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#STINGDAILY: Summer Swing

July 30, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Several of summer collegiate baseball leagues wrapped up their regular seasons and headed into the playoffs. Many Yellow Jackets put together a final solid pre-playoff warm-up while others made a superb final impression.

Here’s a look at how they did.

Coastal Plain League (1)
Josh Heddinger, Peninsula Pilots – The sophomore right-hander raised his record to 3-0 for the summer last Monday night, throwing six shutout innings, in a 5-2 win over Columbia. Heddinger allowed only two hits, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. He didn’t allow a runner past first in facing two batters over the minimum in his six innings. Heddinger lowered his summer ERA to 2.76 (10 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings), with 29 K’s vs. 11 walks. Opposing hitters are batting a paltry .215. against him.

Peninsula had a superb week, going 5-0 and, with a 16-4 record, holds a one-game lead on Edenton (14-4) in the East.

Cape Cod League (1)
Matt Gonzalez, Bourne Braves – Gonzalez was 1-for-7 (.143) in the two games he played last week, but the one hit was a big one. It came in a two-run fifth inning of the second game of a Sunday doubleheader — he would score later in the inning — as part of the rally that gave the Braves the lead for good in a 4-3 win over Falmouth. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and gave the Braves their lone win of the week. Gonzalez began the week batting .208 for the summer.

Bourne went 1-4 last week and began the week 17-19-1, in fourth place in the Western Division, 11 points back of first place Hyannis.

New England Collegiate League (2)
Daniel Spingola, Danbury Westerners – Spingola was steady over the past week. He hit .242 (8-for-28), with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored. He stole three bases in five attempts. Spingola carried a six-game hitting streak into the week, during which he’s batted .320 (8-for-25), and has a streak of back-to-back multi-hit games. He began the week leading the team in hits (47), stolen bases (17), walks (24), is tied for the team lead in doubles (nine), and ranks second on the team in hitting. League-wide, his 47 hits are second, one off the overall lead, while he is tied for ninth in doubles and stolen bases, and is 20th in slugging at .407.

Alex Cruz, Danbury Westerners – Cruz had a strong week at the plate, batting .321 (9-for-28), with a homer and five RBIs. He’s carrying a .429 slugging average and .375 on-base percentage. He hit in seven of the eight games the Westerners played, extending his hitting streak to eight games, and had a pair of multi-hit games, before seeing the streak end on Sunday. He did score a run on Sunday, however, extending his streak of games with a run scored to three. Cruz began the week right behind Spingola on Danbury in batting average (.286), with 30 hits (tied for third), and was second on the squad in homers (four) and RBIs (17). He also had a .429 slugging average, second on the team, and a .375 on-base percentage ranked second on the team. His .765 OPS is 2/1000ths behind Spingola, good for fourth on the team.

Both Spingola and Cruz well represented the Western Division in the NECL All-Star Game held July 21, combining to go 3-for-4 — Spingola, 2-for-2, Cruz, 1-for-2 — for the West, which out-hit the East, 12-9, but lost the game, 2-1.

Danbury is 4-6 over its last 10 games and was 4-4 last week. They began the week sixth in the Western Division, 8 1/2 games back.

Hamptons Collegiate League (2)
Kyle Leach, Westhampton Aviators – The freshman right-hander did not pitch last week. Leach finished the regular season with a 2-0 record and four saves, pitching to a 1.97 ERA. He allowed only one run in his final nine appearances, covering 8 2/3 innings. He struck out 13 in 13 2/3 innings, while allowing 17 hits and five walks.

Cole Miller, Westhampton Aviators – The sophomore infielder had a bit of a hiccup during the season’s last week, hitting .182 (2-for-11), although he blasted his fifth homer of the spring on Saturday. The solo shot came in the fifth inning of the first game of a doubleheader against Sag Harbor and gave the Aviators a short-lived 1-0 lead in their 4-2 loss. That loss gave Sag the tiebreaker over Westhampton for the division title. Miller had hits in five of his last seven games, while ranking second on the team with 21 RBIs. He was third on the team with a .283 batting average, tied for third in homers and doubles, with five of each, and fourth with 30 hits. His .848 OPS and .472 slugging ranked second on the team, while his .376 on-base percentage was good for third.

The Aviators finished the regular season with a 24-16 record, tied with Sag Harbor, but lost out in the tiebreaker and finished second overall. The Aviators began the best-of-three first round of the NECL Playoffs Monday against North Fork, which finished third in the league at 22-18.

Valley League (1)
Thomas Smith, Harrisonburg Turks – Smith finished a tremendous summer season, with a flourish, hitting a scalding .444 (8-for-18) over the final week, with a double, a triple, eight RBIs and four runs scored. He also walked four times, as part of his .522 on-base percentage, and had a 1.133 OPS in the team’s five games. Smith ended the summer on a 15-game hitting streak. Unfortunately, that hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 in the first game of the playoffs. For the season, Smith hit .341, fourth in the league, with 45 hits (tied for 13th), including a team-high 10 doubles (tied for eighth), two triples (tied for sixth), and two homers. He drove in a team-high 23 runs (tied for 10th) and scored 23 more (fourth on the team, tied for 15th in the league). Defensively, the sure-handed Smith committed only two errors in 89 chances at second base, a .978 fielding percentage.

The Turks finished the regular season on a tear, winning their last six games and eight of their final 10 to earn a league-high 32 wins and take the South by 3 1/2 games. They came into the week with their backs against the wall, however, after dropping their playoff opener, 11-2, to Waynesboro (22-22). Turks pitching allowed 13 walks and the defense committed four errors.

Northwoods League (1)
Sam Clay, Mankato MoonDogs – The freshman lefty allowed four runs, but only one earned run, in 3 2/3 innings over two appearances in a pair of Mankato losses. Clay allowed only one hit in the two games, but walked three and struck out one in each appearance. In the 15-10 loss to Waterloo last Thursday, two of Clay’s walks came around to score, with the other runner that scored reaching on an error. Two of the runs came in after Clay left the game. He sports a 2.39 ERA, a .126 opposing batting average, a 1.58 WHIP and has allowed only one home run.

Mankato was 1-3 last week and began at 13-9, tied for third in the North Division, 4 1/2 games back but only one game out of second.

Florida League (1)
Grant Wruble, Leesburg Lightning – The freshman catcher saved his best for the last week of the season, batting .333 (7-for-21), with a team-high-tying four RBIs. He enters the playoffs with an eight-game hitting streak, during which he’s hit .344 (11-for-32) with three multi-hit games. The three multi-hitters came in a five-game span after managing two multi-hit games in his previous 21. Wruble finished the regular season at .267 and a .320 on-base percentage, with 24 hits (sixth on the team), including two doubles, and 10 RBIs.

Leesburg went 3-3 over the season’s final week, winning a pair of one-run games and a two-run game. The Lightning finished the regular season at 25-14, good for second, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Winter Park and begin the playoffs against Sanford (21-19) on Wednesday.

Alaska League (1)
Devin Stanton, Chugiak Chinooks – The junior lefty finished on a high note, throwing goose-eggs in his two appearances, covering 3 1/3 innings and recording his first two saves of the summer. Last Tuesday, Stanton came in and pitched out of a first-and-third, two-out jam then pitched a scoreless final inning in a 3-1 win over the Alaska Goldpanners. He followed that, on Friday, the season’s final day, pitching two scoreless innings, while stranding a pair of runners in scoring position to record a save in the Chinooks’ 8-5 win over the Anchorage Bucs. The two outings lowered Stanton’s ERA to 3.22 (third on the team and 20th in the league), his opposing batting average to .261 and his WHIP to 1.43 (third on the team).

Chugiak went 3-3 last week and finished strong, recording a final-day sweep of the Bucs, scoring eight runs in each game. The Chinooks finished the season in fifth place at 8-27, 14 games out of first, and did not qualify for the playoffs.

Sunbelt League (1)
Mitch Earnest, OTC Bearcats – The junior catcher had a solid final week, hitting in three straight games, to extend his hitting streak to five games. He’s hitting hit .333 (5-for-15) during the streak. Last Monday he had his second multi-RBI game, including a final-inning sacrifice fly that gave OTC a 5-3 lead in a game they would lose in heart-breaking fashion, 6-5, to the Brookhaven Bucks. He finished hitting .195, with a double and four RBIs. Defensively, Earnest had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage with 82 putouts and 10 assists in 11 games.

OTC went 1-4, splitting a pair of one-run games last Tuesday but then dropped their final three games to the Atlanta Crackers by a combined 30-5 margin. The Bearcats finished at 5-22, 13 games out.

Cal Ripken League (1)
Will Young, Herndon Braves – The sophomore infielder batted .226 (7-for-31), bookending the week with superb games. He started last Monday with a 3-for-4 game and ending the season by batting .300 (3-for-10) over the final three games, capping the season yesterday with a 2-for-4 day, his ninth multi-hit game of the summer. Young finished second on the team, batting .264, second on the team, with a team-high 37 hits and a team-high-tying two triples. He drove in 13 runs, scored 14 more, and stole eight bases in nine attempts. He also had a .317 slugging average and a .639 OPS. Defensively, Young played well at both second and short, compiling a .929 fielding percentage. He also showed he could play the outfield, manning center field in the league All-Star Game for the victorious South squad.

Herndon ended the season 2-7-1 over the final week, finishing at the bottom of the 12-team league, at 10-34, 20 1/2 games back.

South Florida Collegiate League (1)
Greg Feinberg, Boca Raton Lightning – The freshman went 1-for-4 over the final week, but 1-for-2 in the season finale, his final start. He hit .400 (2-for-5) over his final two starts. Feinberg finished the summer hitting .176, with a .263 on-base percentage. Defensively, he fielded at a .953 clip, committing only two errors, and last Wednesday even showed he could pitch, as he hurled three shutout innings against the South Florida Huskies in a 12-8 loss. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out one over those blank frames, and was the only Boca pitcher of four to not allow a run.

The Lightning finished 5-4-1 over their final 10 games but 1-3 over the final week and finished the season 14-15, in third place in the North, just behind the FOS Eagles, who gained the final playoff spot.

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