2016 Perfect Game/Rawlings Summer Collegiate Player of the Year: Bret Boswell
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The hardest thing to do in sports is win a championship. Even for a summer collegiate baseball team that is only together for a short time during the hottest months of the year, an immense amount of preparation and work goes towards finishing the season on top of their respective leagues.
To win a championship in the Cape Cod League, the most prestigious summer league in the country, is to see your team land on the pinnacle of the sport. The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League did just that this year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
For three straight summers Yarmouth-Dennis has ended the year as championships of the Cape, something that hasn’t been done in over 40 years. For obvious reasons, the Red Sox are the Perfect Game/Rawlings Summer Collegiate Team of the Year.
“I am so happy for the guys that we have come out here every year,” Steve Faucher, general manager of the team, said. “To win three straight, it means a lot to the community. Once everyone leaves at the end of the summer, the community to still shares the championship with each other. To win three in a row, it’s an impossibility, but it happened. The Y-D Red Sox are always in contention, we always want to win.”
Yarmouth-Dennis was the epitome of consistency throughout the entire year. The Red Sox had nine hitters in their lineup with over 70 at-bats that hit .250 or better, and none were better than Kevin Smith, the silky smooth shortstop from Maryland.
Smith hit .301 and had 43 hits to lead the team in that category. He also was arguably the best player in the lineup during the team’s playoff run, knocking in seven runs in seven games.
“Kevin played at that same [high] level the whole year, it didn’t matter if it was the first, 25th, or 40th game, he came to the yard the same every day,” Yarmouth-Dennis head coach Scott Pickler said. “He was probably the hardest worker on the team. He came early to hit every day. He has a great work ethic; he’s got that ticker in him that you can’t teach.”
Will Toffey of Vanderbilt and J.J. Muno of UC Santa Barbara were also stalwarts in the Red Sox lineup this summer, hitting .283 and .304, respectively.
As much as the Yarmouth-Dennis lineup could beat up an opposing pitching staff, the Red Sox staff was even less friendly to opposing lineups.
The starting staff had four players that threw over 26 innings on the year and posted sub-2.00 ERAs. Oliver Jaskie (Michigan) appeared in six games and started five, allowing three earned runs in 27 1/3 innings for an ERA of 0.99, tops on the staff. Will Gaddis (Furman) was another dominant piece of the starting staff, allowing only four earned runs in 26 1/3 innings. William Montgomerie (UConn) was the third of four starters to post an ERA under 2.00, allowing only five earned runs in 26 1/3 innings.
The fourth and final member of the foursome was Bryan Sammons (Western Carolina), and he wasn’t even supposed to spend his entire summer on the Cape.
Sammons was a temporary sign for Yarmouth-Dennis, and he was originally going to be used strictly as a lefty out of the bullpen. But when he was called upon to make a spot start, he made the most of it — and didn’t leave the rotation the rest of the summer. Sammons ended up eating the most innings on the team, throwing 29 1/3 with a 1.53 ERA. He struck out 23 while only walking eight.
“[Sammons] came to us as a reliever in the beginning,” assistant coach Alon Leichman said. “At school he was a starter. It got to the point when we needed a lefty to start, so we gave him the ball, and he rolled with it. At one point during the year, I asked him what was working for him, and he said just throwing strikes and attacking with strikes. That was something I was really happy to hear, because I talk about keeping things simple.”
After finishing the regular season at 26-17-1, the Red Sox went on a tear in the playoffs, winning their first four games to sweep their way into the championship series against Falmouth, where they dropped their first game before winning the final two to take the title.
Summer league baseball is unlike NCAA baseball in a very obvious way, with teams completely dispersing each August and organizations having to start anew each fall to try to reconstruct their rosters. That is why Yarmouth-Dennis winning its third-straight championship is so impressive; they haven’t had a group of five or six guys with them the past three years, it’s been a new group that has bought into winning a championship each season.
That is what it boils down to, according to both Pickler and Faucher. If you get guys to buy in and play together, you have a chance to win some ball games.
“There really isn’t any magic formula or anything,” Faucher said. “[Coach] Pickler does a great job of recruiting. We don’t bring back many guys, maybe one or two. We’ve got a job to do each year, and that’s to bring the best players in and showcase them to scouts.”
Pickler said the thing that made this team special was their willingness to come to the field ready to play every single day, whether it was raining or 100 degrees outside.
“I pride myself on the fact that they come out and compete on a nightly basis. They aren’t playing a midweek, then Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They’re going out and playing six or seven days in a row,” he said.
Everything the team had been working for came to fruition during the deciding game three of the championship series, and it was the usual suspects doing the damage in the title game.
Smith added his seventh RBI of the playoffs, Sammons went six innings of two-hit ball, and Montgomorie and Calvin Faucher (UC Irvine) combined to throw three hitless innings and together struck out seven Falmouth hitters.
“It’s a thrill for me to work with kids at this level,” Pickler said. “The biggest thing about three straight, it goes to the people of Yarmouth that bring the kids in and raise money the 10 months out of the year we aren’t there. The three-peat is for the city more so than the team. It’s something that every town works hard on and we all want to win, and we’ve been fortunate enough to do it.”
The honor for Yarmouth-Dennis as Perfect Game’s Summer Collegiate Team of the Year is their third, having claimed the inaugural award in 2006 and again in 2007.
2016 Perfect Game/Rawlings Summer Collegiate Team of the Year Finalists:
• Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (Northwoods)
• Santa Barbara Foresters (California)
• Mystic Schooners (New England)
• Brazos Valley Bombers (Texas)
• Amsterdam Mohawks (Perfect Game)
Previous Perfect Game/Rawlings Summer Collegiate Teams of the Year:
2006: Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Cape Cod)
2007: Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Cape Cod)
2008: Santa Barbara Foresters (California)
2009: Forest City Owls (Coastal Plain)
2010: Eau Claire Express (Northwoods)
2011: Bethesda Big Train (Cal Ripken)
2012: Newport Gulls (New England)
2013: Brazos Valley Bombers (Texas)
2014: Lakeshore Chinooks (Northwoods)
2015: Edenton Steamers (Coastal Plain)