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Cape League Flashback – 1990-94

Lou Merloni (Bourne Braves 1991 and the Cotuit Kettleers 1992)
10/04/2020 1:55 PM

Article By: Mike Richard

Hyannis captured its final Cape Cod League championship during the 1991 season while Cotuit advanced to the finals in 1992 before losing in two straight to Chatham.
During this era many future major leaguers graced the fields of both teams including Mark Belhorn, Damon Buford, Mike Matheny, Lou Merloni and Scott Spezio with Cotuit, while Hyannis boasted Doug Mirabelli, Jason Varitek, John Wasdin, Casey Blake and Matt Morris.

Cotuit (1990-94)
  Year    W-L        Place        Playoffs
1990    22-19-2    2nd       Lost in semifinals to Wareham, 2-0
1991    21-21-2    3rd        Did not qualify
1992    28-14-1    1st        Lost in Finals to Chatham, 2-0
1993    24-20       3rd       Did not qualify
1994    20-21-2    4th       Did not qualify

The Cotuit Kettleers were eliminated two straight by West champion Wareham in the first round of the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs this week. Cotuit lost the first game, 10-7 and then fell in the second game 6-5 despite two Ray Suplee homers and one by Mike Matheny. Sieve Cunha had one for Wareham. The Kettleers this season featured five future major leaguers, Mike Buddie, Damon Buford, Doug Creek, Kevin Jarvis and Matheny.

Cotuit won 16 of 18 to start the season before slipping to 5-6 down the stretch but still finished first in the Western Division with a team that featured six all-stars including batting champ Lou Merloni and league MVP Rick Ellstrom.
The semifinals opened with an outstanding pitcher’s duel between both team’s aces, Wareham’s Scott Brocail outlasted Cotuit’s John Kelley 1-0 as the Gatemen scored the game’s lone run with two out in the top of the ninth. Game two was suspended by thunder and lightning during the sixth inning of a 1-1 tie, with the game resumed the following morning and remained tied until the eleventh inning when Cotuit pitcher Tim Kubinski singled in two runs to win the game, 3-1. In the nightcap, the Kettleers erupted for a 9-4 win. Merloni went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Pat Clougherty had a three-run double and Greg Thomas also doubled in the win.
In the finals between the regular season winners, East Division titlists Chatham won the series opener 6-3. Then, the A’s completed its perfect postseason with a 3-2, 12-inning win to sweep the championship round. Playoff MVP and winning pitcher Steve Duda allowed just four hits over 11 innings. Brian Garrett drove home the game-winning run in the top of the 12th.

Hyannis (1990-94)
   Year    W-L        Place    Playoffs
1990    20-23-1    3rd      Did not qualify
1991    26-16-2    2nd     Won Cape League championship
1992    17-26        5th     Did not qualify
1993    25-19        2nd    Lost in semifinals to Wareham, 2-0
1994    21-21-1    3rd     Did not qualify

Led by future Major League players Rich Aurelia, Brent Gates, Andrew Lorraine, Matt Luke, Jason Varitek and Don Wengert, the Hyannis Mets captured the 1991 Cape Cod League championship.
The Mets concluded the regular season in second place behind Wareham in the Western Division, then came from a 0-1 deficit in games to sweep the final two games over the Gatemen in back-to-back shutouts. After dropping game one 5-4, Hyannis shutout Wareham in consecutive games, 3-0 and 10-0.
In the finals against Chatham, Juan Lianes’s pinch hit single drove home Brian Hartman in the last of the ninth for a 2-1 walk-off win. Hyannis then completed the sweep with a 5-2 win over Chatham for the title. It would be the last championship Hyannis would win to date.

On July 29, Matt Morris threw a no-hitter against Falmouth, 4-0, in a rain shortened six-inning game. It was the first Hyannis no-hitter since Pat Hope’s perfect game against Wareham on July 10, 1987. The Mets finished the regular season in second place to Wareham in the Western Division.
In the first round of the playoffs, Hyannis fell to Wareham in a pair of one-run games, 4-3 and 3-2. Just the same, the Mets were led that season by league MVP and catcher Jason Varitek. The Georgia Tech product, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins, hit .371 which was good enough to win the batting title by 14 points. He hit three homers and drove in 22 runs over 31 games.
In addition to Varitek, other future major leaguers on the team were Casey Blake, Mike Metcalfe and Morris.


Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at [email protected].