06/02/2004 10:43 AM
for immediate release: 2 June, 2004
Gatemen set to return to Cape League pinnacle
After capturing the Cape League crown in 2001 and 2002, the Gatemen failed to make the playoffs last summer, finishing fourth in the five-team Western Division. In 2004, nothing would be finer than to return to the prominence they enjoyed at the beginning of the century. To get back to the top, though, Wareham will need to find a way to answer the losses of several gears to last year’s squad.
The Gatemen pitching staff will be without Vanderbilt star Jeremy Sowers in 2004. With a 4-3 mark and a 1.20 ERA, Sowers was selected to the All-League team last summer. The lefty became the first pitcher in 25 years to lead the league in innings pitched in consecutive seasons, he also tied for the league lead in complete games and finished fourth with 64 K’s. Also gone is Rice standout Wade Townsend. The hurler collected the Robert A. McNeece Award last year, given to the league’s top prospect. Townsend posted a 1.82 ERA, striking out 39 batters while walking just nine.
Miami (OH) University’s Keith Weiser might be one possible answer to those holes. The southpaw took the Mid-American Conference by storm in the spring, earning first team All-MAC honors while also taking home the MAC Freshman of the Year award. Weiser led the RedHawks with 8 victories on the season, striking out 63 batters in 83 2/3 innings of work. Also set to help the cause are Louisiana State’s Clay Dirks and North Carolina’s Daniel Bard. Dirks went 8-2 in the regular season for the Tigers, fanning a team-high 66 batters. Bard led the Tarheels with eight wins in the regular season, posting a 3.73 ERA.
With the bats, Wareham will look once again at Warner Jones to lead the offense. The third baseman was an All-League selection last summer, leading the team with a .344 clip. Jones’ 64 base hits were twelve more than anyone else had on The Cape. Despite Jones’ bat in the lineup, the Gatemen need to replace their biggest power source: Andy LaRoche. A shortstop, LaRoche hit six home runs last summer, tied for third in the league. He hit for average as well, posting a .326 average while driving in a team-high 18 runs.
Cooper Farris, 2001 Cape League Manager of the Year, returns as the field boss for his fourth season in Wareham in 2004.
Barry Zito and Lance Berkman highlight the long list of former Gatemen players currently playing Major League Baseball. Zito was the first round selection of the Oakland A’s after a two year stint with the Gatemen in 1997 and 1998. Berkman finished his Cape League career in 1996 and was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 1997 draft.
Wareham kicks off the 2004 season with a two-game homestand. The Gateman play host to Falmouth on June 17 and Bourne on June 18. -- T.J. Lasita, 2004 CCBL Intern, TJLasita@capecodbaseball.org
John Garner, Jr.