Wareham searching to overcome early setbacks
By KENDRA BUTTERS
WAREHAM ---- Though Team USA and injuries have already claimed some of the 2010 Wareham Gatemen, manager Cooper Farris is eager for what the upcoming season has to offer.
“A lot of things kind of just fell apart,” he said. “We’re trying to piece it back together. But we’re excited for the guys we have coming back.”
Among the returnees is pitcher Jack Armstrong (Vanderbilt). Armstrong went 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA last summer. The 6-7 right-hander has a 4.19 ERA in 14 appearances with 48 strikeouts in 73 innings with the Commodores.
Farris hopes Matt Barnes (UConn) will be back on the Cape, although his return is questionable due to an invite from Team USA. Barnes has been impressive with the Huskies, posting an 8-2 mark and a 3.87 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings.
“I worry about starting pitching,” Farris said. “We’ll need people to step up. We have 14 or 15 arms, so hopefully we’ll find someone out of those guys.”
But Farris is looking for more than just starting pitchers.
“Last year we never really had that guy that we could throw up there to stop a losing streak or get the third game in a three-game winning streak,” he said. “You like to have a guy that you can throw out there and know you will get the win.”
George Swagerty (Arizona State) could be the answer. The Sun Devils have been utilizing him as a closer ---- and the 6-1 sophomore has proven himself worthy, with 14 saves complementing a 2.12 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. Though Swagerty only saw the mound six times last summer, he could be the player Farris needs to secure wins for the Gatemen.
Wareham will also see the return of Eric Pfisterer (Duke), although the 2009 Cape League All-Star did not put up all-star stats for the Blue Devils this season, struggling with a 6.54 ERA and only 56 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings.
Also returning to the mound is Max Pearlman (Harvard), who pitched for the Gatemen in 2008 but missed last summer after undergoing arm surgery. The right-hander eased his way back, throwing 15 innings for the Crimson.
Other arms looking to lift Wareham include Keith Bilodeau (Maine), Jed Bradley (Georgia Tech),Devin Burke (Duke), Jake Davies (Georgia Tech), David Fischer (UConn), Joe Flynn (Franklin Pierce) and Josh Urban (Texas).
Offense will also be a concern this summer.
“Hopefully, we’ll swing the bats a little better this summer,” Farris said. “All the position guys are swinging it pretty good for their college teams, so hopefully that will help out.”
Alex Dickerson (Indiana) has been on fire with the Hoosiers, leading the team with a .419 batting average, 24 home runs, and 75 RBI. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year and will enter the 2011 season with a 17-game hitting streak.
Robert Kral (College of Charleston) is another bat to watch after hitting .342 with 14 homers and 54 RBI for the Cougars.
Wareham will also be home to the sons of two former Major Leaguers in Tyler Bream (Liberty) andLee (LJ) Mazzilli, Jr. (UConn). The son of Sid Bream, Tyler is batting .357 with nine homers and 57 RBI. The son of Lee Mazzilli, LJ had a decent freshman year with the Huskies, batting .266 with 14 RBI.
The Gatemen welcome new pitching coach John Foster, who hurled for the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Foster spent last summer coaching with the Newport Gulls of the NECBL.
“Foster knows what needs to be done to get to the next level for these guys,” Farris said.