July 23, 2006
The Notre Dame Summer Baseball Diaries continue this week as rising junior third baseman Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) checks in from the Cape Cod League, where he is playing with the division-leading Cotuit Kettleers. Another member of Notre Dame's 2006 team - catcher Sean Gaston - also is back with the Kettleers this summer, after being a Cape Cod League all-star and Cotuit's team MVP in 2005.
(Note: Lilley's diary entry is included at the end of this release, which also includes a look at Cotuit and an update on other Notre Dame players currently active in summer leagues; the Summer Baseball Diary schedule should be updated and finalized within the next few days).
Cotuit is leading the CCL's Western Division with a 20-19-1 record (as of July 22), as the Kettleers look to win the championship of the nation's most prestigious wood-bat summer collegiate league. Cotuit owns the league's best team batting average (.267) and top staff ERA (2.19), with Lilley doing his part by compiling a team-best .423 season on-base percentage that includes 11 hits, 13 walks and 6 times hit-by-pitch. The two-time all-BIG EAST Conference performer - who is experiencing his first summer in a wood-bat league, after sitting out in the summer of '05 due to a back injury - also has totaled 9 runs, 5 RBI, 4 sac. bunts, 8 strikeouts, 1-of-2 stolen bases and 4 errors while appearing in 24 games (all at third base).
Gaston ranks 4th among the Cotuit players in RBI (13), hits (26) and runs scored (14) while also ranking 5th on the team in games played (27) and 6th with a .263 batting average. His other season stats include 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 sac. bunts, 3 HBPs, 7 walks, 15 Ks, 0-2 on SBs and just a single error (he has made 24 starts at catcher, plus a lone start in the outfield).
The Cotuit squad also includes James Madison outfielder Kellen Kulbacki - whose All-America season in 2006 included ranking among the nation's all-around offensive leaders - plus several players from traditional powers, such as: Georgia Tech LHPs Tim Ladd and Dave Duncan, Florida State infielder Tony Thomas, three South Carolina players (infielders Reese Havens and Justin Smoak and RHP Michael Cisco) and Mississippi State IF/OF Jeff Rea. College of Charleston RHP Graham Godfrey also is a member of the Kettleers (he was the starting pitcher versus Notre Dame in the 16-inning game at the 2006 NCAA Lexington Regional).
Former North Carolina head coach Mike Roberts again is serving as the head coach for Cotuit. Roberts is the father of current major leaguer Brian Roberts, who played at UNC and at South Carolina before pursuing his pro career.
In addition to Gaston and Lilley, several others from Notre Dame have played in the Cape Cod League, including: IF Mike Amrhein ('95), CF Scott Sollmann ('95), C Jeff Wagner (Harwich Mariners, '97 all-star), IF Brant Ust (Harwich, '97), RHP Alex Shilliday (Harwich, '98), IF Alec Porzel (Brewster Whitecaps, '99), CF Steve Stanley (Brewster, '99-'00), C Paul O'Toole (Brewster '00, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox '01), OF Brian Stavisky (Hyannis Mets '00, '01), OF Matt Bok (Bourne Braves, '01), 3B/C Andrew Bushey (YD, '01), 2B Steve Sollmann (YD, '01-'02), RHP Chris Niesel (Falmouth Commodores, '02, '03), RHP John Axford (Hyannis, '02; Cotuit Kettleers, '03), RHP Martin Vergara (Falmouth, '02), 3B Matt Macri (Brewster, '03), LHP Tom Thornton (Wareham Gatemen, '04), OF Craig Cooper (Brewster, '04 and '05), RHP Jeff Manship (Cotuit, '05), RHP Dan Kapala (Falmouth, '05) and SS Greg Lopez (YD, '05).
Here are some other updates on players from Notre Dame's 2006 team who currently are active in various college summer wood-bat leagues:
BREZOVSKY AND ELAM SOARING WITH THE LARKS - Notre Dame has a long tradition of sending players to the Jaywawk League's Hays (Kan.) Larks and the two Irish representatives on the 2006 Hays team, rising junior 2B Ross Brezovsky and sophomore-to-be LHP Sam Elam, are playing key roles as the Harks near another league title (the team is in 1st place with a 25-12 league record, 33-12 overall) ... Brezovsky ranks 4th on the team in batting (.327, well above the overall team batting avg. of .301) and ranks 5th among the Larks players with 26 runs scored ... his other stats in 32 games played (29 starts) include 32 hits, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 16 RBI, a .429 slugging pct., 10 walks, a HBP, 8 Ks, a .394 on-base pct., a sac. bunt, a stolen base and 7 errors (.947 fielding pct.) ... Elam averaged better than two strikeouts per inning pitched as a high school senior in Texas (92 Ks in 45 IP, for Poteet HS) and has put in similar numbers this summer for Hays (he had 19 Ks in 12.1 IP for the Irish during the '06 season) ... Elam is averaging 14.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched this season (55 Ks/33.2 IP) while leading the Larks in ERA (1.34; min. 15 IP), Ks and low opponent batting avg. (.091) ... he also ranks 2nd on the staff in wins (6-0), with his other stats including 14 appearances (2 starts), just 10 hits and 8 walks allowed, 4 wild pitches and 4 hit batters (he has yet to allow an extra-base hit all summer) ... the Hays roster also includes three players from Baylor (RHP Reed Woytek, LHP/OF Cliff Springstein and C Matt Sodolak) and Missouri RHP Aaron Crow and OF Evan Frey ... other recent ND players who have been on the Larks include: Brezovsky and LHP David Gruener in '05, Craig Cooper ('03), Cody Rizzo ('03, injured), Tyler Jones ('02), Javi Sanchez ('02), Ryan Kalita ('02), J.P. Gagne ('01), Joe Thaman ('01), Andrew Bushey ('00), Matt Buchmeier ('00), Drew Duff ('99-'00), Paul O'Toole ('99), Mike Carlin ('98), Ben Cooke ('98-'99), Jeff Felker ('98-'99) and Pat Davis (he also later was Hays assistant coach).
KORPI KEEPS ROLLING WITH STAUNTON BRAVES - Rising junior LHP Wade Korpi had a stellar 2006 as ND's #4 starter (team-best 2.00 ERA, 7-2 record, 94 Ks, 27 BB, 55 H/.204 in 76.1 IP) and has maintained his quality pitching while playing for the second straight summer with the Valley League's Staunton (Va.) Braves ... the Braves are just 14-26 and Korpi has earned just three decisions (2-1) in his 38.1 innings, which include a lowly 0.94 ERA, 38 Ks, 24 walks and 28 hits allowed (7 GS, 3 WP) ... he owns the top ERA among the regulars on the staff and would be leading the league in ERA if not falling a little shy of the innings-pitched minimum (his .204 opp. batting avg. would rank 3rd in the Valley League) ... the Braves include several other players from top teams, such as Alabama RHP Casey Kebodeaux, Virginia catcher Ryan Hudson, OF Mike Mitchell and RHP Jake Rule, and LSU outfielder Kade Keowen, plus two other BIG EAST Conference players in South Florida OF Josh LeRoy and Louisville LHP David Torcise.
GREAT LAKES LEAGUE UPDATE - Four Notre Dame players have seen action in the Great Lakes League this summer but only one of them still is active playing in the league ... rising senior LHP/1B Mike Dury has emerged as one of the top power hitters for the Grand Lake Mariners, leading the team in doubles (7) while ranking 2nd in RBI (12) and runs scored (11), 3rd in walks (11) and 4th in games played (28, with 27 GS) ... Dury's other stats include 14 hits, a home run, 6 HBPs, 31 Ks, 2 sac. bunts, 2-of-2 SBs, and 2 errors (his pitching stats: 3.48 ERA, 0-2, 5 GP/2 GS, 10.1 IP, 16 H, 5 BB, 4 Ks, WP, 3.21 team ERA) ... the Mariners are 15-18-1 and stand 7th in the tightly-bunched standings for the 9-team league ... three other ND players - rising sophomore 2B Jeremy Barnes, sophomore-to-be RHP Kyle Weiland and rising senior RHP Jeff Manship (who has two years of eligibility remaining) - played earlier this summer with the Delaware (Ohio) Cows (each was granted a release from the team) ... Barnes recently returned home to Texas in order to spend some time in speed training with an Olympic-level sprinter from the area ... Barnes stats with the Cows include 17 GP (14 GS), 4 R, 5 H, 3B, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 10 Ks, 2 SAC, 7-7 SB and 3 Es (.959) ... Weiland also has returned home and resume training later in the summer in his hometown of Albuquerque ... Weiland made a pair of starts with the Cows (0-1, 4.50, 6 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 4 HB) and also competed for a spot on Team USA (3 GP, 5.1 IP, 5 R/3 ER, 5 Ks, 6 H, 4 BB) ... Manship - who was a 14th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins but has yet to sign - joined the Cows on a pre-arranged schedule in which he made three short starts (2.57, 7 IP, 4 H, 5 R/2 ER, 5 Ks, 0 BB, HB) before joining Barnes in making a return to his home state of Texas.
OTHER SUMMER UPDATES - Rising senior OF Danny Dressman was working out at ND during the first half of the summer but recently returned to the Northwoods League's Madison Mallards (8 GP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1-2 SB) ... the Mallards still are drawing huge crowds (avg. home attendance of 5,888) and are hoping to win the South Division second-half title (now 2nd, at 9-4) after finishing 4th in the first half (16-18) ... two members of the 2006 ND team - RHP David Phelps (6 GP/3 GS, 30 H/.226, 23 BB, 3 HBP, 7 WP, 27 Ks, 2-2, 38.2 IP, 3.72 ERA) and LHP David Gruener (7 GP, 28 H/.196, 10 BB, 6 HB, 36 Ks, 2-2 SB, 40.2 IP, 1.11 ERA, WP) - have been playing this summer in the Alaska League with the Mat-Su Miners, who are 3rd in the league with a 16-14 record ... rising junior RHP Joey Williamson is playing for the 4th-place Anchorage Glacier Pilots (13-14 team record; his stats: 2-2, 13 GP/2 GS, 29.2 IP, 28 H/.252, 14 BB, 2 Ks, WP, 12 HB) ... ND has sent eight players to Mat-Su in the past nine years, with others including: LHP Tim Kalita ('98), OF Matt Strickroth ('99-'00), RHP Danny Tamayo ('00), 1B/3B Matt Edwards ('04), OF/C Cody Rizzo ('05) and OF Matt Bransfield ('05) ... nine other recent ND players have competed with the Alaska Goldpanners: IF Craig DeSensi ('93), OF Ryan Topham ('93), RHPs Tim Kraus ('94), Darrin Schmalz ('94-'95) and Christian Parker ('95), IF J.J. Brock ('97), RHP Aaron Heilman ('98), IF Alec Porzel ('98) and RHP J.P. Gagne ('02) ... other ND players who have been active in the Alaska League in recent years include two with the Kenai Peninsula Oilers: RHP Alex Shilliday ('97) and LHP Chris McKeown ('98) ... rising sophomore RHP Brett Graffy is playing with the 3rd-place DuPage Dragons (17-15) of the Central Illinois League (2.74, 1-1, 6 GP/3 GS, 23 IP, 22 H/.256, 6 BB, 21 KS, 2 WP, 3 HB) ... sophomore-to-be 3B/C Eddy Mendiola has helped the Altamonte Springs Snappers post the best record (21-6) in the Florida League (24 GS/23 GS, 10 R, 16 H, 3 2B, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 3 HBP, 24 K, SAC, 1-3 SB, 6 E, 18 starts at 3B/5 at C) ... Ryan Connolly, who did not play as a freshman in ND's '06 season due to injury, is playing in the New York League as a DH with the Amsterdam Mohawks (31 GP/27 GS, 14 R, 17 H, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 10 BB, 5 HBP, 31 Ks, 2 SAC, 8-12 SB) ... rising senior RHP Jess Stewart started the summer with the Coastal Plains League's Wilson (N.C.) Tobs (1 GP, 2 IP, 3 H) but has retuned to ND due to shoulder tendonitis ... Stewart joined two other seniors-to-be, RHP Dan Kapala and catcher Chris Soriano, in attending the recent press conference that introduced new ND baseball coach Dave Schrage ... two other ND players (Tony Langford and Evan Sharpley) are on campus this summer but were unable to attend the press conference.
Notre Dame 2006 Summer Baseball Diary #2 (Brett Lilley; Cotuit Kettleers; Cape Cod League; July 23)
"I've always heard that Cape Cod is a special place and my experiences so far have proven it to be just that. The only downside to the experience is the amount of rain. We have been rained out so many times that our one day off a week has been eliminated all summer. I do find time, however, to experience the scenery that the Cape has to offer. I've been to the beach, a clear-water pond and out on the boat in the ocean with my host dad, Bill.
"Living with my host family is quite a unique experience. Bill, my host father, has an interesting job. If you watched the Olympics at all this winter, you've heard his voice. He's a voiceover artist, doing promos for NBC, Nick at Nite, and other television networks. He does some movie trailers as well. Bill does his work out of my host family's basement on Friday through Tuesday morning, then works out of New York City Tuesday afternoon through Thursday night. He's a pretty cool guy.
"My host mom is sweet and accommodating, and my three host sisters (ages 21, 17, and 14) were easy to adjust to because I have three sisters of my own. I've pretty much blended in and become one of the family.
"The house is pretty sweet - I get my own room with bathroom and TV. I never watch TV in my room, though, because they have a flat-screen HD with digital cable and DVR - all I could ever need. I'm having a summer of TV-watching and sucker-eating with a little baseball on the side, of course.
"My team, the Cotuit Kettleers, currently is leading the league, with a record of 18-7-1. The Cape League has a real small-town feel, at least in Cotuit. The games mean a lot to the hometown crowd, many of whom have been coming to the games for years. We average about 1,000 fans a game.
"Some teams, like Orleans, in the big tourist areas draw a crowd of about 2,000 a game. There are a lot of kids at the games and the Cape League in general attracts a lot of families. I have learned a lot in regards to baseball out here and feel that my skills have improved. School and fall baseball seem to be right around the corner and I'm excited to get after it.
"In closing, I'd like to thank our former coaches and wish them the best of luck. I'm looking forward to my junior year at Notre Dame and meeting coach Schrage."
- Brett Lilley