Around the Horn Header

The season is over and, in a way, so is the summer. With Cotuit shortstop Adam Oviedo snagging a line drive and promptly stepping his foot on the second base bag with one out in the ninth inning, the Cape Cod Baseball League came to a close on Friday, August 9.

There were some highs, like Cotuit starter Sean Sullivan (California) pitching into the seventh inning and giving the home faithful a tip of the cap on his way back to the dugout for the final time at Lowell Park. There were also lows, like the Harbor Hawks christening their remodeled McKeon Field with a league-low nine wins.

There were memorable moments: take former Little League teammates Chris Holcomb and Cody Pasic starting for their hometown Cotuit this season, for example. And there were unforgettable feats. Harwich’s Niki Kavadas (Notre Dame) three-homer game on July 13 against Wareham comes to mind.

And that’s not to mention week-long rainouts, tornado delays and a record-number of double headers. The 2019 Cape League season offered locals fans—from tourists to baseball purists—something to smile about this summer. Now, for one final time in 2019, let’s go around the horn to see the best moment from each CCBL team this season.

Bourne Braves: It was day five amid an eight-day stretch of games for the Braves. Just having their home game against Yarmouth-Dennis on July 17 cut short to five innings due to rain was savory moment. But those that stuck out the rain at Doran Park that Wednesday evening witnessed history. Lefty Nick Dombkowski (Hartford) threw just the second perfect game in a Braves uniform. He struck out seven of the 15 batters he faced and 40 of his 56 pitches thrown went for strikes. Ironically, the only other perfect game thrown in a Bourne uniform also came in a shortened game. Mike McNully threw the first back in 2008. The Braves won the game, 6-0.

Brewster Whitecaps: Five days. Six wins. Thirty three percent of Brewster’s win total. The Whitecaps came out of the gates white hot, going unbeaten in seven of their first 10 games. That includes a stretch from June 15 to June 19 where Brewster won six straight games. Highlighting that run was a home double header sweep on July 16 against Hyannis. In two games, the Hawks combined to score 23 runs on 19 hits in just 14 total innings. Colin Davis (Wofford) was the star of the afternoon going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, two RBI, four walks, four runs scored and two stolen bases. It was just his second game of the season. His last game on the Cape came three days later.

Chatham Anglers: In their annual Fourth of July meeting with East Division rival Orleans, Chatham swept the home-and-home series with a pair of 8-7 wins against the Firebirds. After Orleans scored three runs in the top of the ninth to tie game at seven apiece on Wednesday, July 3, the Anglers did not leave the home crowd at Veterans Field disappointed for long. Hueston Morrill (Oklahoma State) walked and quickly worked his way around the bases before heading home on an error to give Chatham the walk-off win. Less than 24 hours later the Anglers withstood Orleans trying to give a comeback fireworks display in front of their home fans. The Firebirds fell a run shy of their six-run comeback between the eighth and ninth innings.

Cotuit Kettleers: Although Cotuit won the Cape League title, the team’s best moment of the year came a night earlier in game one of the CCBL finals against Harwich at Whitehouse Field. In the middle of a five-hour, 15-inning deadlock, league MVP Nick Gonzales (New Mexico St.) laced a single up the middle to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run that ended a marathon stalemate. Gonzales led the league in games played, hits, doubles, triples, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and runs scored. He was second in the league in batting average and RBI.

Falmouth Commodores: Some may look back and say they peaked too early, but it was certainly one hell of a peak. The Commodores won 11 straight games from July 15 to July 27. To put that in perspective that stretch is good for 25 percent of Falmouth’s regular season schedule. Those 11 wins came in a 13-day stretch. It was more wins than Hyannis totaled all year. The 11-game win streak not only was the longest in the league this season, but it was also the longest since 2002. It was the sixth best win streak in the modern era of the league and tied the 1967 Commodores for the longest streak in team history. During that run of wins, the Commodores outscored their opponents 43-18.

Harwich Mariners: Left-hander Jacob Palisch (Stanford) turned the clocks back with the old-school season he put together. Not only did Palisch finish the regular season with the lowest ERA on the Cape (0.77), but he had more complete-game shutouts than the nine other Cape League teams combined. In fact, his two complete-game shutouts were the most by any CCBL pitcher since 1989—or, better put, before this crop of players were even born. His season was anchored in a Mariners uniform by the seven-inning no-hitter he threw against Orleans on July 24. He struck out seven in the back end of a double header with the Firebirds, needing just 82 pitches to get the job done.

Hyannis Harbor Hawks: In a season where the wins could be counted on every finger with a thumb to spare, Hyannis’ most memorable moment may have come in their final home game of the season. Hosting Yarmouth-Dennis on July 30, Hawks starter Tommy McCollum (Wingate) gave up a hit to the second batter of the game and promptly sat down 17 of the next 19. Landon Kelly (Memphis) then worked three perfect innings as the two combined to one-hit the Red Sox to a 1-0 victory. Though Hyannis’ lone run was unearned, coming on an error by the Y-D first baseman, the Hawks earned the victory in what ultimately was the final win of the year.

Orleans Firebirds: Max Troiani (Bentley) wasn’t supposed to be anything more than a temp; a placeholder from a Division III school until someone better showed up. That person never arrived as the Pittsford, New York native parlayed a temp position with the Firebirds into an all-star game appearance to vying for the Cape League batting title on the final night of the regular season. Though he didn’t win the batting race, despite going 2-for-4 in the final game on August 3, Troini still hit a robust .345 for Orleans.

Wareham Gatemen: No one blazed a trail on the basepaths quite like Braiden Ward (Washington) did this season. His 27 stolen bases were eight more than the next closest player on the Cape. That number is the highest in the league since Andy Burns (Arizona) swiped 25 bags for Brewster in 2010. Ward stole at least one base in eight of his first 10 games with Wareham this season. He’s stolen a base in 20 games and had multiple stolen bases in five games. Ward was caught only five times or, better put, stole bases cleanly 84 percent of the time he tried.

Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox: For a manager who’s sent more than 100 players to the big leagues in his 22 seasons in South Yarmouth, June 20 was a game to remember for Scott Pickler. The Red Sox beat Orleans, 9-5, on the road in what was Pickler’s 500th career victory on the Cape. His Yarmouth-Dennis teams have won six CCBL titles and appeared in two more. Pickler will be one of the newest inductees to the Cape League Hall of Fame later this fall. He was already inducted to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this January for coaching prowess both on the Cape and at Cypress College, where he’s racked up nearly a thousand wins and five state championships.

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