Saturday in Summer College Ball; Chase for Nation’s No. 1 Spot Up For Grabs
Coastal Plain League’s Edenton Steamers and Cape Cod League’s
Hyannis Harbor Hawks have dominated Perfect Game CrossChecker’s
weekly ranking of the nation’s top summer college league clubs from
the outset of the 2011 season, but the final ranking will almost
certainly see a fresh face atop the heap.
had occupied the No. 1 position in each of the last five weeks and
needed to win only one of two playoff games at home Saturday against
the Gastonia Grizzlies to almost assuredly end up No. 1, but the
Steamers (49-14) were beaten twice by the upstart Grizzlies, 4-2 and
2-0, to fall in the CPL’s Petitt Cup championship series. Gastonia,
the No. 6 seed, won the best-of-3 final two games to one.
in the week, Hyannis was unexpectedly knocked out of the Cape Cod
League playoffs after easily posting the best overall record in the
league in the regular season and rising to No. 1 in the national
rankings in June and early July. The Harbor Hawks (30-17) had already
dropped to No. 4 in the latest PG CrossChecker rankings.
only did the Steamers chances of an unofficial national title
probably evaporate in an eventful series of games played around the
nation Saturday, but so too did the hopes of another top-ranked team,
the West Coast League’s two-time defending champion Wenatchee Apple
Sox, who fell to the surprising Walla Walla Sweets in two straight
games in the WCL semi-finals. No. 3 Wenatchee had dominated that
league from the outset, but by failing to win a playoff game it all
but killed its hopes of a No. 1 finish.
the Cape League’s Harwich Mariners and California Collegiate
League’s Santa Barbara Foresters both threw their hats in the ring
for a possible No. 1 finish by winning championships Saturday.
finished second in the Eastern Division standings during the regular
season, but caught fire in the Cape League’s eight-team playoff by
winning six of seven games. In the process, the No. 7-ranked Mariners
(29-20) captured three straight best-of-3 series and clinched their
second Cape title in four years by hanging on to beat Falmouth 7-5 to
win the league final in two straight games.
Barbara, ranked No. 5, made its case for No. 1 by breezing to its
third National Baseball Congress World Series title in six years
Saturday night in Wichita. The Foresters, co-champions in the Cal
Collegiate League, defeated the Alaska League’s 10th-ranked
Kenai Peninsula Oilers 1-0 in the championship game to complete an
undefeated run through the 32-team tournament. Both Kenai losses in
the double-elimination competition were to the Foresters.
developments are not only expected to contribute significantly to a
shakeup at the top of the PG CrossChecker rankings (the final ranking
will appear shortly after the Northwoods League concludes its season
on Friday or Saturday), but they could possibly raise the fortunes of
two other clubs with national-title aspirations, the No. 2-ranked
Bethesda Big Train of the Cal Ripken League and No. 6-ranked Quincy
Gems of the Prospect League.
season has been over for more than two weeks, but the Big Train
(36-9) made its case for No. 1 by breezing through the Cal Ripken
League regular season and winning its third straight league title
with an undefeated run through the league playoffs.
dominated the Prospect League throughout the 2011 season and won both
its playoff encounters in convincing style. The Gems (40-18) earned
their second league title in three years Thursday with a 6-0 win over
is unlikely that either the No. 8-ranked Alexandria Beetles of the
Northwoods League or No. 9-ranked Keene Swamp Bats of the New England
Collegiate League can muster enough support to make a run at No. 1,
but the Beetles (44-24, 28-10 in the second half) have been on a
late-season charge and enter the NWL playoffs, which begin Monday,
with the league’s best overall record, while the Swamp Bats (34-16)
made a case by winning the NECBL title on Wednesday.
CLOSER LOOK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
Stunned by Grizzlies
season long, the opportunistic Edenton Steamers found a way to win on
their way to posting an impressive 44-11 record, winning both
half-season titles in the Coastal Plain League’s North Division and
achieving a No. 1 national ranking.
seemed like destiny was in their corner in the playoffs, as well,
when the Steamers pulled out two improbable extra-inning wins against
Peninsula in the opening round of the league playoffs, and they were
victorious against Gastonia in the opening game of the best-of-3
championship series, Friday in Gastonia, winning 1-0 in 11 innings.
apparent national title was in their grasp as they returned home for
Games 2 and 3, needing just one win, but the Steamers dream season
came crashing down with a pair of close losses to Gastonia, which
struggled to qualify for post-season play with a 29-26 record overall
in the regular season and was stretched to the limit in all three
playoff series. Both games were played Saturday because of a
significant threat of rain in Edenton on Sunday.
by ineffective starting pitching and an inability to deliver a big
hit when it counted against a suddenly-stout Gastonia Grizzlies
pitching staff, the Steamers lost Game 2 by 4-2, and then dropped the
third game of the best-of-3 series later that night, 2-0.
had the best-hitting and highest-scoring team in the Coastal Plain
League all season, but managed only five hits in the first game and
three in the second. In Game 1, they scratched out just five hits.
the deciding contest, the Steamers struggled to get anything going
against 6-foot-6, 250-pound Gastonia lefthander Michael Heesch (USC
Beaufort), who went 8-0 this season and did not allow a run in 23
playoff innings covering three starts, and four Grizzlies relievers.
held the Steamers hitless until one out in the sixth, while Grizzlies
closer Derek Epps (Northwestern Oklahoma State) fanned the final two
Edenton hitters of the game, with runners on first and second, to
secure Gastonia's first Petitt Cup title.
just goes to show the best team doesn't always win in the playoffs,
the hottest team does," Edenton manager Dirk Kinney told the
local Daily Advance after his team’s disappointing finish.
“Gastonia played well and deserved to win. But we had a great
season, broke a lot of records, and, more important, they all got
better as players. That's what I'm going to remember.”
Gets On Timely Roll
Harwich Mariners could do no better than a second-place finish in the
Cape Cod League’s Eastern Division during the regular season, but
clearly were a different club with the 2011 season on the line.
Mariners surged through three rounds of playoffs, winning six of
seven games, and clinched their first Cape playoff title since 2008
with a 7-5 win over the surprising Falmouth Commodores, who upset the
Hyannis Harbor Hawks, the Cape’s best team, in the opening playoff
round, and unexpectedly made their way to the final after posting a
19-25 record during regular-season play. The Commodores were denied
their first Cape League crown in 31 years with the two-game sweep by
Jake Davies was ineffective in his role as a starter for Harwich,
giving up four runs in just 1-2/3 innings of work, but the Georgia
Tech two-way player remained in the game as a DH and delivered a
double in the seventh that scored Darnell Sweeney (Central Florida)
to break a 5-5 tie. Davies later scored on a wild pitch.
closer Chris Overman (North Carolina State) preserved his streak of
33 innings without allowing a run this summer, by pitching a
scoreless ninth to save the win. But it wasn’t without drama as
Falmouth loaded the bases with none out in the final inning on three
straight singles, before Overman worked out of the jam without
allowing a run. In all, Falmouth stranded 17 players in the game.
a great feeling, two unbelievable ball games," Harwich manager
Steve Englert told the local Cape Cod Times. “They wanted to win it
and everyone wanted to keep playing with each other. They didn't want
it to end.”
Walla Does 2-Step on Wenatchee
Wenatchee AppleSox won the West Coast League title the last two
seasons and dominated the league this season, while the Walla Walla
Sweets (26-28) posted a losing record during the regular season while
finishing 13 games behind the AppleSox.
the Sweets turned the table on the AppleSox, ranking No. 3 nationally
by PG CrossChecker, beating them in two straight games in their
best-of-3 Eastern Division playoff. They clinched the series with a
come-from-behind 5-4 win Saturday in Wenatchee. The Sweets will now
face either Bend or Corvallis, after Corvallis squared the Western
Division series at 1-1 with a 7-5 win.
AppleSox jumped to an early 4-0 lead against Walla Walls, only for
the Sweets to score two runs in the sixth inning and three more runs
in the eighth for the win. Righthander Owen Jones (Portland), who set
a WCL record with seven regular-season victories, was the loser for
BASEBALL CONGRESS WORLD SERIES
Barbara Wins Third Title in 6 Years
like they did in 2006 and 2008, the California Collegiate League’s
Santa Barbara Foresters won the National Baseball Congress World
Series by going undefeated in the 32-team, double elimination
Foresters, ranked fifth nationally by PG CrossChecker, won the 77th
annual NBC title Saturday with a hard-fought, 1-0 win over the Alaska
League’s Kenai Peninsula Oilers in a game that surprisingly turned
into a pitcher’s duel.
Kenai led the tournament in scoring with 54 runs in its previous six
games, and was also in the unenviable position of being very thin in
pitching after scheduled starter Gabriel Asakura (Cal State Los
Angeles) came down with an injury.
Barbara quickly scored the game’s lone run in the first inning on a
single by Brett Vertigan (UC Santa Barbara), a bunt hit by Jeff
McNeil (Cal State Long Beach) and a resulting error on the play by
Kenai pitcher Jordan Mills (St. Mary’s), and an infield out by Jeff
McVaney (Texas State), who led the Foresters in the tournament with a
.409 average and nine RBIs. But that was the extent of the scoring.
Oilers, ranked No. 10 nationally, kept the Foresters off balance
throughout by using eight different pitchers, each working one
inning. Mills was nicked for the one run, much of it his own doing as
he struggled to field a bunt up the first-base line, and absorbed the
loss the Oilers.
Mitch Mormann (Wichita State) pitched seven shutout innings for Santa
Barbara, before righthander Spencer Messmore (Cal State Bakersfield)
took over in the eighth with a man on and none out. Messmore retired
all six batters he faced, including the final two on called third
strikes, to preserve the win.
6-foot-6, 255-pound Mormann had already been named the outstanding
pro prospect in the NBC tournament for his dominating performance in
Santa Barbara’s third-round win earlier in the tournament, and his
championship-game performance was the culmination of a challenging
being forced to sit out last spring while in the process of
transferring from Louisiana State to Wichita State, Mormann started
slowly this summer for Santa Barbara. His velocity was initially in
the 88-90 mph range, but slowly crept up into the low-90s during the
summer before peaking at 96 mph in Wichita.
his impressive performance, the Detroit Tigers were expected to make
a serious run at trying to sign Moorman before Monday’s signing
deadline, depriving Wichita State from deriving any meaningful value
from him after he spent all of the 2011 season in the program on the
sidelines. Mormann was picked in the 25th round of this
long-time Foresters manager Bill Pintard was elated with his team’s
showing in the tournament, especially the tightly-contested final.
won big in this tournament, and we won small, like tonight, 1-0,”
Pintard told the Wichita Eagle. “We finished undefeated. It's