It’s been so long since I made my Falmouth and Hyannis prediction that I actually had to go back and make sure I did, in fact, say that I thought the Commodores would come out on top with the Bircher/McArdle matchup. Silly rain. Thankfully, that won’t be a factor for the next few days (and hopefully the remainder of the playoffs).
I’m not really surprised Falmouth beat Hyannis, despite the seeding and the phenomenal season the Hawks have had. I’ve seen both play quite a bit this summer, and within the first few innings, it was pretty clear who came out with a fighting attitude. Joe Bircher (Bradley) may not have earned the win against Hyannis that night (that honor went to Nate Thornhill from Texas), but the kid was rock steady in his appearance. Aside from a double that nearly cleared the fence and a jam in the fifth, when he was pulled, he showed why he’s one of my favorite pitchers here this summer. He may not throw mid-90s (or even close, he’s typically a mid-80s guy), but he has great command over his pitches and is a heckuva strikeout guy. With Thornhill dominating the 3.1 innings he pitched and John Simms (Rice) shutting down the Hawks in the final inning, Falmouth walked away with the 5-2 win.
Add in two strong performances against Wareham to SWEEP the Gatemen, and we have our Western Division competitor for the ‘ship. Falmouth just continues to impress me, despite their miserably slow start to the season and their last-minute bid for a playoff spot. They are the underdogs, and remind me so much of last year’s Cotuit team that it’s somewhat scary (and it’s not just because both wear pinstripes). Most impressive was their game 1 against Wareham, where, down to their last out, they managed to tie the game up, force extra innings, and WIN 4-1 in the 10th. They have the mentality of a winner going right now, and that’s hugely important.
But then again, so does Harwich, who has a day of rest under their belts after sweeping YD, and this year’s Harwich team reminds me a little bit of the 2008 championship team. The final game of the YD sweep was an interesting one to watch, where the Mariners took full advantage of a few key calls. In the third, they tacked a pair of runs on the board when a diving catch in centerfield by James Ramsey (FSU) was deemed NOT a catch. It was a huge moment in the game, which was essentially a pitching duel, with Taylor Rogers (Kentucky) dominating for eight innings of ball, giving up four hits and only two runs late in the game. Thankfully that inning was not the defining moment, as Austin Wilson (Stanford) plated Jake Davies (Georgia Tech) in the sixth, and Austin Nola (LSU) jacked a shot over the centerfield fence in the ninth just for good measure for the 4-2 win.
Essentially, the ‘ship series is coming down to two very good teams with very distinctive personalities. The Commodores are by far the underdogs. Two weeks ago, if someone had said they’d be in the championship series, I think they’d have been laughed off the field. And here’s Harwich, whom most folks expected to make it. Both have strong pitching and so-so hitting that, despite being hit-or-miss (no pun intended), has managed to get them where they need to be. They certainly have the potential at the plate to poke a line drive or a gapper where it needs to go to get on base, and they exploit the other team’s missteps to their advantage. I don’t know who will win it all, to be honest. I know both sides want it, I know both sides have the potential, and I think it’s going to be a great series to watch. It starts tonight at 7pm in Harwich (with Joey Malkin on the air for the home team).