The Cape League “modern era” dates back 74 years. 28 times in that span, the defending champion repeated. It has been 17 years since the Gatemen accomplished that feat. The quest to keep the Arnold Mycock trophy in Wareham begins Friday.
The Gatemen have a target on their back. The Cotuit Kettleers have the first crack at Wareham. Game 1 is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. at Spillane Field, game 2 is Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Lowell Park, and game 3 if necessary, will be on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in Wareham.
The Gatemen and Kettleers have split the season series 3-3. These two teams first met June 19thin Cotuit. The Gatemen won 6-0, as Joseph Baran (East Stroudsburg), Brandon Pfaadt (Bellarmine), and Ben Leeper (Oklahoma State) combined to allow 4 hits while striking out 7.
The second time around the Kettleers got the best of the Gatemen winning 11-3 on June 29th. Will Fleming (Wake Forest) had a tough start posting a final line of 2.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO.
The biggest immediate threat to Wareham is Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State). Gonzales was recently named MVP of the Kettleers and he may possibly win the CCBL MVP as well. In the 11-3 victory Gonzales was 4-5 with 5 RBI and a walk. –
The next day, June 30th, Wareham answered back outdueling the Kettleers in a 1-0 pitching duel. The Gatemen used their best pitching combination. Ian Bedell (Missouri) was dominant finishing with a line of 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO. Trent Palmer (Jacksonville) was just as remarkable out of the bullpen, posting a line of 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 SO.
The two all-star hurlers have been a lethal Batman-Robin duo all season, and could prove vital to a deep 2019 postseason run for the Gatmen. Cotuit had another offensive explosion against the Gatemen defeating them 11-5 July 8th. Once again Fleming was on the mound and he struggled, finishing with a line of 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO.
Two-way player Casey Schmitt (San Diego State) stole the show going 3-5 with 5 RBI. Schmitt is an x-factor for the Kettleers providing good offense and stellar pitching. Schmitt is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA striking out 26 batters in 22 innings. Gonzales had a nice game as well going 1-4 with 2 RBI.
In game 5 of the season series on July 26th Cotuit defeated the Gatemen 6-1. Oraj Anu (Kentucky) was the star of this game going 2-3 with 3 RBI. Anu was a participant of the CCBL Home Run Derby, and he showed why in the 3rdinning, launching a 3-run moonshot into orbit. Schmitt earned the win, finishing with a sparkling line 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 S0.
The series finale went in favor of Wareham. On July 29ththe Gatemen defeated the Kettleers 7-2. Three pitchers who may see action in round 1 played well on the mound. Levi Prater (Oklahoma), Tanner Bibee (Cal State Fullerton), and Pfaaft each pitched 3 innings.
Pfaadt has arguably been the best pitcher for the Gatemen against the Kettleers. In the final game of the season series, the right-hander was lights out with a line of 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO. In his two appearances against the Kettleers, he has a combined line of 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO.
There are a number of Gatemen pitchers who could keep the Kettleers offense at bay, but they might have a tough time against Nick Gonzales. Against the Gatemen this season Gonzales is a remarkable 10-20 with 8 RBI. Gonzlaes is batting .351 with 7 HR and 33 RBI. Besides Gonzales, Cotuit has struggled to find offense against the Gatemen batting .240 against them this season.
Both these teams have high-powered offenses…but they manufacture runs in different ways. The Gatemen are hitting an eye-popping .375 against Cotuit this season. But Kettleers have hit four home runs against Wareham. The number of balls to leave the ballpark for the Gatemen in the six-game series: zero.
Luckily for Wareham, they were just mailed some new bats that have already made an impact. Trey Lipscomb (Tennessee) and Zack Mathis (LSU) recently joined the team and have provided some much-needed power. Mathis has already hit a home run, double, and triple in 7 games. Lipscomb made his debut against the Bourne Braves July 30thand went 2-3 with a RBI single including a monster home run into the left field bleachers.
There are 3 Gatemen position players that have had their way against the Kettleers. Ward has a hit in all 6 games against Cotuit going 7-23 with 5 RBI. Jacob Teter (Florida Southern) has reached base in all 6 games, and Mike Antico (St. Johns) is 5-18.
Other offensive players to pay attention to are Dallas Beaver (South Carolina), Matt McLain (UCLA), and Matt Rudick (San Diego State). Beaver has been one of the most consistent Gatemen batting .287 with 2 HR and 15 RBI. McLain is batting .278 with 2 HR and 22 RBI, and Rudick has burst on to the scene in July now batting .279 with 3 HR and 12 RBI.
Gonzales receives most of the attention but there are several standout offensive players on the Kettleers. Matthew Mervis (Duke), a two-way player like Schmitt, is batting .325 with 4 HR and 24 RBI. Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina) is batting .270 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. Lastly Anu has the power to hit a home run during any at bat already hitting 6 this season.
It would be a crime to not talk about what Bedell and Prater have accomplished on the mound. An argument can be made Bedell has been the best pitcher in the league. He is 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA striking out 36 batters in 30.2 innings of work only walking three. Prater is 2-1 with a 0.91 ERA in 19.2 innings striking out 21 batters. Trey Dillard (Missouri), Joe Rock (Ohio), Bibee, and of course Pfaadt will be relied upon out of the bullpen as well.
Cotuit has lost many of their best pitchers. Joseph Nahas (Georgia Southern) was called up to the MLB by the Chicago Cubs. Zachary McCambley had a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings and he is gone. Lastly, CCBL West Division All-Star, Reid Johnston played well in two games against the Gatemen this season has gone home as well.
Will the depleted pitching staff cost the Kettleers? Will the Gatemen offense get overpowered? Will Nick Gonzales steal the show? Are we in for another Ian Bedell lights out performance? All these questions might get answered on Friday in possibly the most anticipated first round matchup of the 2019 CCBL Playoffs.
Photo by: Kristin Ostrowski