 180 career Cape League wins, placing him eighth on the all-time list. He needs 28 more wins to move him ahead to seventh place. 
     After clinching their second West Division title in three years, the Braves swept the Cotuit Kettleers in two games before meeting up for a rematch of the 2003 championship series with the Orleans Cardinals. Unfortunately, history was repeated as the Braves succumbed to the high-powered Cardinals offense, this time in three games. 
     The Braves were pleased to announce that next season will be their first at a new venue. Plans are in place to develop a state-of-the-art facility in conjunction with the Upper Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Michael Kydd, CCBL Intern, kydd@capecodbaseball.org

Cotuit Kettleers
     The Cotuit Kettleers ended the regular season with a push, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. But a couple mistakes and a few great pitching performances by the Bourne Braves ended Cotuit’s season after the West Division Playoffs. 
     The Kettleers qualified for the playoffs on the final day of the season with a record of 22-19-3. But the free-swinging ways that vaulted them into the postseason doomed them to a two-game sweep at the hands of the Braves.
     Coach Mike Roberts and general manager Bruce Murphy signed a team built for speed to fit the style of baseball Roberts prefers to play. Among the leaders in steals for Cotuit were Emeel Salem (Alabama), who was in the Top 10 in the league with 15, and Shane Jordan (Stetson). 
     The Kettleers fielded five All-Stars in the midsummer classic, including four starters – second baseman Brad Boyer (Arizona), third baseman Bryan Harris (Cal State Fullerton), shortstop Jason Donald (Arizona), and catcher Sean Gaston (Notre Dame) in right field.
     Harris came back to Cotuit for his second season, and was as successful as he had been in 2004. Bryan led the team in RBIs, hits, and home runs. Besides Harris, the team was full of many consistent hitters who helped the Kettleers win games with timely hitting and unselfish play. 
     Cotuit brought in an unheralded pitching staff that delivered many great performances throughout the season. The staff was led by aces Clay Dirks (LSU), Josh Johnson (Mississippi St.) and Nathan Culp (Missouri). Johnson led the team with four wins and recorded a 1.83 ERA, also a team best. All three starters recorded 40-plus innings and enjoyed many stellar outings.
     Not to be forgotten was starter Jeff Manship (Notre Dame), who recorded a team-high 50 innings pitched and 45 strikeouts. 
     The Kettleer bullpen was solid in the eighth and ninth innings, when All-Star closer Chris Toneguzzi was lights-out good. “Guzzi,” a fiery 6-2, 250-pound right-hander, struck fear into opposing batters. In 22 appearances, he recorded a 2.08 ERA with eight saves, 31 strikeouts, and only 16 hits allowed. 
Nick Mucci, CCBL Intern, mucci@capecodbaseball.org

Falmouth Commodores
     After earning numerous accolades and a trip to the CCBL Championship Series last summer, the Falmouth Commodores were met with high hopes in 2005.
     But despite finishing a strong 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Commodores narrowly missed the playoffs behind Cotuit. The Commodores ended the regular season placed third in the strong West Division with a 22-21-1 record.
     Fans were excited to cheer RBI machines Mark Hamilton (Tulane) and Jon Still (Stetson). And in finishing with a team ERA of 3.86 and 432 strikeouts, the pitching staff was effective. However, the mound corps didn’t click with the offense. The absence of key players explained a rocky start in which they won only one of the first seven games. Temporary players substituted the first games of the season for star players Hamilton, Warren McFadden (Tulane), Sean Morgan (Tulane), veteran starter Dallas Buck (Oregon State), and ace pitcher Stephen Faris (Clemson). 
     Walk-on pitcher Tim Norton (Connecticut) simply exploded onto the Cape League scene. The hard-throwing right-hander compiled 77 strikeouts in 61 innings and finished 5-1 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA. Norton received two postseason awards – the Claffey Award for the top New England prospect and the B.F.C. Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher Award, which he shared with Chatham southpaw Andrew Miller. 
     Still (Stetson) was the best offensive catcher in the league, finishing with five homers, 28 RBIs, and a team-high .316 batting average. Matt Antonelli (Wake Forest) played another solid season at the hot corner, leading the league in runs scored and finishing with a solid .267 batting average. Hamilton contributed mightily by batting .272 with six home runs, finishing second in the league with 33 RBIs. 
     Starting pitcher Brian Sinkbeil (Southwest Missouri State) enjoyed a spectacular year, finishing 5-1 with 59 K’s and a 2.38 ERA. Antonelli, Buck, Hamilton, Norton, Sinkbeil, and Still represented Falmouth in the Cape League All-Star Game, while Hamilton, Norton, and Still were all named to the All-League Team at the conclusion of the season.
Jason Itzkowitz, CCBL Intern, itzkowitz@capecodbaseball.org

Wareham Gatemen
     On a team blessed with several dominant pitchers, the Wareham Gatemen looked poised to claim one of the two West Division playoff spots in the 2005 season.
     But after losing a few key players during the middle of the year and having a lineup that struggled down the stretch, the Gatemen slid from the second position they held for most of the season. 
     The Gatemen had one of the league’s top pitching staffs, ranked first in wins with a sub-2.00 ERA early on in the season. The staff was led by All-Star starter and North Carolina product Daniel Bard, who led the league in strikeouts with 82. He also recorded a 3-3 record with a 1.25 ERA. Bard featured an overpowering fastball that dominated hitters, but he relied on off-speed pitches to keep opponents off balance. 
     Along with Bard, the staff included pitchers near the top of most of the pitching categories. John Lalor (Mississippi State) led the Gatemen in wins (5) and was second in the league with a 1.16 ERA. Lalor pitched deep into games and flirted with several complete games. 
     When the Gatemen took lead into the late innings, all was safe and sound when Justin Masterson (Bethel College) came in from the pen. Masterson recorded 10 saves, good for second in the league, and was second in appearances with 22.
     In the 2005 All-Star Game, the Gatemen fielded seven players, including starting pitcher Bard and veteran center fielder Lance Salsgiver (Harvard). Their reserves included Dan Silva Sportsmanship Award-winning catcher Joel Collins (South Alabama), first basemen Whit Robbins (Georgia Tech), and pitchers Masterson, Lalor, and Wade Leblanc (Alabama). 
     Salsgiver led the team with a .301 batting average and came up with many clutch hits throughout the season. Unfortunately for the Gatemen, Lance’s bat was not enough, as the rest of the lineup struggled and the team lost seven of its last nine games.
Nick Mucci, CCBL Intern, mucci@capecodbaseball.org

Hyannis Mets
     After qualifying for the playoffs three of the previous five summers, the injury-plagued Hyannis Mets suffered through one of the worst seasons in Cape League history in 2005.
     With a record of 7-36-1, the Mets eclipsed the league mark for futility with the lowest point total and most losses in a modern season. They also finished last in both hitting (.207) and pitching (5.04 ERA).
     Finishing the season on a nine-game slide with losses in 23 of their last 24 games, the Mets also suffered losing streaks of 10 and 14 games during other parts of the campaign.
     Hyannis lost two of its most celebrated returnees, NCAA Division I Player of the Year Shane Robinson of Florida and right-handed ace pitcher Kyle McCulloch of national champion Texas, both selected to play for Team USA.
     The Mets also lost an amazing 16 players to injury either before or during the season, which left the team devoid of depth and balance.
     Mike Baxter (Vanderbilt) led the team in batting at .261 in 25 games before being signed to a professional contract, while infielder Kyle Norrid (Memphis) was close behind at .260 and led the team with 39 hits and eight doubles.
     The lone All-Star for Hyannis was first baseman Andy D’Alessio (Clemson), who was hitting .320 midway through the season before finishing at .254 with one homer and a team-leading 16 RBIs. 
The catching duo of Teddy Dziuba (Babson) and Justin Tellam (UNLV) combined for seven of the team’s 10 homers.
     Stephen Perry led the team with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings pitched, while Dan Latham (Tulane, 1-0, 4 SV, 2.55) and Chris Duke (San Diego CC; 1-0, 3.08 ERA) were also effective. Hard-throwing lefty Charlie Furbush (St. Joseph’s-ME; 1-5, 5.40 ERA) led the team with 55 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched. 
John Garner, Jr., CCBL Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting

John Garner, Jr.
CCBL Director of
Public Relations & Broadcasting
(508) 790-0394 johnwgarner@earthlink.net 
Contributing Editor: Will Bussiere

Interns:  Stephanie Falco, Jason.Itzkowitz, Jenna Kubesch, Michael Kydd, Nicholas Mucci, Colin Reed