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Summer School: NECBL - Keene, Newport trying to distance themselves from the pack

Posted by Craig Forde  July 13, 2012 10:59 AM

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Thumbnail image for NECBL_NewLogoHiRes.JPGThe NECBL saved New England once again by recently vanquishing the British, so we owe it to them to take another look around the league to see what’s happening.

Two teams are trying to run away with their respective divisions and we’ll start with a look at the West where the Keene Swamp Bats sit comfortably atop the standings at Thumbnail image for Swampbats logo.png20-6. A 6-2 start to the month of July has them five games up on second place North Adams. Two players sitting in the top-five on the league batting average chart have helped key a team average of .302, good for second best in the league. Frankie Schwindel (St. John’s) is fifth in the league at .386, followed closely by J.P. Sportman (Central Connecticut) who is sixth with a .383 mark and first with 32 RBIs. Eight Swamp Bat pitchers have two or more victories and reliever Kyle Gehrs (Iowa Western CC) is tied for the league lead with five saves.

The Newport Gulls share the same 20-6 record, giving them a 3 1/2 game cushion atop the Eastern Division. Despite having a seven-game hit streak snapped on Thursday night, Yale Rosen (Washington State) continues to rake, batting .363 (eighth in league), with 10 home runs (second), 31 RBIs( tied-second), 27 runs (second) and a 1.240 OPS (fourth). Catcher Jeff Melillo (Rutgers-New Brunswick) is second in the league with a .393 batting average and has driven in a run in each of his last eight games. Starting pitcher Daniel Wright (Arkansas State) has been on the hill for a quarter of the Gulls victories, picking up a “W” in each of his five starts.

July has been kind to the Danbury Westerners who have swooped into contention into the Western Division thanks to a current five game win streak and a 7-2 mark for the month. They are one game behind second place North Adams who they will face on Friday night. Tom Zenge's (North Carolina)eight home runs and Andrew Garner’s (Tulane)seven have helped the Westerners to a team total 39 round-trippers, second most in the league. Brian Houseal (Marist) has pitched a league-high 44 2/3 innings and has five wins in six starts to go along with a 2.82 ERA. Houseal has allowed eight home runs this season, but still maintains a 0.99 WHIP. Bay Sox logo.png

In the Eastern Division, the New Bedford Bay Sox stand as the only contenders to the top spot held by Newport. At 18-11 they are the only other team in the East over .500 and are within striking range of the Gulls. With a team ERA of 4.88, the Blue Sox staff is in higher-half on the league charts, but their 241 strikeouts ranks as second most in the NECBL. Reliever Jonathan Massad (Southern N.H.) has a team-high 27 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

North Adams SteepleCats speedster Jeff Roy (URI) leads the league with 18 stolen bases and is looking to become only the third player in league history to swipe 20 bases and hit 10 or more doubles. Aaron Barbosa (Northeastern) of the Vermont Mountaineers is second in the league with 16 stolen bases. Both have been caught only once this season.

Alex Haines (Seton Hill) continues to dazzle from the hill despite a mediocre run by 12-14 Vermont. He is first in the league with a microscopic 0.31 ERA, first with an opponents’ batting average of only .131 and his 0.59 WHIP is best of any pitcher that has thrown 10 or more innings. He is 4-1 with 35 strikeouts and has only walked four batters.

Now back to the British invasion…Over the Independence Day holiday week, the Great Britain National baseball team invaded New England and faced off against some NECBL squads in an effort to give their program some top-notch competition. North Adams (won 7-0), Keene (won 33-0), Vermont (won 15-1) and Holyoke (won 5-2) all played host to the Brits and each team showed them why this is still considered America’s pastime. But it was about the experience for the Great Britain team as the team’s general manager Jo Ratcliffe noted in a recent article by Don Leypoldt:

“ It’s been a fabulous experience coming over here. One of the main reasons to come out here is that our guys don’t have the opportunity to face pitching at the speed that you pitch. For them, to come out here and face this sort of pitching is terrific.”

You can read more about the Great Britain National team’s trip across the NECBL here.

Pitchers of the Week
Week ending 7/7 – Yale Rosen (Washington State), Newport Gulls
Week ending 6/30 – Frank Schwindel (St. John’s), Keene Swamp Bats
Week ending 6/23 – Jeramy Matos (Central Florida), Mystic Schooners
Week ending 6/16 – Danny Collins (Troy), Laconia Muscrats
Week ending 6/9 – Nolan Snell (Colorado Mesa), Vermont Mountaineers

Players of the Week
Week ending 7/7 – Alex Haines (Seton Hill), Vermont Mountaineers
Week ending 6/30 – Brian Derner (George Washington), New Bedford Bay Sox
Week ending 6/23 – Kevin McAvoy (Bryant), Ryan Horstman (St. John’s) & Tyler Gauthier (Southern N.H.), Keene Swamp Bats
Week ending 6/16 – Drew Duncan (Kennesaw State), Holyoke Blue Sox
Week ending 6/9 – Connor Biggio (Notre Dame), North Adams SteepleCats

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About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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