CCBL Champion

Aug. 15, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn

Sting Daily

– When Sting Daily called Jake Davies Monday as he rolled through North Carolina on the long drive from Cape Cod to Atlanta, he had fine tales to tell about what turned out to be one of the great summers of his (nearly ended) youth.

The stories centered around his starring role in the Harwich Mariners’ drive to the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship. He batted .370 in the postseason, and started on the mound in Saturday’s finale against Falmouth.

Context made the stories better still.

As summer began, the rising Georgia Tech senior was something of a cast-about.

He’d hoped to be drafted in June but wasn’t, and then the CCBL – with eight other Tech players already on rosters — had no room.

As fate had it, he got a call.

“I missed the first week-and-half of the season; I didn’t have a spot,” Davies said. “I just had to wait until something opened up, and then Harwich had spots open up when a couple of players went to Team USA.”

Davies likely wasn’t drafted because his junior season – when his .347 batting average was second on the team to Matt Skole’s .348– was his first as a full-time player at Tech. He was almost exclusively a pitcher as a freshman and sophomore, occasionally serving as the Yellow Jackets’ first lefty out of the bullpen.

By contrast, after making 27 pitching appearances for the Jackets in 2009 and 17 in 2010, he pitched one-third of an inning in ’11. He’s a first baseman now.

With an asterisk.

Harwich began running out of pitchers late in the season so Davies made a couple appearances. Then, in game two of the best-of-three championship series against Falmouth, he started.

His work was modest as he went 2.1 innings, but although he allowed six hits, the lefty surrendered four runs. Just one was earned.

“We ran out of pitching with injuries and some kids going home . . . so they threw me out there,” Davies said. “I had thrown some bullpen [during the summer] and I told them I wanted to throw just in case Georgia Tech needed me this year. It wasn’t like I hadn’t seen a mound; I just hadn’t faced hitters.”

Great as it was for him to chew up some innings, Davies’ bat would prove more important as the game wore on.

He singled and scored to break a third-inning tie, and then doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh and later scored himself as Harwich won 7-5.

After batting .241 during the CCBL regular season, Davies found a groove in the playoffs. “I was seeing the ball a little better, getting my foot down sooner and getting the barrel over on the ball,” he said.

This is not a path typically traveled, but neither is it the first time that a Tech player has gone from pitcher to player successfully.

Charlie Blackmon transferred as a pitcher from Young Harris Junior College to Tech in 2006 (after being drafted as a pitcher both after high school and his first year in junior college).

The lefty made just one appearance on the mound for the Jackets in `07, but upon switching to the outfield he became an All-ACC second teamer and then was drafted in the second round by the Rockies in `08.

Davies was an All-ACC second teamer in the spring.

Earlier this season, Blackmon made his Major League debut only to break a foot while playing in Atlanta on July 7. That looks to have been a season-ending injury. Davies hopes to follow a similar trail – minus injury.

He went 10-for-27 with four doubles, six RBI and five runs scored in the Mariners’ seven-game postseason run to the title, prompting Harwich manager Steve Englert to tell the Cape Cod Times, “That kid’s a horse.”

Regardless of the future, Davies can look warmly back on the summer of ’11.

“The baseball part is extremely good. Guys are throwing 90-plus fastballs every inning. It’s great competition,” he said. “The host families are fantastic. The guys are fun, the towns are small and all the fans love it. It’s a great environment.” stingdaily@gmail.com

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