By Roy Reiss
August 1, 2012
As we head toward the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, here’s a few observations of what’s transpired up to this point, a very little insight, and some rambling thoughts from a very interested observer.
- There’s an interesting trend this year in the CCBL that affects all teams. Seems that the power baseball conferences like the SEC, Pac 12 and others are shutting down their pitching prospects in summer leagues. It happened to the Kettleers when Vandy’s Kevin Ziomek was shut down after hurling 28 and a third innings this summer. Bobby Wahl of Ole Miss, who was the Kettleers closer last year, was shut down with Team USA after 10 innings this summer. This has created opportunities for smaller school prospects to shine, players like Y-D’s Aaron Blair (Marshall) and Hyannis’ Sean Manaea (Indiana State). It also means that the overall pitching depth in summer leagues is being watered down, perhaps one of the reasons for the offensive explosion this summer. It looks like that’s where most of the pitching will have to come from in the future as coaches and GM’s will be scouring the smaller schools to uncover hurlers for 2013 and beyond.
- In line with this pitching trend is Coach Mike Roberts interesting method on how best to handle the number of innings pitched over the 44 games. For the first time in his coaching career, Roberts has gone to his bullpen real early rather than allowing his starter to get the team into the 6th or 7th inning. In fact of the team’s 37 games to date, only four times unofficially has the starter gone 6 plus innings. Most of the time Roberts will start the parade of relievers as early as the 3rd inning or in the 4th or 5th innings and utilize a multitude of his bullpen. Two positives emerge from this: 1. Everyone has an opportunity to pitch 2. Everyone should be fresh if used properly since they won’t throw many innings. You just might see more of this in future years if more and more college coaches around the country continue to shut down their young pitchers in summer leagues.
There are certain players you watch and something jumps out at you right away. For example Kyle Finnegan (Texas State) can really bring the heat with his fastball or Daniel Aldrich (College of Charleston) has the home run power. Then there’s Adam Nelubowich (Washington State) who you really need to watch daily to appreciate his many skills. The red shirt junior, who chose baseball over hockey when growing up in Canada, is as smooth as silk at the hot corner, making difficult plays look routine. His infield play has really solidified the Kettleers defense. He’s also hitting over .300 on the season for the Kettleers with many clutch hits to his credit. Nelubowich, a finance major in school, is just a steady, consistent performer who has started in 36 games to date. However, his biggest impact on the team may be his maturity and quiet leadership as the Kettleers have come together with great chemistry over the last half of the season. Watch him once and you may overlook these qualities, but watching him every day, you come to realize what he’s meant to the 2012 Cotuit team.
- Questions, questions, questions. With a playoff spot and home field locked up, do you rest your core players or play them in the final few games? Is there anyone more suited for their position with the CAA than the always smiling Ann Marie Tenaglia who serves as the social chairperson? Who do you think is the Kettleers MVP this season? When was the last time the Kettleers swept a season series from Y-D and Chatham in the same season?
- Imagine traveling from Alberta, Canada to Cape Cod, arriving during the day, going to Arnie Allen Diamond in Falmouth at night for your first CCBL game, and then watching your son hit a home run on the 2nd pitch of the game as part of his 3 hit night. That was the journey for Laura and Ralph Nelubowich and grandmother Jean Bartlett as they made the 7 hour trek to Cotuit to watch Adam play for the Kettleers. The Cotuit 3rd baseman told his grandmother the home run was special for her. What a thrill it must have been for them to see up close and in person!
- Home runs continue to be a hot topic around the CCBL as the 10 teams have slugged 324 round trippers thru August 1st games. All of last season, only 159 home runs were hit. For those who like percentages, that’s an increase of 104%. Most all of the coaches we’ve talked to feel it’s the new baseballs being used.
Old School, New School. That was the look this past Sunday as Coach Roberts and Y-D coach Scott Pickler filled out their lineup cards at Lowell Park. Roberts uses the old school hand written method while Pickler uses a computer program that his son Jeff developed 6 years ago and sells to NCAA schools. Of course if you have the computer print out and then have to make a last minute change, you revert to the old school method!
- Factoids that may interest only me. Cotuit is 8-0 in one run games which is the mark of a team that knows how to win, and finds ways to win. Ryan Connolly has now pitched in 21 of the 37 Cotuit games. The Kettleers are collectively 12-5 against the supposedly strong Eastern teams.
- The Deven Marrero watch. Thru 36 games the former Kettleers SS and #1 draft pick of the Red Sox is hitting .275 with the Lowell Spinners in Class A action. That’s the 2nd highest average on the team. Marrero has committed 9 errors in the field.
Kettleers Korner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.