08/13/2004 9:12 AM
13 August 2004
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
Cape League Intern Brian MacPherson
Good thing for Yarmouth-Dennis that Scott Pickler is a light sleeper.
In the middle of the night before Friday’s game, the Red Sox coach thought it might be a good idea to put Ryan Rohlinger in the cleanup position in the first game of the Cape Cod Baseball League championship series.
“I just had a feeling,” Pickler said. “I don’t really know. I just had a feeling.”
Never mind that the shortstop hadn’t hit fourth all season. In fact, with sluggers like Frank Curreri (UMass), Matt LaPorta (Florida) and Will Harris (Louisiana State) surrounding him, Rohlinger himself didn’t expect to see his name in a new location on the lineup card.
“I am a little surprised,” he said. “But Coach puts me where I am and I just have to do my best.”
The Oklahoma standout rewarded his coach’s attempt at clairvoyance with three hits, none bigger than his game-winning solo home run in the bottom of the eighth.
“You just dream about those situations,” he said. “It wasn’t the bottom of the ninth, but it was the bottom of the eighth and we came out and won.
“Not too many people can say they hit a home run in the championship series to win it like that.”
He hit .258 for the season with 15 runs batted in and 16 runs scored, batting primarily sixth or seventh.
And as the games got more important, so did Rohlinger’s play. He hit .300 in the final six games of the season, and he went 3 for 7 with two RBI in two division series games against Brewster.
But despite hitting six home runs for the Sooners this spring, he hadn’t cleared the fences for Yarmouth-Dennis – until Friday.
In his first at-bat of the game, though, he looked to have done just that. His blast hit the base of the left-field wall and scored Joe Anthonsen (Campbell) for the first run of the game.
When he came up in the eighth, though, he wasn’t looking to go deep.
“Some way to get on base for Frank,” he said. “I was just trying to get on. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run – I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”
He hit the ball hard, and with a stiff wind blowing out to left at Red Wilson Field, the ball carried well.
But Jacoby Ellsbury (Oregon State) nearly denied Rohlinger his moment of glory with what would have been one of the best defensive plays of the season. His leap at the fence missed by just inches.
“The way the left fielder was going after it, I thought he had a chance,” Rohlinger said. “I actually thought he caught it at first, but luckily it went over.”
The home run provided the margin of victory in the all-important first game of the league championship series, and the Red Sox can clinch the Cape Cod Baseball League title with a win on Saturday.
“I stepped up today, and hopefully somebody can step up tomorrow,” he said. - By Brian MacPherson, CCBL Intern, [email protected]
John Garner, Jr.