08/05/2004 8:36 AM
5 August 2004
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
Cape League Interns TJ Lasita and Brian MacPherson
Playoff Races Come Down to Final Week
With less than a week remaining in the Cape Cod Baseball League schedule, just one team is assured of a playoff spot and no team has been mathematically eliminated from postseason play.
The top two teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, which will begin on August 10. In the case of a tie between two teams for one postseason berth, those two teams will play each other on August 9 to determine which team will advance.
Barely more than a week ago, the East Division race seemed over. Brewster led the division on July 27 with a 21-13 record, Yarmouth-Dennis held steady in second place with a 19-15 record. Orleans looked hopelessly out of contention with a 14-20 record.
But a seven-game winning streak has pulled the Cardinals within two points of the playoffs and the chance to defend their league title. Bats that lay dormant all season suddenly came to life, and Orleans pitchers tossed consecutive shutouts against Wareham, Bourne and Chatham to begin the month of August.
Yarmouth-Dennis, despite suffering two losses at the hands of a surging Falmouth team, rebounded in time to clinch a tie for a playoff spot on Wednesday night with a win against Harwich. Brandon Morrow (California) struck out 10 batters in seven innings to lead the Red Sox to a crucial 1-0 victory.
One more win or tie – or one more Orleans loss or tie – will clinch a playoff spot for Yarmouth-Dennis.
Behind the pitching tandem of Josh Cribb (Clemson) and Matt Goyen (Georgia College), Brewster seemed to have a playoff spot all but wrapped up several weeks ago. But then the Whitecaps stumbled, losing five games in a row before righting the ship on Wednesday. Steven Tolleson (South Carolina) drove in the game-winning run in a 5-4 thriller against Hyannis.
Brewster leads Orleans by two points, and it has one extra game to play on Thursday. If the Whitecaps can win two of their final four games, they will clinch a tie for the final playoff spot, and if they win three of those games, they assure themselves of a postseason berth.
Out West, the last team in the Cape League to earn a victory was the first club to clinch a playoff birth. After starting the season 0-5, the Falmouth Commodores picked up the pieces and surged to the top of the West Division standings.
With a 12-3 victory against Wareham on Tuesday, the Commodores locked up their first playoff appearance since 1996. That win was Falmouth’s eighth in a row, not an uncommon trend for the league’s streakiest team. Jeff Trundy’s squad answered its five-game opening skid with a four-game winning streak. Then the Commodores took another five-game slide through All-Star week before embarking on the eight-game stretch that vaulted them into the Cape League playoffs.
Entering Thursday’s games, Falmouth had earned 47 points, eight points more than second-place Hyannis. Falmouth needs to win or tie one more game to clinch the West Division title.
While the Commodores’ position is practically certain, their opponent in the first round is still very much in the air. All four remaining teams in the West are still mathematically eligible to earn the final playoff spot, while three of those teams are all within a point of each other.
Hyannis is holding on tightly to second place with 39 points, but Wareham and Cotuit are well within striking distance with 38 and 37 points, respectively.
With four games remaining on the regular season slate, each of the three teams has a golden opportunity to jump out front. Wareham will make visits to Hyannis and Cotuit before the season ends, while Hyannis and Cotuit will close out the regular season on Sunday with a head-to-head match-up. By T.J. Lasita, [email protected] and By Brian MacPherson, [email protected]
John Garner, Jr.
CCBL Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting
(508) 790-0394 [email protected]
Bruce hack, League Historian