08/12/2004 9:07 AM
12 August 2004
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
Cape League Intern Brian MacPherson
Pitcher Phil Bartleski (William and Mary) tossed 5 2/3 solid innings and right fielder Daniel Carte hit a three-run home run in the third inning to propel Falmouth to a 5-2 victory at Guv Fuller Field on Thursday.
One day removed from an excruciating extra-innings loss to Hyannis, the Commodores had to overcome a severe injury to Cliff Pennington and a late surge by Mets hitters to secure a berth in the Cape Cod Baseball League championship series.
“Yesterday was an emotional game,” said Falmouth coach Jeff Trundy. “Both teams went back and forth, and I think it’s a very, very tough thing to come back from. But I’ve had so much faith and confidence in this group of kids.”
The Commodores broke through in the bottom of the third inning. With Jacoby Ellsbury (Oregon State) at third and Matt Antonelli (Wake Forest) at second after a wild pitch, shortstop Cliff Pennington (Texas A&M) reached first base on an error. But when he hit the bag, his leg slipped awkwardly to the side and he immediately left the game with an ankle injury.
His status for the league championship series is uncertain.
“From a coach’s perspective, you know you lost a great player, at least for the time being,” Trundy said. “But more than that, Cliff loves to play the game, and there’s nobody who wants to be out there in this situation more than Cliff Pennington.”
But Carte provided Commodore fans with some solace when he skied a home run inside the left-field foul pole for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Falmouth lead.
“You can’t really expect home runs, but with Carte, you know something’s good when he comes up,” Ellsbury said.
Hyannis chipped away at the lead gradually. Bartleski, who allowed just six hits while striking out six in his 5 2/3 innings, allowed his only run when Shane Robinson (Florida State) singled and stole two bases before scoring on an infield hit by Jay Miller (Washington State).
Brian Bogusevic (Tulane) entered the game two batters later and slammed the door with a three-pitch strikeout. Bogusevic threw 2 1/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits with two strikeouts.
The Mets pushed across a run in the top of the eighth when Mike Baxter (Vanderbilt) singled and scored on a double by Mike Costanzo (Coastal Carolina). But the Commodores returned the favor when Kevin Roberts (Houston), in the game for the injured Pennington, beat out an infield single and came around to score on a ground ball by designated hitter Paul Christian (Brown).
“He’s a great player, and he’ll fill in nicely,” Carte said. “You’re not losing much with Kevin in the field.”
The second baseman wasn’t the only Commodore to flash the leather on Thursday. Ellsbury made several outstanding defensive plays in left field, including a diving catch in the fifth inning and a running catch against the wall in the seventh.
“Tonight, he had a chance to show a little bit of what he’s all about,” Trundy said. “Jacoby is just a great player and a great athlete, and when you have people like that able to play that kind of defense, that’s what turns the corner for you in a game.”
If Falmouth is to carry over the momentum from Thursday’s game, they’ll have to do so against a rested Yarmouth-Dennis team. The Red Sox defeated Brewster in two games, earning a day off in the process, and that extra day could prove pivotal in the series.
“Everybody’s tired at this point, all teams are tired,” Trundy said. “Kids are banged up, they’re bruised up and everything else. It comes down to, most of all, how much they enjoy one another and how much they want to stay here and keep playing hard.”
The Cape Cod Baseball League championship series will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth. - By Brian MacPherson, CCBL Intern, [email protected]
John Garner, Jr.