#TGW: Summer of Love
A final look at a productive summer from the Yellow Jackets in their various leagues
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Cape Cod Baseball League
Matt Gonzalez: Gonzalez hit in five of his final seven regular-season games, including a two-hit, four-RBI game on July 22 at Yarmouth-Dennis, and a two-RBI game in the season’s final weekend at Orleans. Gonzalez finished the regular season with a .278 batting average, four doubles (tied for fifth on the team), four homers (tied for second, one off the team lead) and 22 RBIs (second). His .405 slugging percentage ranked sixth on the club. In the first round of the playoffs, “Gonzo” came off the bench and delivered a pinch-single in the seventh inning of the Mariners’ 12-2 series-opening victory over Brewster. He was 0-for-4 with a run scored, as the Mariners closed out the series. The Mariners lead the semifinal series 1-0, having beaten Yarmouth-Dennis on Sunday.
A.J. Murray: Murray had a summer to remember with Chatham. He finished the season among C.C.B.L. leaders in batting average (.317, tied for 14th) in the league, third on the team), home runs (six, tied for second in the league and on the team), and RBIs (32, third, second on the team). He was named the Anglers' Most Outstanding Player, was a three-time league Player of the Week, the East MVP in the C.C.B.L.’s All-Star Game (he went 2-for-2, a single and a double, the East’s only multi-hit player in their 5-0 loss to the West), and winner of the League’s Manny Robello 10th Player Award, given to the player who has demonstrated dedication on and off the field. Former Yellow Jackets legend and six-time MLB All-Star Nomar Garciaparra won the award in 1993. Murray had a torrid stretch of four multi-hit games in five games to finish August and had 16 for the summer. He tied for the Anglers’ lead in hits (51) and led in runs (35). Defensively, he fielded at a .979 clip (seven errors in 330 chances).
Arden Pabst: The freshman catcher finished with a flourish, closing July with a summer-high three-game hitting streak, during which he batted .400 (4-for-10), and scored three runs. Pabst finished the season hitting .138, with a pair of RBIs, seven runs scored and a stolen base. Pabst was outstanding all summer long behind the plate, as he fielded .990, making but two errors in 201 chances in 27 games. He went hitless in his lone playoff game appearance, the opening game loss at Falmouth.
Harwich went 4-1 over the final week to finish 26-16-2 (54 points) and took home the East Division title by four points over Orleans. They won their first series over Brewster and are in the semifinals. Chatham lost five of six down the stretch, including three straight by shutout, and finished 17-26-1 (35 points), fifth in the East. They missed the playoffs by one point, getting edged out by Brewster. Hyannis finished 6-4-1, scoring at least seven runs in five of those games, to conclude the regular season at 19-24-1 (39 points), good for third place in the West, edging Cotuit (37 points). The Harbor Hawks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Falmouth.
Brandon Gold, 3B, Harrisonburg Turks
Ben Parr, LHP, Harrisonburg Turks
Tanner Shelton, LHP, Harrisonburg Turks
Thomas Smith, 1B, Harrisonburg Turks
Brandon Gold: The freshman third baseman played his final game of the summer on July 18 against Front Royal and went 1-for-3. He went 3-for-7 over his final two games to raise his average for the summer to .248 (25-for-101), with four doubles and 14 RBIs. On the mound, Gold did not have an ERA, as he threw six scoreless innings in his three stints, striking out six while walking one and allowing but two hits. He held opponents to a .100 average and a .143 OBP. Gold did not appear in the postseason.
Ben Parr: The freshman righty finished strong, throwing 5 1/3 shutout innings in his final start of the season on July 26 against Covington, in the Turks’ 2-0 win. He allowed four hits, striking out two and walking three. Parr finished the year with a 2-1 record and a 4.73 ERA. In 32 1/3 innings, he allowed 17 earned runs (19 total), and 31 hits, striking out 18 with 13 walks. He held opponents to a .264 batting average and a .331 on-base percentage. Parr also did not appear in the postseason.
Tanner Shelton: Like Parr, the hard-throwing freshman righty finished with a flourish. He earned his first win of the summer, shutting down New Market, on July 25, going a summer-high 7 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits, striking out three vs. four walks. Shelton didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and carried a two-hit shutout into the eighth. He finished the summer with a 1-0 record, a 4.15 ERA in 11 games (three starts), allowing 27 hits in 30 1/3 innings, striking out 21 while walking 23. He held opponents to a .233 batting average. Shelton did not make an appearance in the Playoffs.
Thomas Smith: Smith hit in nine of the Turks’ final 10 games, during which he hit .325 (13-for-40), including a run of four consecutive two-hit games. “Smitty” tied for the team lead with nine doubles, ranked second on the team with 17 walks, tied for second on the team with 27 runs, and was third with 45 hits. His .317 average was fifth on the team and his .385 on-base percentage ranked seventh. The playoffs weren’t really fun for Smith, as he batted .200 (2-for-10), with a run scored. It was a big run, however, as it came in the eighth inning of Game One and proved to be the winning run in Harrisonburg’s 3-1 victory.
The Turks roared home, winning 10 of their final 11 games and finished as the top seed in the Valley League Playoffs. But after winning the first game of their best-of-three series against Covington, they scored only three runs over the next 18 innings and lost the final two games, dropping the deciding game, 3-1. All three games were decided by two runs.
Coastal Plain League
Matthew Gorst, RHP, Asheboro Copperheads
Connor Justus, SS, Asheboro Copperheads
Matt Phillips, RHP, Asheboro Copperheads
Ben Schniederjans, RHP, Columbia Blowfish
Matthew Gorst: The freshman righty ended on something of a sour note, allowing five earned runs on six hits in 6.0 innings on July 30 vs. HP Thomasville. It was his second straight start allowing five earned runs. He hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his first five starts. Gorst finished 2-4, but the record was misleading, as he pitched to a 3.80 ERA (19 ER in 45.0 IP), with an outstanding 3:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (42 Ks vs. 14 BBs) and a.262 opponents batting average.
Connor Justus: The freshman shortstop finished strong, with four multi-hit games in his last six, batting .500 over that span (8-for-16). Even when Justus didn’t hit he found himself on base, drawing two walks in each of the games in which he didn’t get a hit. He finished the summer batting .227, with 28 hits, 20 runs, three doubles, a homer and six RBIs. He had a .384 on-base percentage, with seven sacrifices, including one that moved the game-winning run into scoring position on July 24 vs. Forest City. He was 5-for-9 in stolen base attempts. Defensively he fielded at .937, with 11 errors in 163 chances.
Matt Phillips: The freshman right-hander had a strong final start on July 24, going 7.0 innings against Forest City, allowing one run (earned) on six hits, striking out four while walking three. Typical of his luck all summer, however, Phillips would not figure in the decision despite leaving with a 3-1 lead. The Owls rallied to tie the game with two runs in the top of the eighth. The Copperheads would win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Phillips finished the summer 0-3 with a 4.05 ERA (12 ER in 26 2/3 innings), and a .288 opponents’ batting average.
Ben Schniederjans: The freshman righty ended a superb summer with a brief two-inning start on July 28. He allowed one hit and two walks, also uncorking two wild pitches, but pitched out of trouble both innings. Schniederjans, who finished 4-4 with a 2.77 ERA (15 earned runs in a team-high 48 2/3 innings) won four of his final five decisions and allowed three-or-fewer earned runs in eight of his nine starts (including his final start) and went at least six innings five times, held opponents to a .253 opponents batting average and had one of the team’s five complete games.
Asheboro went 3-4 down the stretch and finished 14-14 in the second half, fourth in the West. They did not qualify for postseason. Columbia, which finished the first half 9-19, in seventh place in the West, went from worst to tied for first in the second. The Blowfish won their final four games of the season and finished 17-11, tying Florence. But they lost the tiebreaker to the RedWolves and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Zac Ryan, RHP, Battle Creek Bombers
Zac Ryan: The freshman righty didn’t pitch after July 18, when he went 5.0 innings allowing five hits and four runs (all earned) in Battle Creek’s 9-1 loss at Wisconsin. He struck out four and walked one. Ryan struggled over his final two starts, allowing 12 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings (an 11.61 ERA). Those two appearances inflated Ryan’s stats, as he finished 2-2, with three saves in 11 games (four starts), but with a 6.13 ERA (20 ER in 29 1/3 IP), and a .351 opponents on-base percentage despite holding hitters to a .236 batting average.
The Bombers, wobbled home in the second half, going 1-4, allowing 43 runs in the four losses, and finishing 16-21 in the second half, ending up seventh, 10 games off the pace.
Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
Grant Wruble, C, Southern Ohio Copperheads
Grant Wruble: The junior catcher wrapped up his summer with a bang, going 3-for-3, with a run and an RBI on July 10, at Lima, in a 9-1 win over the Locos. It was Wruble’s first three-hit game of the summer and his fourth multi-hit game. Wruble hit in five of his final seven games, during which he hit .292 (7-for-24), and finished with a .281 average (sixth on the team), a .379 on-base percentage (fifth) and a .712 OPS (eighth). His nine RBIs were ninth on the Copperheads, while his eight walks tied for eighth.
The Copperheads had a dramatic finish, going 12-2 down the stretch and finishing second in the league, with a 23-16 record, 3 ½ games behind first-place Lima. They’d reached the GLSCL Championship series, but fell in two straight to the Licking County Settlers, who won their third straight postseason title.
Sunbelt Baseball League
Syd Hopkins, RHP, Prospect Braves
Kyle Leach, RHP, Gwinnett Tides
Ryan Peurifoy, OF, Home Plate Chukars
Joe Wiseman, RHP, Windward Braves
Syd Hopkins: Pitching for the Prospect Braves in the four-team Sunbelt Prospects Division, the freshman had an 0-1 record, but pitched to a Division-best 1.35 ERA (two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings) and held opponents to a .217 batting average (seventh). He allowed 10 hits. In his first two starts Hopkins pitched 10 innings allowing three runs (only one earned), but received three total runs of support. He took a loss in his final outing, on July 25, lasting a summer-low 1/3 of an inning, allowing one run on two hits.
Kyle Leach: The junior right-hander did not pitch after July 12, when he took the loss following a one-inning appearance during which he allowed three earned runs on two hits and two walks. Leach concluded the season 1-1, with a pair of saves. His ERA ended up at 9.00, primarily because of a pair of three-run appearances, while his opposing batting average was .320. The inflated numbers belie his effectiveness, as Leach struck out at least one hitter in six of his eight appearances and didn’t allow a run in five of his eight games and one run in another.
Ryan Peurifoy: The freshman outfielder slumped a little at the end, managing only one hit over his final four games — a 1-for-14 skid, but still had a tremendous summer. Peurifoy finished second on the Chukars in hits (23), RBIs (11), and doubles (5), was one of two Home Platers to homer, was fourth on the team in slugging percentage at .388 and was fifth with a .288 batting average. Defensively, Ryan fielded 1.000 and led the team with seven outfield assists.
Joe Wiseman: The sophomore righty reliever didn’t pitch after July 10, when he put up a scoreless eighth inning in the 1-0 loss to the Gwinnett Tides. Wiseman finished 0-2, with a 7.27 ERA, allowing 13 runs in 8 2/3 innings but only seven of the runs were earned. In addition, four of those runs came in one appearance. He had three scoreless appearances and three in which he allowed one run. Wiseman held opposing hitters to a .200 batting average.
Gwinnett finished 3-7 to end up 12-16, eight games off the pace in the East, but nine of those final 10 games were decided by three-or-fewer runs (the other was by four), with six of the games one-run affairs, (then went 3-3). Windward won five of its final seven games, but still came in 10 games back, fourth in the East, and two games back of the Tides at 10-18. Home Plate went 4-6, including a three-game stretch during which it was outscored 36-7, and ended its season in third in the West at 10-17, 6.0 games off the pace. They did manage to avoid the cellar, finishing a half-game ahead of the last-place East Cobb Patriots. Neither the Tides, Braves, nor Chukars qualified for postseason.
The Prospect Braves split their final six games to end 7-11, fourth in a tight four-team race in the Prospect League. The Braves finished 5 ½ games out of first, 3 ½ out of second and a half-game out of third.
California Collegiate League
Elliott Barzilli, IF, Los Angeles Brewers
Elliott Barzilli: The freshman infielder hit had a good summer at the plate, batting .319, with 23 hits, a pair of doubles, and a pair of triples. He scored 12 runs, drove in nine more, had on-base percentage of .364 and an OPS of .766. Barzilli also hit superbly in the clutch, batting .333 with runners in scoring position (9-for-27). Defensively, he fielded .923, with five errors in 60 chances, helping turn seven double plays.
The Brewers got red-hot as the summer closed, ending on a 10-game winning streak to finish 26-7. They won the South by a CCL-high 12.0 games then came out of the loser’s bracket in the playoffs, winning a pair of games on Aug. 2 than taking two more on Aug. 3 from Neptune Beach to win the League Championship.
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