09/26/2007 3:45 PM
2007 Season Review
(15-29-0 – 5th in West)
WAREHAM, Mass. -- In the end, the Wareham Gatemen were unable to turn a stacked roster, a newly renovated field and 10 returnees from the Cape Cod Baseball League’s 2006 runner-up team into a run at the 2007 title.
The Gatemen stumbled early and could never manage to put the pieces together. Losing streaks of 10 games in June and eight in July kept the Gatemen out of contention and they finished with a 15-29 record.
Player losses proved fatal. Two big-name pitching prospects went to Team USA (Vanderbilt’s Mike Minor and Oklahoma State’s Jordy Mercer), a hitting giant signed with the New York Yankees (Texas’ Bradley Suttle) and a pair of catchers (Louisiana State’s Robert Lara and Clemson’s Buddy Munroe) left because of academic and personal issues.
Filling in many positions without even a recruited starter, much less a depth chart to compensate for injuries that continued to dog the roster all season, General Manager John Wylde stayed focused on his two major goals: developing young talent and fielding professional prospects.
Starting pitching was the team’s strength. The Gatemen finished with a 2.99 team ERA, third-best in the league, led the league in complete games (3), were second in the league in shutouts (5) and finished third in strikeouts (369). Big seasons from several players bolstered a roster that had lost one of the biggest prizes in amateur baseball in Minor.
A pair of Coca-Cola Pitchers of the Week, right-hander Wade Miley (Southeastern Louisiana) and southpaw Andy Oliver (Oklahoma State), headlined pitching coach Ryan Begg’s rotation. Oliver’s 1.41 ERA and 54 strikeouts were third in the league and he held opposing hitters to a miniscule .148 average. Miley finished fourth in strikeouts with 53, but his 1-6 record, a disappointment at face value, is indicative of what often plagued the Gatemen: a lack of run support and an inability to come through for pitchers when it mattered most.
Jeremy Bleich (Stanford) further endeared himself to Wareham fans, following his spectacular 2006 playoff performance with another strong year on the mound. His 4-2 record was the best on the staff and tied him for fourth in the league in wins. His best showing was a 3-0 win over Cotuit on July 15, a mesmerizing three-hit gem in which he struck out 11 Kettleers over eight innings.
The Gatemen also boasted one of the league’s best closers in Chris Hicks (Baylor). Hicks finished fourth in saves with eight, good for eighth on the Cape League’s all-time list. He had a near-untouchable week in mid-July, in which he gave up just one hit and struck out six in four closes.
With the league’s most anemic offense, fireworks at the plate were never Wareham’s bread and butter. But Josh Phegley (Indiana), Beemer Weams (Baylor) and Blake Dean (Stanford), all put up some respectable numbers. Phegley finished at .269 after a late-season slide. Weems led the team in hits, with 37 and hit .257 while Dean was the team’s run-producing engine, with a roster-best 15 RBI and four home runs to go with his .250 average.
Arizona’s Diallo Fon had a lights-out first half of the summer. He finished with a team-high .340 average in 47 at-bats before leaving in mid-July to return to school in Tempe.
Wareham’s on-field woes were temporarily set aside on July 28 when the 45th Cape League All-Star Game was held at Clem Spillane Field. Termed “a rousing success” by CCBL Commissioner Paul Galop, the game attracted several thousand appreciative fans and scores of big league scouts. It was shown on NESN two nights later in a time slot normally occupied by a Boston Red Sox game and was broadcast live on three local NPR radio stations, while also being streamed live on the Internet.
Due in part to Wareham’s impressive handling of the myriad details connected with staging the All-Star Game, the Gatemen organization was awarded the Commissioner’s Cup as 2007’s outstanding Cape League franchise.
Liz Hoffman, CCBL Intern ([email protected])