The idea of a summer vacation for college athletes is a myth. We already have plenty of stories of the summer pick up games for the basketball team, football players train even if they aren’t in an official capacity, and it’s no different for baseball.
While the College World Series wraps up, baseball leagues that include collegiate players are already up and running. UNC players are scattered throughout a lot of them, but none of the leagues are more prestigious as the Cape Cod League.
First a primer: all of these leagues are for collegiate amateurs, and don’t offer any sort of pay. It’s a way for some of the best collegiate players in the country to continue playing baseball during the summer against their peers, and do it in front of a ton of MLB scouts. Some of you may even remember the cinematic classic Summer Catch starring Freddie Prince, Jr. For those of you who don’t want to learn about baseball from Fred and Shaggy, I’d recommend this great piece from Matt Viser. Worth noting, Viser is the Deputy DC Bureau Chief for The Boston Globe. He’s also a UNC grad.
I mean, how can you not read what he wrote?
I fully admit, it took me eight summers to get down to Cape Cod and watch a CCL game. It’s a different experience. From the free admission (a donation is appreciated) to the lack of any sound effects coming from the speaker, one feels like you are transported back to a different time in baseball. It really is a great opportunity to see future stars...as long as some of the games are finished before the sun goes down.
Little bit of controversy-no lights at the field, and after 8 the game is called. Still a great amount of light but, umps are done— Al Hood (@albhood) July 20, 2016
That night I was there to see Brian Miller and Zack Gahagan battle on opposite sides. I saw both get a hit, though Gahagan had the better night getting on base three times, and knocking in a few runs.
This year, per UNC, 12 Tar Heels will be playing on the Cape:
- Austin Bergner - Chatham
- Rodney Hutchison Jr. - Chatham
- Ashton McGee - Chatham
- Cody Roberts - Chatham
- Tyler Baum - Harwich
- Cole Aker - Harwich
- Brett Daniels - Orleans
- Josh Hiatt - Orleans
- Brandon Riley - Orleans
- Taylor Sugg - Orleans
- Robbie Peto - Falmoth
- Kyle Datres - Brewster
The League kicked off on June 14th, meaning we already have about two weeks of games in the books. So far, here’s how the Diamond Heels are doing:
All Stats as of 6/26 via Pointstreak, keeping stats for the Cape Cod League
- Austin Bergner: Pitched 6/25: 3 IP, 1 ER, 7 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 2K, 3.00 ERA
- Rodney Hutchinson, Jr: Pitched 6/25: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA
- Ashton McGee: 6/20-25: 5 G, 17 AB, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 K, .176 Avg
- Cody Roberts: 6/18-25: 6 G, 21 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, .143 Avg
- Tyler Baum: Pitched 6/18 & 6/25: 13 IP, 2-0, 12 SO, 1 BB, 6 H, 0.69 ERA
- Cole Aker: 6/14-23: 4 G, 8.1 IP, 0-1, 1 SV, 9K, 3H 5 BB, 1.08 ERA
- Brett Daniels: 6/19-25: 3 G, 5.2 IP, 1 SV 6K, 4H, 0 BB, 1.58 ERA
- Josh Hiatt: 6/17-24: 4 G, 6 IP, 3 SV, 8K, 2H, 4 BB, 0.00 ERA
- Brandon Riley: 6/15-25: 11 G, 39 AB, 6 R, 13 H, 2 Triples, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K, .333 Avg
- Taylor Sugg: 6/15-24: 3 G, 7.2 IP, 5K, 3 BB, 10 H, 5.87 ERA
- Robbie Peto: 6/14-25: 3 G, 0-1, 10 IP, 8 K, 8 BB, 9 H, 7.20 ERA
- Kyle Datres: 6/18-26: 8 G, 30 AB, 7 R, 7 H, 2 Doubles, 5 BB, 6K, 1 SB, .233 Avg
So far, Riley has gotten off to a solid start in the field, and Datres has a respectable line for someone moving from aluminum to wood. Baum has lit the world on fire with his two starts so far, and so far everyone up on the Cape has seen some game action.
The experience will only help as the Heels recover from the disappointing end to 2017 and try to storm back next year. We’ll keep checking in with the Diamond Heels periodically, and the hope is to sneak down to the Cape to catch them in action once or twice this season.
The regular season goes through August 3rd, with the playoffs lasting till August 13th at the latest.