Summer College Leagues Roundup

On Tuesday night in the Cape Cod League, the league’s top two clubs faced off, as Eastern Division leading Harwich (13-8) knocked off Western Division leader Hyannis, 3-2, in a battle of midseason heavyweights.

Hyannis (14-7), which had reeled off five wins in its previous six games, sent Iowa sophomore southpaw Matt Dermody to the hill to face Harwich’s Tyler Jones, a sophomore from LSU. Both teams got on the board early, scoring one run apiece in the second. The Hawks crossed the plate first when right fielder Cal Towey, a sophomore out of Baylor, walked with the bases loaded. But the bats of third baseman Mike Garza (Georgetown) and left fielder Billy Burns (Mercer) evened the game up in a hurry for the M’s. With one out, Garza doubled after fouling off three two-strike pitches, and Burns singled him in moments later. 

Each team then squeaked an unearned run across, setting up a 2-2 tie heading into the seventh. In the top half of the inning, Harwich’s Chris Overman, a sophomore from N.C. State, hit the first two batters, giving the Hawks life. Overman, however, struck out the next two before inducing a groundout to avoid further trouble.

The Mariners took that momentum and ran with it, as Garza drew a leadoff walk. With one out, Missouri State catcher Luke Voit then drilled a double, bringing  Garza home from first base with the winning run. Lex Rutledge, a sophomore lefthander out of Samford, quieted the Hyannis sticks in the eighth and ninth, giving Harwich the win.

Overman, Garza, and Voit were three of the night’s biggest performers. Overman threw 2 1/3 innings in relief of Jones to collect his second win of the summer, striking out four without allowing a hit. In 10 2/3 innings of work, Overman has yet to allow a run. Garza went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and raised his batting average to .271. Voit, the game’s hero, was 2-for-3.

Despite the loss, Hyannis is still the talk of Cape Cod. A year after going 14-30 and finishing in last place, the Harbor Hawks have already matched last summer’s win total, tops among CCBL clubs. Their winning ways have been the result of a well-rounded game, as several of the Cape’s hitting and pitching leaders have keyed the turnaround.

Eric Stamets, an infielder from Evansville, got a pinch-hit single Tuesday night, extending his current hit streak to seven games. Stamets leads the Cape with 26 hits. Adam Brett Walker, a Baseball America second-team All-American this spring out of Jacksonville, is second on the Cape with three home runs. Dan Gulbransen, Walker’s college teammate, is second in walks with 15. Nick Wittgren (Purdue) and Dylan Floro (Cal State Fullerton) are co-wins leaders with three, and Floro also features a 1.31 ERA, good for fifth on the Cape.

Plenty of other players are off to good starts in the Cape, highlighted by Ryan Jones, a first-team all-Big Ten selection for Michigan State who leads the league with a .364 average. Also within reach of the batting title are Jason Coats, the Orioles 12th-round pick out of TCU; Taylor Davis, a catcher from Morehead State who hit .414 with 13 home runs this spring; Victor Roache, the nation’s home run leader out of Georgia Southern; and Andrew Toles, a freshman outfielder from Tennessee. Mason Katz, a sophomore out of LSU and last week’s player of the week, leads the league with eight doubles.

Roache, Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State), and Tanner Nivins (Stony Brook) share the league lead with four home runs each. Roache also leads the league in RBIs after a 3-for-3 performance last night that included a home run and three RBIs for Cotuit.

On the pitching side, LSU freshman Ryan Eades leads the league with a 0.45 ERA, having thrown 20 innings in four starts while striking out 16 with two wins. Andrew Heaney (Oklahoma State) leads the league in innings pitched with 28 after throwing six in a win over Wareham Tuesday night, followed closely by Georgia Southern’s Chris Beck, who sports a 1.33 ERA over 27 innings. Joe Bircher, a 6-foot-4 lefty from Bradley who has won pitcher of the week honors once already this summer, leads the Cape with 31 strikeouts over 23 innings. John Simms (Rice), Konner Wade (Arizona), and Trevor Gott (Kentucky) have five saves apiece.

The Coastal Plains league has also seen its fair share of eye-popping numbers, beginning with Columbia’s Zack Smith and Wilson’s Ryan Mathews. Smith, a freshman at Erksine College, leads the CPL in RBIs with 33 and is second in average (.388) and home runs (eight) through 32 games. Mathews, a redshirt junior out of N.C. State, has smashed a league-best 10 home runs with a .323 average.

But maybe the most impressive performance in the CPL has come from Peninsula’s Jake Cave. Cave is the first rising freshman to play in the league and has more than held his own thus far. An LSU signee who was also picked by the Yankees in the sixth round out of Kecoughtan (Va.) High, Cave has hit .347/.443/.520 with five stolen bases in 22 games for the Pilots.