Around The Horn August 1, 2014

Bourne Braves: Mark Laird, of LSU, has had himself quite a nice season for the Bourne Braves. The outfielder has been a catalyst in the lineup for the Braves, hitting .333 for the season with 18 runs scored. He entered play on Tuesday with the league’s eighth-best batting average, and its best stolen base percentage. Laird has swiped all 16 bases he’s attempted to pilfer over the course of the season.

Brewster Whitecaps: Singling out one reason that the Caps have struggled this year would be tough, but certainly pitching has been an issue for the team this year. Brewster is in danger of missing the playoffs, and a lack of depth on the mound could be why. Two hurlers have accounted for just shy of half of the team’s wins. Cody Ponce (Cal Poly) has had an all-star season, with a 3-1 record and 2.10 ERA. Andrew Naderer (Grand Canyon) has started and worked out of the pen, and is also 3-1, with a 2.27 ERA. The rest of the staff is a combined 7-22 with a collaborative 4.29 ERA.

Chatham Anglers: Boston College’s Chris Shaw does not get cheated when he steps to the plate for the Anglers. The Lexington native has had the most at-bats in the Cape League this season, with 146, and has only walked on 12 occasions. The left-handed hitter has made the most of his hacks, though. He’s hitting .288 and the power-hitting Massachusetts native leads the league in home runs, with seven, and runs batted in, with 29.

Cotuit Kettleers: Jeff Kinley (Michigan State) has been closing games all season for the Kettleers all season, but his most recent outing was the first start of his college career. With the Cotuit starters struggling, manager Mike Roberts used his star reliever to start against Wareham on July 25. Kinley, who has three saves and has worked 15 times this year, did a great job. Over five innings, he allowed just two hits and one earned run, with four strikeouts. Ironically, the bullpen let him down though. Kinley left with a 2-1 lead, but Wareham scored five times in the sixth inning against the new Kettleers’ pitcher.

Falmouth Commodores: Commodores’ shortstop Kevin Newman is attempting to become the first player in the modern age of the Cape Cod Baseball League to win back-to-back batting titles. Newman (Arizona) won the league title last year with a .375 average for the Commodores. He entered play on Tuesday night with a league best average of .376. If the infielder is able to pull off the unprecedented feat, it would be the fifth time since 2007 that a Falmouth player had won the crown. In addition to his title last year, Todd Cunningham won it in 2009, Jimmy Cesario was the winner in 2008, and Conor Gillaspie won in 2007. Prior to that, a Commodore had not won the title since 1984, when Jim McCollum hit .413 for the season.

Harwich Mariners: The Mariners are looking to take home their third championship in seven years, and are certainly one of the favorites to win it all. The M’s, who entered play on Tuesday tied for first place in the east division, along with Orleans, have succeeded largely in part to having perhaps the best all-around offense in the CCBL. Harwich has scored the most runs in the league (201), has the second-most hits (353), the most walks (164) and the second-most total bases (465). All-star Ian Happ (Cincinnati) has paced the high-scoring squad, batting .323 for the year with four homers and 22 runs batted in.

Hyannis Harbor Hawks: There may not be a more consistent player in the Cape League than John LaPrise (Virginia). Had his college team not gone so deep in the College World Series, LaPrise would have been here earlier and would have a shot at the league’s batting title. He won’t get enough at-bats to qualify for the title, but the infielder is still having a remarkable season. LaPrise entered action on Tuesday with a .439 batting average, with hits in 25 of his 57 at-bats. Since July 9, he’s played in 13 games for the Hawks and has at least one hit in every game but one. He hit in 10 straight before an 0-for-3 outing against Chatham. He bounced back the next night by going 4-for-5, and then had two hits the next night.

Orleans Firebirds: Bobby Dalbec (Arizona) will have good memories and bad memories in regard to his summer in the Cape League. A pitcher and third baseman, Dalbec has been great on the mound. He’s compiled a 1.63 earned run average over nine appearances in relief, with 12 strikeouts and just three walks in 11 innings of work. At the plate, though, he’s struggled quite a bit. Dalbec has struck out 39 times, the second most of any player in the league, in 25 games. He’s also hitting just .185 for the season.

Wareham Gatemen: It’s been a rough season for the Gatemen, who look like they’ll miss the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs for the second year in a row. Reliever Liam O’Sullivan (St. Leo’s) of Grafton has struggled as much as any of the Gatemen. The right-hander relief pitcher has allowed a league-most 21 earned runs. Over his 10 appearances, O’Sullivan has managed to get through his stint without allowing a run just twice. He’s yet to pitch an inning without allowing a hit.

Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox: Center fielder Andrew Stevenson (LSU) is running away with the league’s stolen base crown for the season. The speedy left-handed hitter, who hails from Louisiana, is 19-for-20 on stolen base attempts for the season. He’s also hitting a robust .306, with a homer and 13 runs batted in. Stevenson could finish the year with more steals than strikeouts. He entered play on Tuesday having gone down on strikes just 21 times in 144 at-bats.

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