The New Jake

July 14, 2011

Jake Davies didn’t like being an average hitter for Georgia Tech last season — even if that average was .347, second on the team and sixth in the ACC.

He wasn’t particularly thrilled about the three teammates and 14 ACC players who had more hits than his 77 and the two Jackets and 20 conference opponents who topped his .416 on-base percentage.

Don’t even get him started about his .482 slugging percentage and five homers, which were third and fourth on the team and ranked in the top 25 in the conference.

As he heads into his senior season, he wants more for himself and, more important, for the team. To that end, Davies is one of nine Yellow Jackets honing his skills in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, playing first base for the Harwich Mariners.

Davies, who is spending his second straight summer on the Cape (last season he played with the Wareham Gatemen), chatted with Sting Daily prior to a recent game against the Chatham Anglers, which features sophomore pitcher Buck Farmer. He talked about what he’s doing this summer that will make him smile at the plate next season, what teammate and Brewster Whitecap Daniel Bard did that made him smile during a recent showdown and what teammate and Wareham Gateman Daniel Palka did that could potentially make Georgia Tech fans smile next season.

STING DAILY: You got a late start up here. How have your first weeks been on the Cape?

Jake Davies: It’s been good. I waited a couple of days before I came up here because I was looking for a spot up here and I found one over here in Harwich. So I got lucky and got a spot up here. The weather’s been iffy, so we’ve missed a couple of games here and there but other than that it’s going really good for me.

SD: What’s involved in getting on a team up here?

JD: Sometimes you have to wait because most of the teams that go to the College World Series have guys on this team. So that and a lot of players go to Team USA and they leave spots open up here. Two guys went to Team USA and that left a spot open for me. [Wareham] Head Coach Steve Englert gave me a call and I got a chance to come up here and play.

SD: How is the level of play?

JD: The level of competition is awesome. This is the best league in the country in the summer. You’re not seeing guys under 90 miles an hour throwing and the guys that are hitting are all big league guys, big league swings. It’s pretty cool.

SD: What are you working on up here?

JD: I’ve been trying to work on staying through the ball and hitting to the opposite field and being more of a pure hitter instead of being a streaky guy and just work on my hitting a little bit more.

SD: What’s it like seeing Georgia Tech teammates, especially Wareham, which has four Jackets (OF Brandon Thomas, 1B/DH Daniel Palka, 2B/SS Mott Hyde and RHP Matt Grimes)?

JD: It’s exciting because you know the next season is going to be even more exciting than the last season. I think we have four guys in Wareham, we have two in Falmouth (that’s down to one, in freshman RHP DeAndre Smelter), one here in Chatham (Farmer), one in Brewster (Bard). So when you have that many guys up here it shows you have a pretty good team for next year. I’m really excited about next year with Dan [Palka] and Kyle Wren (who is playing with the Cotuit Kettleers) coming back as a leadoff guy, Mott Hyde and all those guys. It’s going to be a fun year.

SD: Is it weird to have so many guys on one team and the rest of guys spread out?

JD: That was kind of weird because I played in Wareham last summer and there was only two of us (former Jacket LHP Jed Bradley also was on the team) and I was going to try to get back on the team there and they had four guys already. I was like, ‘Oh, wow, well, that’s not going to work out.’ So I tried to find a spot somewhere else. You get to experience the whole Cape. Wareham’s not really on the Cape. They’ll tell you that up here (laughs). We’re getting more of [the Cape experience] than they are.

SD: What’s it like when you face a teammate, like Luke Bard or Buck Farmer?

JD: It’s always fun. You go up there and you get a big smile because you’re hoping he’s going to throw you a fastball down the middle and then he throws a slider and you give him a big smile. Like the other day Luke Bard did that to me. He started the game against us for Brewster and he threw that first-pitch fastball down the middle. I was sitting slider and I just smiled at him. He smiled back at me and said, ‘That was your one.’ Everything else was nowhere near the plate and I was swinging at it and he had me all over the place. I got a hit off him, though. That was the best part. Getting a hit off a guy is the best part.

SD: What were your thoughts on Daniel Palka’s pitching for Wareham (he pitched the ninth inning of Wareham’s July 5th 15-6 loss to Falmouth, allowing three runs (two earned), two hits, two walks with one strikeout)?

JD: Was he pitching? Wow. I wonder how he looked. He threw in the fall last year but other than that, he hadn’t thrown in a good four, five months. So I hope he looked good because that’s just another lefty we have out of the ‘pen.

I’ll get on him a little bit. You like to rag guys some. Hopefully he gets good because the more left-handed pitching you have in college baseball is better for you. You can see Florida, every guy they brought out of the ‘pen [threw] 94 on the left side and you can see where they got to, the championship game of the College World Series. So left-handed pitching really helps out.

SD: How would you rate the overall experience of the league?

JD: It’s like going to minor league baseball games. It’s not the big stadiums but you get the feel. The fans are really into it. They really love the game. It’s like being in small cities. It’s fun to play baseball. This is what baseball should be. Nobody’s really riding you hard. It’s not a strict environment. You come out here, you play, you have fun, you go home at night, you eat and you hang out with your host family. It’s a pretty cool environment, pretty fun. It’s a nice place to play.

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