America's League

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United Braves Clinch No. 1 Seed in the West

Kyle Prudhomme Photo
07/30/2021 9:02 AM

Article By: Daniel Donabedian

For longtime Bourne Braves Manager, Harvey Shapiro, winning is nothing new. The Cape League Hall of Famer has the third most wins in league history, as well as a 2009 championship, under his belt.

Yet, even Shapiro was not expecting the nearly unprecedented level of success his Bourne Braves have achieved this regular season.

“It’s hard to win in this league,” Shapiro stated. “I never anticipated where we are right now.”

As of July 28th, Bourne holds an impressive 22-6-3 record. Despite losing back-to-back games for the first time all season on Tuesday, the Braves simultaneously clinched the No. 1 seed in the West following a Falmouth loss.

On their path to becoming West Division Regular Season Champions, the Braves remained unbeaten during their first 11 games and later went on an eight-game win streak in the middle of July.

These respective win streaks rank among the top five longest in Cape League history, and Bourne’s achievements can be attributed to a true team effort.

“Everyone’s contributed,” Shapiro said of his team’s winning ways. “The overall team is a talented group.”

With nine players chosen for the West Division All-Star Team, Bourne has the most All-Star selections in the league this year along with Harwich. According to Shapiro, this boon of talent allows for a different Brave to step up every game.

“One night a guy gets a big hit for us and another night it’s someone else,” he said.

Last Monday, it was Colby Thomas (Mercer University) providing a big hit for the Braves, as his walk-off home run propelled Bourne past Falmouth in a 9-8 victory. When asked about the Braves’ outstanding season, Thomas credited his team’s unity.

“No one on the team is selfish,” Thomas explained. “Everyone wants to do what’s best for the team, and not just themselves. And I think that’s why we have the best record so far.”

Another player who has supplied Bourne with plenty of offense is Joe Lampe (Arizona State University), whose .283 batting average is top 10 in the West Division.

“Our team has continued success because every guy wants to be here,” said Lampe. “We said in the beginning of the season that if we’re going to be here, we might as well win it all.”

This commitment to team is shared throughout the Braves’ lineup, and the numbers prove it.

All-Star Christian Knapczyk (University of Louisville) owns the Cape League’s second-best batting average (.333) and has 30 hits on the season. Fellow Louisville Cardinal and All-Star Dalton Rushing is hitting .298 with 6 HRs and 21 RBIs, ranking top 10 in each offensive category. Rounding out Bourne’s formidable hitting force is Nebraska’s Max Anderson, whose .296 batting average and 29 hits also earned him an All-Star selection.

Similarly to their lineup, Bourne boasts a star-studded pitching rotation.

All-Star Michael Sansone (Fairfield University) has a sub-1 ERA and leads the league in wins with a perfect 4-0 record. Just behind Sansone in wins is All-Star Austin Parsley (UNC Greensboro), who has recorded three wins on the season and 29 strikeouts. Additionally, Bourne’s dominant pitching staff features three other All-Star arms: Eric Adler (Wake Forest University), Trystan Vrieling (Gonzaga University), and Jake Bennett (Oklahoma University).

Like many other Braves, Bennett has enjoyed his team’s togetherness.

“[The team] has really meshed well together,” he said. “Everyone gets along great and it's been awesome to play for Bourne.”

“We’re a very, very close team,” Thomas agreed. “It feels like we’ve been playing together for a full season.”

With such harmony between pitching and hitting, it’s no coincidence that the Braves have the league’s best run differential (+48). And, as the top seed in the West Division, Bourne will aim to continue their unified success in the playoffs starting August 6th.

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