There were only two games on the Cape Cod League slate last night, and both were tight affairs.
The star of the night was without a doubt Wareham’s Justin Amlung, a redshirt sophomore from Louisville who should be an interesting draft-and-follow this summer after being selected in the 39th round by the Reds. Amlung was 10-2, 2.31 this season, garnering first-team all-Big East recognition. The former walk-on who has blossomed into the Cardinals ace delivered his second gem of the young summer season, throwing six shutout innings against Orleans to stage a 3-0 win for the Gatemen.
Through 12 innings, Amlung has allowed just one earned run and three hits while striking out eight. Although his stuff isn’t overwhelming, as evidenced by his 80 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched this spring, Amlung has found ways to get hitters out.
The night’s other match-up, Hyannis vs. Falmouth, had more suspense. Hyannis won its league-leading fifth game of the season, thanks in part to a walk-off single from Harbor Hawk third baseman Richie Pedroza.
Pedroza, a sophomore out of Cal State Fullerton, has had a hit in all four of the contests he’s played in, and ripped two last night to make him 5-for-13 on the season. Sophomore first baseman Adam Brett Walker, a second team Baseball America All-American from Jacksonville, also went 2-for-4 on the night, while knocking in two runs. Walker hit .411/.486/.685 with 13 home runs this spring.
Sophomores Andrew Strenge (Cincinnati), Dietrich Enns (Eastern Michigan) and Nick Wittgren (Purdue) combined for four innings of no-run relief, keeping Hyannis within striking distance for their late rally.
Out west in the California Collegiate League, the Orange County Pioneers also walked-off with a wild 9-8 win over the San Luis Obispo Blues. After two groundouts to start the bottom of the ninth, Pioneer DH Zach Small, a redshirt sophomore from Johns Hopkins, fought off an 0-2 pitch and reached on a throwing error by the Blues’ third baseman.
The error proved costly, as the next two batters, Vince Gonzalez, a first baseman headed to UC Riverside, and Cal State Fullerton’s Chad Wallach, son of five-time all-star Tim Wallach, ripped a double and a single to give Orange County the W.
In other CCL action, the Santa Barbara Foresters were handed their first loss of the season last night, falling 4-2 to the Conejo Oaks. The Foresters, who now stand at 9-1 overall, have been led in the early going by a trio of junior California bats—Shane Kroker (Cal State Chico), Brett Vertigan (UC Santa Barbara), and Derek Legg (Cal State Fullerton). Through two weeks, Kroker leads the league in hitting with a .462 average, and Vertigan is tied for the league lead in home runs with two.
J.C. Aguayo, a senior from Northwestern Oklahoma State, kept the Forester bats in check, however, striking out 10 without allowing a run in eight innings.
Three arms in the MINK league one upped even Aguayo, throwing two no-hitters in the league’s first two weeks of action. Cody Cunningham, a freshman from Western Texas, threw one on June 2 for the St. Joseph Mustangs, and Omaha Diamond Spirit pitchers Brett Swain and Jake Alyward combined for another on June 7.
Alyward, who hails from Bellevue (Neb.) pitched three innings in relief behind a dominant effort by Swain, who has allowed just two hits in his first 13 innings pitched. Swain is a freshman from Ft. Scott (Kan.) CC.
Back in east in the NECBL, the Ivy League has been well represented so far. Columbia outfielder Dario Pizzano and Dartmouth southpaw Michael Johnson, both sophomores, nabbed player and pitcher of the week honors dating back to June 11 while helping the defending champion North Shore Navigators get off to a 4-3 start.
Pizzano, a two-time first-team all-Ivy selection who led the Lions in all three Triple Crown categories with a .359-9-36 line, was leading the league with a .421 average alongside four doubles and four walks before the Navigators walk-off win last night. Johnson worked primarily out of the bullpen for the Big Green this year but has had two solid starts for North Shore so far, including five innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball in their win over Newport on June 10. In 10 innings, he has allowed just one run while sitting down 11.