America's League

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Bourne Looks To Carry Success Into 2023

06/11/2023 4:00 AM

Article By: Andrew Fantucchio

A championship felt within reach when the Bourne Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the Brewster Whitecaps in the first inning of the 2022 Cape League title game. But, even after entering the postseason as the reigning President’s Trophy winners, Bourne’s championship path didn’t always appear so clear.

The Braves’ record hovered around five hundred at the all-star break. They were dealing with players leaving on a daily basis only to have new ones arrive over the bridge and take their places, each with their own aspirations for the summer. In his first year as the manager in Bourne, Scott Landers knew he needed the team to focus on a collective goal if they were going to start winning.

“The more you work as a team, the better off you are with your own individual tool set,” Landers said. “When a team succeeds, and you’re going well, you look a lot better as a player. Ultimately, you're competing for a championship. If it's not going good and you're trying to do individual stuff, in any team sport, it just doesn't work very well.”

Bourne began to tear through the league following the all-star break. In their final eight games, the Braves went undefeated and outscored their opponents by a margin of 29-14. Much of the team’s run to the title came on the back of league MVP Matt Shaw. But in the championship round, third baseman Bryce Eblin was the catalyst going five for eight at the plate with three runs scored in two games against Brewster.

“Bryce was here for us the whole time,” Landers said. “He went through his ups and downs, but I thought he played really well down the stretch. We put him in the leadoff spot, and some people may have thought we were crazy, but he came in with a good attitude every day.”

Eblin will be one of a few returners for Bourne this summer. He, along with shortstop Joshua Kuroda-Grauer and pitcher Matt Duffy will make up the veteran core for the Braves early on this season.

“The Cape is the place to be in the summer,” Kuroda-Grauer said. “Just to be around so many great ballplayers and pick their brains, especially in Bourne. We have a great coaching staff with Coach Landers at the head of it. They can really help me improve my game.”

Jarrod Saltalamacchia returns to the Braves for a second season as an assistant coach under Landers. Saltalamacchia played 17 seasons in the major leagues and was a member of the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, an experience that he likened to Bourne’s title run nearly a decade later.

“I love to win,” Saltalamacchia said. “It doesn't matter if it's in the big leagues or high school level. I just love winning. It teaches kids that if you work hard, you can attain anything. Being a part of that last year was so fun.”

Winning remains an objective for the Braves this season As they know from last year, that won’t come without its challenges. However, when all things are said and done come mid-August, Landers just hopes the kids who came to Bourne this summer leave as better players and better people.

“These guys have the physical tools, it's just more of navigating through, more or less, knowing baseball,” Landers said. “As coaches, we try to give them something that might be a weakness at this point and try to make it a strength for them. If they can understand how to navigate, you know, plans and what's their approach to play, or how are they dictating the bat when they're on the mound, the better off they're going to be.”