Thriller ends in tie
Some 8,000 see Cape team rally for draw
By ERIC MOSKOWITZ
CHATHAM - The Cape League All-Stars didn't beat the U.S. at its own game, but they didn't lose either.
In a dramatic showcase of the national pasttime, the national team took a 2-0 lead, but the Cape Leaguers scraped together runs in the seventh and eighth in a game ruled a 2-2 tie after 12 innings.
The Cape League threatened with runners in scoring position in both the 10th and 12th innings, but it simply ran out of pitchers. Cape coach Mike Coutts inserted his eighth and final pitcher, Taft Cable, in the 10th inning, and the game ended for lack of arms, announced to the crowd as "called due to roster limitations."
The 8,000-plus who turned out at Veterans Field didn't see a winner, but they certainly saw their share of excitement in Chatham last night.
"It was special," said Josh Persell of Brewster, who was named the Cape League's team MVP after going 2-for-3 and driving in both runs.
"I thought it was great, all the people up there on the hill," Persell said. "You couldn't ask for anything better."
The throngs packed behind the backstop and crammed 10-deep against the fences in foul territory. In the outfield, a thicket of fans covered the hill, a patchwork of brightly colored T-shirts, beach blankets and lawn chairs all but obscuring the grass. And the Cape Leaguers didn't disappoint.
"Not even a little bit," said USA coach Mike Gillespie about whether he expected to beat the Cape stars easily, despite his team's talent and 12-game winning streak.
Through the the first four innings, the two squads combined for just five hits while striking out 13 times. But the double shutout was erased in the fifth, when Team USA rallied for two runs off reliever Nick Glaser of Cotuit.
Glaser struck out the side, but not before allowing a two-out, bases-loaded single to Mark Teixeira, scoring Casey Myers and Chris Burke. Teixeira, who garnered top pro prospect honors in the Cape League last summer with Orleans, picked up where he left off on the Cape, going 2-for-5 with a walk and two RBIs.
The Cape All-Stars had difficulty catching up with Team USA starter Mark Prior, a second-year national team member. Prior led the Pac-10 in strikeouts with 150 this year and fanned the Cape Leaguers with similar ease, striking out nine in the first five innings. He pitched six innings, walking one and giving up just three hits.
But Gillespie brought in Dewon Brazelton in the seventh, and the Cape Leaguers capitalized. With one out and Kevin Youkilis on second, Brewster's Josh Persell worked to a full count. Persell, who has walked only 13 times this season, swung at ball four and drove it deep to left, where it bounced over the fence for an RBI ground-rule double.
Ryan Theriot of Wareham lashed a 2-2 pitch to left, and Persell rounded third but wisely held up when Chris Burke scooped up the ball and fired it in. Kirk Saarloos came in but quickly fell behind 3-1 on Brendan Harris. On the next pitch, Theriot took off for second; it was ball four, but USA catcher Ryan Budde instinctively fired down to second. Persell bolted for home, but second baseman Richard Lewis fired the ball back to the plate and nailed Persell, killing the rally.
Still, the Cape came back in the eighth to tie it. With Team USA leading 2-1, Kirk Saarloos got two quick outs before walking Doc Brooks. Youkilis pulled a 2-2 pitch past the dive of third baseman Mark Teixeira, putting runners on first and second, and Gillespie brought in Mike Gosling.
Gosling walked Ryan Barthelemy on four pitches before Zane Carlson came in to face Persell. Carlson fed Persell two balls before plunking him, bringing in the tying run. But Carlson, a rising sophomore at Baylor, got Paul O'Toole looking at strike three to get out of the bases-loaded jam.
The Cape All-Stars threatened twice in extra innings, with their best chance to score coming in the 10th. Doc Brooks led off with a liner that appeared to hit the chalk in left, and home plate umpire Jim McNally signalled it fair. But third base ump Derek Nelson overruled McNally, and Brooks returned to the plate. He walked and moved to second on Kevin Youkilis' sacrifice bunt before Ryan Barthelemy hit a check-swing grounder to first that moved Brooks to third with two outs. After Josh Persell walked, Paul O'Toole stepped to the plate.
O'Toole, who had fanned in his two previous at-bats, worked to a 2-2 count before throwing down his bat and heading to first on ball three, claiming it hit his foot. But McNally brought him back to the plate, and he responded by ripping the next offering from Carlson. As the remaining fans held their collective breath, second baseman Richard Lewis made a highlight-reel dive to kill the rally, stabbing the ball, spinning and firing to first ahead of O'Toole.
In the 12th, Youkilis hammered a double to center with two outs, missing a game-winning homer by a matter of feet. But Carlson got Barthelemy to fly out, ending the game.
NOTES: The 50-50 raffle collected an astounding $5,000, and the winning total of $2,500 went to Carolyn Youkilis of Cincinnati, Ohio, the mother of Bourne third baseman Kevin Youkilis. The winning ticket was called moments after Kevin scored the Cape's first run ... Chatham's Chris Young, slated to start but ultimately brought in in the second inning, was in command in front of the home crowd, striking out four in two innings of one-hit ball.