Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beyond the Minors

After kicking back and catching some College World Series action on Saturday, I decided that for Father’s Day I wanted to take in some Cape Cod League double header action…unfortunately my 8-month old son wasn’t in the mood for two games, but he was a trooper in sticking it out for all seven innings of game 1!

On the recommendation of Boston Sports U18’s Joshua Kummins (@JoshuaKummins on Twitter) we chose Harwich as our destination on this perfect day of 75 degrees with barely a cloud in the sky.

Whitehouse Field is neatly tucked behind Harwich High School, surrounded by a fair thatch of forest that provides a pristine setting for some late Sunday afternoon baseball. The field itself was perfectly manicured and the facilities, from all accounts around the park, are as good as it gets in the league.

The Harwich Mariners took on the Falmouth Commodores in the twin-bill and game 1 was turning out to be quite the pitcher’s duel as Virginia Tech’s Joe Mantiply (Harwich) took on Babson’s Andrew Aizenstadt (Falmouth). Both were throwing their fastball with solid command in the high-80s from the get-go, and although neither seemed to mix in a ton of alternate pitches, they were able to get by with what they had.

The Mariners struck first in the second inning when Georgetown’s Mike Garza followed up Florida International’s Jabari Henry’s gap shot triple, with an RBI single up the box.

From there, things went scoreless until the 6th inning. Mantiply was taken out after five solid innings of work and when the hook came he had only allowed two hits and his team had a 1-0 lead, but he had walked a batter and given up a single to start the frame, which was enough for manager Steve Englert to look to the pen.

Reliever, and Virginia Tech teammate, Devin Burke could not stop the two inherited runners from scoring thanks to some A-plus small ball by the Commodores, who may have attempted more bunts in one game than I had ever seen. When you only have one win on the season, and are desperate, you resort to getting your runs the hard way if you have to. For Falmouth it worked.

After taking a 2-1 lead into the final frame, the Commodores kicked in the door and put up a 6 spot on the Mariners to insure their lead, which Harwich could not overcome in their final at-bats thanks to Aizenstadt who went the distance and only allowed 3 hits and 1 earned run.

The Commodores won their second game of the season 8-2, I won a poster in the 50/50 raffle and the decent sized crowd on hand won a great day of baseball.

A special shoutout to Joshua for the recommendation, as it was the perfect setting for my first Father’s Day with my son. Last year I spent Father’s Day in New Hampshire (another great setting) with my dad, watching the Fisher Cats on a scorching hot day (my son was there too, but he was resting comfortably inside his mom)…I could get used to days like this each year! And yes, I do owe my dad a trip to the ballpark once I return from the Cape…but not before I try to sneak in another game in Yarmouth-Dennis later this week.

There is so much more to the baseball of New England than just the Boston Red Sox, or the affiliated Minor League teams around the region. The Cape League is widely considered to be the best amateur summer league in the whole country, bringing in top notch college talent from all over the nation. Check out the Cape Cod Baseball League website for more information and try to fit in a game this summer, you won’t regret it.

And if you can’t make it to the Cape, here are some other options for great baseball in and around New England:

New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL)
Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL)
Can-Am League (independent league)
Atlantic League (independent league)

Here are some pics from the day's action (click on image for full size):

Falmouth shortstop Eric Garcia readies for the pitch.

Harwich second baseman Jacoby Jones at the plate.

Harwich starter Joe Mantiply delivers.

Falmouth's Andrew Aizenstadt going the distance.

Good looking crowd on hand...but I'm a bit biased with these two!


  1. This is really well done. Great work Craig

  2. Thanks's easy when you are having so much fun (I just have to find the time to put it all together between bottles and diapers).