Cal Ripken League’s Final Weeks of Dispute for the 4 Top Seeds
The Cal Ripken League is engaged in a 3 team race to the finish, and a two team battle for the 4 th seed spot in the leagues championship tournament that starts on July 28 th. Of course anything can change from here to then, but as of right now, the field looks as follows:
The Youse’s Orioles have a 2 game lead on the 1st seed position.
Based in Baltimore Maryland, the Orioles offense is being led by second baseman Blair Patrick. Currently on a 9 game hitting streak, (Orioles are on a 9 game winning streak) Patrick is leading the team with a .372 batting average. Without displaying any signs of power or blazing speed, Patrick is constantly getting on base and doing it from the 2nd slot in the lineup. Blair Patrick-2010 freshman at Wake Forest: .270, 40R, 60H, 7HR, 25RBI, 11SB, .351/.437
If you’re looking to know who the main run producer on the team is, the answer is plainly Benjamin Carhart. Carhart has turned in a team leading 24 RBI,s, and scored 20 runs. He’s also leading the team with 10 doubles and is truly the strongest piston on the team. The third baseman is hitting .321 and hits right behind Blair in the lineup. In his last two games combined, Carhart went 4 for 9, with a pair of RBI’s, and a triple. Benjamin Carhat-2010 sophomore at Palm Beach CC: .473, 56R, 89H, 11HR, 67RBI, .522/N/A
The Orioles pitching staff is holding on to a team ERA of 2.39 which ranks 2 nd in the league. Blake Geiger has been exceptional source of stability as a starter. In 6 starts, he’s went for 36 innings with a record of 3-1, 0.25, with 36 strikeouts. Geiger’s latest start on July 18th he had the best outing of the summer. It came against the Alexandria Aces, Geiger went for 7 innings, scattered 5 hits, 1 run, and struck out 14. That run was the first one he’s allowed in his 6 appearances this summer. Blake Geiger-2010 freshman at Richmond University : Did Not Play
Showing much improvement since a shaky 3 starts is Christopher O Grady. Suddenly on June 23rd against Baltimore Redbirds, O Grady stopped leaking runs and started to shut down batters. Even though O Grady and the Orioles lost that game 2-0, O Grady went for 5 innings giving up no runs of his own, and only scattered 3 hits. After that, in his latest 3 starts, O Grady has pitched 20 innings, giving up 1 earned run, 13 hits, and recorded 2 more personal victories while the team posted 3 victories. Despite not being a power pitcher with massive amounts of strikeouts (27K), he’s amassed 42.1 innings with an ERA of 1.49. Christopher O Grady-2010 (RS) sophomore at George Mason University: 4.06, 3-1, 62innings, 47K, .260 AVG
Bethesda Big Train is only 2 games behind the Orioles, and currently has a game and a half lead for the 2nd seed in leagues championship.
Offensively, the Big Train is tied with the Orioles for the leagues top team hitting, and have scored 9 more runs than their rivals. With only 2 games separating the two teams, it’s clear that anything can happen in the last couple weeks of the summer. One of the instrumental hitters for the Big Train is corner infielder Austin Harclerode. Leading the team with 21 RBI’s, and with the highest batting average (.321) amongst those having played in at least 20 games, Harclerode has gone 5 for 7, with 3 runs, and 2 RBI’s in the two latest and crucial team victories. Hitting in an odd sixth spot, Harclerode is providing the Big Train with much needed production and solidifying the bottom part of the lineup becoming the leagues Player of the Week early in July. Austin Harclerode-2010 junior at Towson University: .295, 41R, 62H, 5HR, 36RBI, 9SB, .393/.433
Another source of coal fuel for the big train has been second baseman Danny Steinstra. He has scored 22 runs hitting on the 3rd slot in the lineup. The Big Train would like more run production from that position, but with a .308 batting average, and a team leading 40 hits, the Big Train has been able to stay in contention the entire summer. Steinstra is demonstrating some strong pitch recognition with an impressively low strikeout rate (8). His plate discipline not his hitting was the key to Big Train’s two latest victories. In those games, Steinstra only reached on base once with a hit. But, his 3 walks ultimately had him scoring 3 runs in a couple of tight games against the Nationals and the T-Bolts. Danny Steinstra-2010 senior at San Jose State: .265, 14R, 27H, 2HR, 13RBI, .330/.373
On the topic of pitching, the Big Train is ranked 3rd in the league with an ERA of .292. A strong element of pitching nowadays relies heavily on relief pitchers. When your aces stagger or lose control of a game, the signal to the bullpen is like a 911 call to the paramedics. The Big Train has made that call to Bryan Hamilton 16 times this summer. So far this summer, Hamilton has come to the rescue and saved 5 games. That number says nothing of the story behind Hamilton’s 20 innings of work in which he’s only allowed 7 hits and absolutely no runs. Hamilton has also being doing things with power, he’s struck out 30 batters and has only given up 8 walks, and in his last 7 innings of labor, he’s struck out 11 while scattering only 2 hits. Bryan Hamilton-2010 sophomore at Charlotte University: 2.01, 4-0, 31.1innings, 40K, .218 AVG (2SV)
The workhorse behind the Big Train locomotive is pitcher Cameron Love. As a whole, he’s soaked up 41 innings of quality baseball in 7 starts that included a recent complete game shutout against the Rockville Express. Love is another pitcher that is dominating his strikeout to walk ration (25/7) and even though he’s not a power pitcher, and opposing batters are hitting .300 against him, Love helps keep his team close in every game with an ERA of .3.07 and has a record of 4-2. Cameron Love-2010 sophomore at San Francisco University : 7.36, 0-3, 33innings, 21K, .331 AVG
Baltimore Redbirds are still within reach of both Bethesda and Youse. Only 3.5 games behind the leader and their current control of the 3rd seed are rather safe from the Herndon Braves who are 4.5 games away in the 4th spot.
Without a doubt, the Redbirds are a team being led by Mark Rhine. With a .322 batting average, he’s been a constant force both at the top and at the bottom of the lineup. Leading the team with 38 hits, his 18 runs scored has compensated for the lack of power this summer. Rhine has hit in 8 of his last 10 games, including 3 multi hit showings where the Redbirds had a stretch of 5 consecutive wins. Recently, the Redbirds lost 4 in a row and dropped from their 1st place lead. Mark Rhine-2010 freshman at Wake Forest University: .279, 19R, 42H, 1HR, 25RBI, 5SB, .321/.364
Up to this point, Ben Winter has been the main run producer on the team with 21RBI’s. In July 11th double header against the Herndon Braves, Winter drove in 8 runs on 3 hits and was helping the Redbirds to a stellar first place position. After that, Winter has slumped, and has only driven in 1 run in the last 6 games. It’s no coincidence that Winters’s recent slump attributed to the Redbirds dropping 4 out of the last 6. Winter has the most at bats on the team with 131, and his 34 hits have only secured him a .260 batting average. Winter is currently playing centerfield and is the Redbirds leadoff hitter. If the Redbirds want to beat the Orioles, it’s no secret that Ben Winters needs to get back on track. Ben Winter-2010 sophomore at Towson University: .343, 55R, 79H, 3HR, 25RBI, .420/.513
The Redbirds have the best team pitching in the league with an ERA of 2.35, and no team in the league has kept opposing hitters to a lower batting average .210. That success is never tacked to just one pitcher, but it’s clear that Tyler Austin has been a big predatory Redbird this summer. His only loss this summer came back on June 12th. Austin struggled in 4.2 innings where he gave up 5 hits and 5 earned runs. He struggled again in a following outing where he went for 5 innings and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits despite strikeout 9 batters. Other than that, Austin has built up 41.2 innings of hard work, with an ERA of 2.16 and 41 strikeouts. Austin has won 4 of his 7 starts by only giving up 1 run in 25 innings. Tyler Austin-2010 sophomore at Towson University: 8.74, 2-5, 56.2innings, 57K, .345 AVG
The setup role for a pitcher is sometimes not given the same attention as starters and closing relievers. But, the Redbirds are very aware of Steve Visnic. Going into the final weeks of pennant racing, Visnic has played a crucial role in the survival and non-extinction of the Redbirds in the Cal Ripken League. Ten appearances and 22.1 innings of work have landed Visnic with a record of 4-1, 0.81, and 7 strikeouts. His outings are not raw display of powers, but hitters have been baffled nonetheless and have only hit .181 against him. In 6 clutch situation against the two teams that are ahead of them in the standings, Visnic has performed well and recorded 2 of his 4 summer wins. Steve Visnic-2010 sophomore at Temple University: 6.28, 1-0, 38.2innings, 17K, .308 AVG
The 4th Seed Dispute:
The Braves are being led by an outfielder named Johnny Bladel. The teams top run producer (22RBI’s), Bladel also has scored 21 runs, and has 39 hits after a team leading 124 at bats. He has had 5 multi RBI games, and as he settled into the 3 spot in the lineup, Bladel has sped past pitchers with 29 stolen bases. In total, Bladel has 9 games where he has stolen at least 2 bases, including one game where he stole 3. At this point, Bladel has a batting line of .315/.385/.435. Johnny Blade-2010 sophomore at James Madison University: .324, 43R, 58H, 1HR, 33RBI, 10SB, .427/.447
Even though Nick Kime leads the team with a batting average of .347, Jeremy Maas has magically been on base at the right time 7 times more that Kime. Mass has scored 24 runs this summer at the Braves leadoff hither, his team leading 46 hits make Maas a solid carbon fiber plaster at the top of the lineup. Currently on an 8 game hitting streak, and in the last 10 games, Maas has hit safely in 9 games. In one of those games during this hot hitting streak, Maas went 3 for 5, with a homerun, and 3 RBI’s against their mid season rival the Rockville Express back on July 16th. Jeremy Maas-2010 senior at the University of Pennsylvania : .350, 38R, 43H, 6HR, 25RBI, 8SB, .421/.602
The starting rotation for the Braves has been somewhat missing from the scope of positive team impact, but Jay Lynch has been the one link to sanity for a team with the worst team ERA in the league. Lynch has managed to lead the team in innings pitched (37.2), and still maintain a respectable ERA of 3.58. In his 6 starts this summer, Lynch has never pitched less than 6 innings, and his 4-1 record is a clear indication of his determination to help the team in the standings. His best outing this summer came back on July 3 rd against the Orioles. Lynch went 7 innings, gave up 1 run, 5 hits, struck out 5, and surrendered no walks. In order for the Braves to pull away from Rockville, Jay Lynch must excel in his next couple of starts. Jay Lynch-2010 freshman at Binghamton University: 5.33, 5-4, 74.1innings, 44K, .268 AVG (1CG)
In relief, Derrick Brewer has been nothing short of exceptional. The Braves have used Brewer 17 times this summer and in total, his 23 innings have saved 6 Brave games. Opposing hitters have only been able to hit .195 against him, and Brewer’s ERA of 0.39 has provided the Braves with true relief from certain beat downs the team has endured. His best outing so far this summer came on June 24th against the T-Bolts. Brewer went 4.1innings giving up just 2 hits, no runs, struck out 5 in a no decision game that the Braves ultimately lost by the score of 4-3. Derrick Brewer-2010 sophomore at Radford University: 6.35, 0-4, 39.2innings, 24K, .337 AVG
The Rockville Express is only one game behind the Braves in the race for the 4th seed in the league.
In a team where runs are not exactly being attracted with the strength of the gravitational force, Tony Mitchell is a significant element as the Express race toward a possible 4 th seed spot in the leagues championship tournament. With 15 RBI’s, Mitchell is the cleanup hitting first baseman that holds the key in the final stretch of the summer. Right now he’s hitting .316, with 2 homeruns, and 37 hits. In what can become a crucial game as we head into playoffs, Mitchell went 2 for 4 against the Braves back on July 16 th in a game that the Express lost 9-4. Tony Mitchell-2010 junior at Florida Southern: .308, 23R, 49H, 3HR, 38RBI, 2SB, .370/.435
It’s clear that Kasey Culverson leads the team in hitting, but Angel Ibanez is showing up at all the right places. He leads the team in runs scored (18) and in stolen bases (19). The leadoff hitting shortstop went 7 for 10 including 3 stolen bases in his last three games against the two top teams in the league and is now batting .308 for the Express. There is nothing like an exciting top of the lineup hitter than can generate game changing moments on the base paths, if Ibanez can just learn to take more walks, his on base percentage will increase and thus can help his team win a few more games. Angel Ibanez-2010 freshman at Texas Pan American University: .328, 43R, 66H, 5HR, 35RBI, 6SB, .390/.468
In both the setup role and in the closing role, Jose Velasquez has soothed a battered pitching staff the entire summer. In 12 games, Velasquez has not squandered a chance to stop the teams bleeding, hurt, and has prevented many games from getting out of hand. Velasquez has gone for 21 innings, his ERA is underground at 0.86, he has 4 saves, and his 2-0 record are all proof that a team needs a steady and secure arm to cartwheel its way to the mount at crucial moments. Although he hasn’t pitched against the Braves this summer, in his last two games against Big Train, Velasquez pitched a total of 4.2 innings of shutdown baseball. Despite not being a sock knocking pitcher, in his last 15 innings of work, Velasquez has only relinquished 4 inoffensive hits and no runs. Jose Velasquez-2010 senior at Florida International: Red Shirted after transferring from Nova Southeastern University
By Adrian Nevarez
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.