Aug. 14, 2008
The Harwich Mariners opened the Cape Cod Baseball League's championship series Wed., Aug. 13 with an impressive 11-2 victory over the Cotuit Kettleers at Lowell Park. Harwich can wrap up the series and capture its first Cape League title in 21 years with a victory in game two Thurs., Aug. 14 at its home park, Whitehouse Field. Bronco pitcher and Cape Cod correspondent Steve Kalush checked in with santaclarabroncos.com from the Championship.
SCU: Are you excited to play in the finals?
Kalush: Yes, it's going to be great to be playing for a championship. Especially here in the Cape league with the best players in the nation. To be able to say we are the champions of the best league in the country would be a pretty amazing accomplishment.
SCU: What has it been like there?
Kalush: It's been fun. The Cape is a great vacation spot. There's not too much to do, but we haven't really had many off days either. Living with a host family has been nice, they really take care of us well and support us at all our games.
SCU: Any words for the other Bronco teammate Tommy Medica on your team there?
Kalush: Tommy's done a great job this summer, just like he has the past two seasons for us. It's been great to have him as my catcher here. He led our team in hitting and has done really well behind the plate. He also really impressed me with his versatility in playing left field, he's probably one of our best outfielders on our cape team, and would be at Santa Clara as well.
SCU: What is it like playing on a championship team - a team gunning for the title with one more win?
Kalush: We played on a championship team in Alaska last year which was fun. But there were no playoffs, so we just finished first in the regular season. This year it's a much bigger stage and we're both in the championship hunt again, just hopefully Tommy and I come out on top.
SCU: Has this been a good experience?
Kalush: This has been a great experience for me. I'm really lucky to have been selected to come out here and play in the Cape Cod League. It's always been a goal of mine to come here and play one day. The grind of playing everyday and against the best competition in the nation has really helped me mature and develop as a player. There is no time to relax when you're on the mound here. Every hitter is one of the top two or three guys on their school team, so you have to be on top of your game to be successful.
I feel like pitching here will benefit me a lot for the future. I want to make sure the success I've had here translates onto the field for next season in helping Santa Clara win. Being the closer of a championship team is something pretty special. I love coming into the game in the 9th with the lead knowing it's up to me to shut them down and preserve the win.
We won the first game of the championship and play Thursday to hopefully close it out, so I hopefully I can check in later and let the fans know Tommy and I are champions!
The Harwich Mariners opened the Cape Cod Baseball League's championship series Wednesday with an impressive 11-2 victory over the Cotuit Kettleers at Lowell Park. Harwich can wrap up the series and capture its first Cape League title in 21 years with a victory in game two Thursday night at its home park, Whitehouse Field. Tommy Medica (Santa Clara), the starting catcher for the Harwich team, went two of five with a double and a run scored in the third inning. Medica also had eight put-outs and one assist. Bronco teammates Steve Kalush and Nate Garcia did not pitch for Harwich and Cotuit, respectively in the first game.
Cotuit's usually reliable right-hander Seth Blair (Arizona State) simply didn't have it Wednesday. Blair left after 6-2/3 innings in which he gave up 10 runs. The Mariners tacked on another run in the seventh to make it 11-0 before Cotuit got on the scoreboard.
The hometown crowd of 1,476 sensed it might be a long afternoon for their ace when Joseph Sanders (Auburn) raced home on a wild pitch by Blair in the second inning and number nine hitter Jason Stidham (Florida State) singled in a pair of runs.
Stidham, a .155 hitter with eight RBI during the regular season, really lit up the scoreboard for the Mariners with a seven-RBI game. He followed his two-RBI second with a triple for two in the third. He singled home another pair in the fifth and capped his big day with a sacrifice fly in the seventh to plate Chase Leavitt (Arkansas) with Harwich's 11th and final run.
Brandon Belt (Texas), Brian Kemp (St. John's) and Alex Hilliard (Vanderbilt) each had an RBI in Harwich's five-run third.
"When people play like Harwich did, I just sit back and congratulate them because they deserved to win the ball game," said Cotuit manager Mike Roberts. "They just played very well, they were aggressive and they took it away from us."
"Obviously we didn't play well," said Stock, "but I don't think that's going to affect us tomorrow. That's the only thing you can do ... just throw this one away and try to win two in a row. We've got nine players out there doing their best, so I think we're going to get the `W'."
Harwich right-hander Michael Morrison (Cal State-Fullerton) held Cotuit scoreless through 6-2/3 innings, scattering six hits while striking out five and walking three. Designated hitter Robert Stock (Southern California) finally knocked Morrison out of the game when he belted a two-run homer. "He was the right guy out there to start this game," said Harwich manager Steve Englert of Morrison.
"We just changed our approach a little bit at the plate and it paid off," said Englert. "Cotuit's a good team. We were just fortunate enough to string a couple of runs together early. They've got a couple of good arms over there."
Blair, who was 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in the regular season, was lifted in the sixth after giving up 10 runs. "I think they had a game plan against Seth," said skipper Roberts. "He had trouble keeping the ball down ... he's a sinker-baller and the ball didn't sink, and when he got it up (Harwich) drove it."
Game two will be played Thursday at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, starting at 7 p.m. Cotuit is pinning its hopes for survival on Nick Hernandez (Tennessee), while Harwich ace Chris Manno (Duke) gets the starting nod for the Mariners. If a third game is necessary, it will be back at Cotuit Friday afternoon at 3.