By Dylan Wolter
July 24, 2015
HARWICH – The Cape Cod Baseball League is a tremendous opportunity for players to showcase their ability and perform in the best amateur baseball league in the world. With all its glamour and prestige, the league is competitive for the players and not everyone has instant success. Teams are not afraid to make tough decisions, getting rid of certain players for new ones. There’s nothing personal to it, just simply the business side of the league.
Saige Jenco (Virginia Tech) knows all too well what it’s like to be cut from a team to make room for another incoming player. Jenco was a member of the Harwich Mariners for 14 games, but struggled mightily with a .128 batting average. He was released from the team, not sure if he’d get another shot in the Cape. Fortunately for him, the Kettleers were lacking a ton of depth in both their infield and outfield so they took a shot on the versatile outfielder. Jenco was picked up by Cotuit just a couple days later and has found a solid fit here.
The Kettleers and Mike Roberts love the versatility he can bring to the club, able to play any of the outfield positions as well as some second base. Offensively, he can hit at the top or the bottom of the order and make things happen. He knows how to play small ball and has tremendous speed.
On Friday night, Jenco returned to the Mariners, but this time wearing a different jersey. Although he didn’t start the game, Jenco got his shot at redemption in the seventh inning. With no score, Roberts decided to pinch hit Jenco to lead off the inning and provide a spark off the bench. Jenco went down 0-2 in the at bat, but worked the pitcher until he hit a shot up the middle that bounced off the pitchers foot. It was a crucial single that started a rally for the Kettleers.
“I was just looking for a fastball, something I could handle that I could drive up the middle,” mentioned the Virginia Tech Hokie after he got down in the at bat. Jenco would come in to score the game winning run that inning, in the Kettleers 3-0 win over the Mariners. Jenco was thrilled to get the big hit, but even more satisfied because it came against his former club.
“It was a great experience and a great feeling,” admitted Jenco with as big of a smile as I’ve seen from him, “it was great to get a win, especially against Harwich.” It was a terrific moment for Jenco, getting a win against the team that let him go and having an instrumental role in the process. One can only hope the win will propel more victories for the Kettleers with the season dwindling down to its final days.
Spencer Gaa Moving Around: At the start of the season, Spencer Gaa (Bradley) was primarily a third baseman and a constant fixture in the Kettleers lineup. Gaa had his struggles fielding the hot corner, having committed the second highest errors on the team with seven. Still Gaa was needed in the lineup but moved around the field, getting some time at second base, right field, and some DH as well.
Against Harwich, Gaa was moved back to third base, a position he says he’s still comfortable with. “It felt right; playing second was a little out of my comfort zone. Being back at third, I definitely felt more comfortable there tonight,” remarked Gaa.
“I feel good about being able to switch guys around,” said Roberts on Gaa, “It wasn’t a problem for me to put his name at third base tonight, a month ago it was.” Gaa played well at third tonight, and he enjoyed hitting leadoff as well.
Gaa owns a very respectable .297 batting average and has a knack for finding open space to get hits. That ability is what made Roberts place Gaa in the leadoff spot, in which he went 1-5 on the day. Gaa was happy to hit leadoff, claiming, “You get more at bats and make stuff happen.”
Key Injuries: Branden Berry (Cal St Northridge) and Michael Paez both missed the game against Harwich due to their respective injuries. Both Paez and Berry are valuable cogs to the Kettleers lineup, making the injuries a potential cause for concern.
Berry missed his fourth straight game on Friday night, out with a head injury following a baseball going off his face in infield drills. Berry’s bat has really turned up of late and his presence in the lineup is certainly needed going forward. Mike Roberts shared some good news about Berry, claiming emphatically, “Berry is definitely better. I hope Berry will play Sunday.”
With Berry’s return looking imminent, Mike Paez’s is more in doubt. Paez, one of the most consistent all around players Cotuit has, hit a foul ball off his ankle yesterday and although he remained in the game, his ankle is sore. Paez’s starting spot in the all star game is in jeopardy with Roberts mentioning, “I don’t know if he can play in the game tomorrow. If he can’t play, he can’t play.”