The players who pop up on Cape League rosters early in the season often have great stories. As teams scramble to fill gaps left by College World Series runs and Team USA invites, the fill-ins step up. They’re small-school guys looking for a chance, or kids from New England schools who were waiting by the phone. They’re young guys who might not have had a shot otherwise.
But of all those archetypes, my favorite might be the old friend.
The Cotuit Kettleers probably feel the same way.
You will not find Adam Whitt’s name on the Cotuit web site roster, but there he was on opening night, striking out all four batters he faced and getting a save in a 3-1 win. In other words, doing exactly what he did last year.
Whitt, a former walk-on at Nevada who found his niche as a side-arming closer, was the Swiss Army Knife of pitchers last summer. Sometimes he had long outings, sometimes he closed. Whatever he did, he was terrific, leading the league in ERA at 1.00 and appearances with 19. He shared the league’s top relief pitcher award with Y-D flamethrower Phil Bickford.
The junior built on his Cape League success by saving 14 games for the Wolf Pack this spring. He’s likely to get drafted, though it didn’t happen on the event’s first two days, through 10 rounds. A third day is on tap today.
But in the meantime, Whitt is a Kettleer again. Cotuit scored two runs in the seventh last night to break a 1-1 tie with Harwich. One inning later, Whitt was in to slam the door, getting four swinging strikeouts for his fifth career Cape League save.
The win went to Jack Anderson (Penn State), who also tossed 1.1 scoreless innings. Will Haynie’s (Alabama) two-run homer was the difference on the scoreboard.
For an old friend, it was a nice welcome back.
Hyannis 5, Falmouth 3
There was free baseball – or more free baseball than usual – in Falmouth, where visiting Hyannis won 5-3 in 11 innings. Kentucky stand-out JaVon Shelby opened his Cape League career by going 3-for-5 and scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th. He doubled and headed home on a sacrifice fly by Colby Bortles (Ole Miss). Returning Hawk Arden Pabst (Georgia Tech) – who didn’t have an extra-base hit in 28 games last summer – followed with an RBI double. Nolan Blackwood (Memphis), on for the final 3.2 innings, then slammed the door after getting the lead, picking up where he left off after saving 14 games with the Tigers. Pabst finished 3-for-5, while Nicholas Pappas (College of Charleston) had two RBI. Boomer White (Texas A&M) had three hits in his return to Falmouth.
Orleans 1, Bourne 0
Four Firebird pitchers combined on a one-hit shutout and the offense did just a little more damage as Orleans topped Bourne 1-0. Mitchell Jordan, who led Stetson with a 3.58 ERA this spring, started and went five innings with five strikeouts. Corbin Burnes (St. Mary’s), Kit Scheetz (Virginia Tech) and Sean Watkins (Loyola Marymount) then teamed up for four hitless innings. Jeremy Martinez (USC) had an RBI double in the seventh for all the offense Orleans needed. Bourne pitchers scattered seven hits. Babe Thomas (Winthrop) had the only hit for the Braves.
Chatham 5, Y-D 1
The Anglers got a strong start from potential ace T.J. Zeuch (Pittsburgh) and steadily pulled away from Y-D for a 5-1 win over the defending champs. Zeuch, a 6-foot-7 righty who struck out 90 this season, went 5.2 innings and allowed just an unearned run while striking out two. Three relievers finished the job without allowing a hit. Nate Mondou (Wake Forest) led the offense with three hits, while Trenton Brooks (Nevada) had two RBI. Aaron Knapp (California), the brother of former Angler Andrew Knapp, also knocked in a run.
Brewster 5, Wareham 4
The Gatemen rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth but saw Brewster break the deadlock in the next inning for the 5-4 win. Nick Senzel (Tennessee) knocked in the go-ahead run with a triple, part of a 2-for-4 night. Brandon Gold (Georgia Tech) added three hits and three RBI for the early league lead in both categories. College teammate Zac Ryan (Georgia Tech) earned the win with 3.2 scoreless innings of relief. Starter Anthony Arias (Fresno State) had an odd – but good – line, striking out 10 and not allowing a hit in 5.1 innings. Four walks and an error behind him accounted for the four runs and two earned runs he was charged with. For Wareham, Anthony Kay (Connecticut) returned off a huge season with the Huskies and gave up three runs in three innings.
What to Watch
Hyannis and Cotuit get their rivalry series off to an early start with a match-up at Lowell Field tonight. Returning Harbor Hawk Nick Deeg (Central Michigan) – a 6-foot-5 lefty – gets the ball for Hyannis.