It’s been a strong start to the summer for New England’s best collegians playing in the region’s three summer collegiate leagues.
In the Cape Cod Baseball League, more than a dozen New England natives plus a handful of players at New England colleges are making a big impact — from a former temp player turned full-time contributor, to a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference left-handers dominating Cape hitters, to a host of local Bourne Braves.
Meanwhile, players across the New England Collegiate Baseball League and Futures Collegiate Baseball League also are making names for themselves this summer.
But we start on the Cape, where top local players are excelling alongside the nation’s best of the best right in our own backyard.
The June exploits of Orleans Firebirds outfielder Max Troiani (Bentley) made for one of the league’s best early-season stories, as the Pittsford, N.Y., native turned his temporary contract into a full stay in the easternmost baseball town on the Cape. Troiani remains the team’s top regular with a .314 average ― good for 12th in the league ― and 23 total bases in 20 games.
Orleans also has received four excellent starts from New Bedford, Mass., native and Wake Forest left-hander Jared Shuster. The former Tabor Academy star has allowed just seven hits and two runs while averaging a strikeout an inning through his first 18 innings of work. Three of his appearances have been scoreless, including five innings of one-hit ball last Friday against a Yarmouth-Dennis team that leads the league with a 14-7-1 record.
Speaking of Y-D, the Red Sox boast the league’s top strikeout pitcher in Virginia Tech and Westboro, Mass., southpaw Ian Seymour. Also a rising Atlantic Coast Conference junior, Seymour struck out nine in all three of his starts that lasted five innings, including Sunday when he held Orleans to just three hits. He has 32 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings for the summer.
Two native Cape Codders have found success in Cotuit. Maine catcher Cody Pasic (Cotuit, Mass.) has hit in six of his last 10 games, helping his .278 mark for the summer. Tulane left-hander Christopher Holcomb (Marstons Mills, Mass.) has a 1.63 ERA through 11 innings after pitching scoreless ball with four of his eight strikeouts as the primary Kettleer reliever on Independence Day against Falmouth.
The Bourne Braves are chock full of locals making an impact. Boston College second baseman Cody Morissette (Exeter, N.H.) has been on a tear and entered Monday’s game with a .283 average and nine RBI after hitting safely in eight of his last 10 games, including three multi-hit efforts. Fordham’s Jake Mackenzie (Wallingford, Conn.) also has been a regular on the infield, hitting .263 with a .391 on-base percentage and hits in four straight games.
UConn’s Karl Johnson (Fairfield, Conn.) has struck out 11 and not allowed a run in 10 innings of relief, helping to lead the bullpen for a staff that has surrendered just 76 earned runs through 21 games. The bullpen also features Rhode Island’s Tyler Brosius and Harvard’s Kieran Shaw, who have nine strikeouts apiece in a combined 14 innings. Wake Forest sophomore Ryan Cusick (Sudbury, Mass.) leads the Braves with 18 strikeouts in 19 innings, while Hartford ace Nick Dombkowski (West Springfield, Mass.) also has been a regular starter.
Though he doesn’t qualify for the league leaderboard, Holy Cross outfielder Austin Masel (Stoneham, Mass.) has been Falmouth’s top swinger. The rising senior who attended Belmont Hill has 12 hits in as many games, four of which came during a July 2 win over Brewster. Duke’s Thomas Girard (Simsbury, Conn.) has saved victories in two of his three outings for the Commodores.
In Harwich, UConn’s Kyler Fedko has played nearly every day for the Mariners as his .333 average tops the club and his eight runs scored and 27 total bases sit second. Jared Wetherbee (Fiskdale, Mass.) has followed up his sophomore year at Elon with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball for longtime Boston College and Northeastern assistant Steve Englert’s team.
Hyannis has brought Northeastern product Ian Fair back to the lineup within the past week, and the native of Walpole, Mass., hit safely in his first two July appearances. Fellow Husky Brandon Dufault (Hudson, N.H.) has helped Y-D to victories in five of his six outings, striking out six through four innings of work in early July. Bryant junior Tyler Mattison has been a bright spot on a struggling Harbor Hawks pitching staff, fanning 11 batters in 13 innings for the summer.
Berkshire boys in the NECBL
Trinity outfielder Matt Koperniak (Adams, Mass.) started the summer as a temporary player on the Cape, but he’s returned to his hometown New England Collegiate Baseball League team and not missed a beat.
Playing for North Adams, the rising senior and repeat All-NESCAC first-team selection ranks third in the summer circuit with a .423 average and co-leads the Northern Division’s top team in both doubles (six) and RBI (14). Koperniak hit .318 with 24 RBI for the same club a year ago.
In addition, Pittsfield, Mass., native Drew DeMartino is the second-leading run producer in the NECBL, having posted 23 RBI while hitting .379 for the Sanford Mainers. He enters this week coming off back-to-back games with a home run and three RBI apiece against Valley and Keene.
Mowing ’em down
The top four strikeout pitchers in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League hail from throughout New England’s collegiate ranks, with Jack Fox of the Westfield Starfires and Division 3 Emerson topping them all. The Los Angeles native has 48 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings, including a league season-high 13 in his June 20 complete game against Brockton.
Maine’s Nick Sinacola (North Attleboro, Mass.) leads the Brockton Rox with 45, including a pair of double-digit strikeout efforts, following his freshman collegiate season. He is the circuit’s top Division 1 pitcher in that category, ahead of Rhode Island’s Jon Morrison (Hadley, Mass.), who has 36 for Pittsfield.
Morrison is tied with another NEWMAC product in Springfield left-hander Shawn Babineau who is 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA for the Worcester Bravehearts. The Ashland, Mass., native is a league veteran, having pitched for the co-champion Martha’s Vineyard Sharks a year ago.
Tight at the top
As a new week begins and mid-July approaches, the standings in all three of New England’s leagues are tight. Weather hasn’t helped the matter as teams have played different amounts of games, but everything will even out as more games are made up in the coming weeks.
Chatham and Yarmouth-Dennis are tied atop the Cape’s East Division, which is separated by just nine points from first to last place. Wareham, Cotuit and Falmouth are separated by just two points in the West, but there is a nine-point gap between the Commodores and fourth-place Bourne.
In the NECBL, the North Adams SteepleCats and Mystic Schooners lead the North and South divisions, respectively, by a half-game. Upper Valley is just two games behind the North leader, while Danbury and Newport trail second-place Martha’s Vineyard in the South but stand two games out of the top spot.
In the FCBL, first through sixth places in the seven-team Futures League are separated by 3 1/2 games. Pittsfield has established itself at the top, but Brockton and North Shore are a game behind and open the week by playing each other Monday night. The FCBL plays a 56-game schedule and will be the first in New England to break for an All-Star Game, which takes place next Tuesday at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass.