ASU baseball players reminisce about Cape Cod memories
For a collegiate baseball player, there isn’t much that compares to playing in Cape Cod during the summer.
From fans lining up lawn chairs down the first- and third-base lines at fields most often used for high school games to picturesque sunsets nestled behind the center-field fence, the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) is baseball personified.
The league has housed some of the MLB’s best active players. Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, and New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge were among those who called the Cape home for a couple summer months of their college career.
Five Arizona State baseball players hope that their name is one day etched among those on the prestigious alumni list, but for now they are satisfied with their summer full of baseball memories on the peninsula in Massachusetts that is located about an hour and a half outside of Boston.
ASU sophomore outfielder Hunter Bishop achieved CCBL royalty this past summer, winning the league championship with his team, the Brewster Whitecaps, and taking home Co-MVP of the championship series.
“It was pretty special — that was cool — but winning the championship alone was probably one of the best baseball experiences I have ever had,” Bishop said. “Just being there and being with those guys from different schools — East, West, North, South — they are all great and I made some new friends and learned a lot.”
While Bishop was forced to meet elite players from all across the country, he did experience a sense of comfort when he was paired with the same host family as junior left-handed pitcher Connor Higgins, a fellow Sun Devil.
Higgins reached his summer innings limit after about a month of action and didn’t get the opportunity to play in the championship series with the Whitecaps, but he did take home CCBL Pitcher of the Week during the first series of the season.
“I feel like ASU was represented pretty well out there,” Higgins said. “I think me and Hunter held it down pretty well out in Brewster.”
Living together in close quarters where they initially didn’t know many other people helped strengthen an already-established friendship between Bishop and Higgins.
“It made it a lot more comfortable,” Bishop said. “I got there and I had no clue who the people were that I was living with. Next thing I know it was Connor laying in the bed next to me, so it was so much fun.”
“Me and Hunter lived in a room maybe me and you apart, and we lived with three kids who were 10, eight, and six (years old), two dogs, and a mom and dad,” Higgins added.
Bishop and Higgins were not the only Sun Devils who enjoyed a successful summer. Sophomore left-hander Spencer Van Scoyoc put up a 3.11 ERA in 26 innings (six starts) with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox against the tough competition.
Van Scoyoc was especially enamored by the atmosphere in the Cape, considering how stark of a contrast it was from ASU and most other schools.
“It’s crazy because you are playing at these high school fields and there is not the best conditions,” Van Scoyoc said. “The players are all the best players in the nation, so the fans really get into it up there.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Fitz Stadler, who played with the Wareham Gatemen, shared a similar feeling as Van Scoyoc about what separated the CCBL from all others.
“I would say the culture around everybody and their communities, they are so invested in baseball,” Stadler said. “On Fridays and Saturdays, it is really cool to see everybody come together on a late afternoon and I don’t how to explain it but down the right-field line in Orleans, this whole hill would be filled with people.”
What appealed to Van Scoyoc about the situation was that it opened his eyes to what he can do, and if his ERA was any indication, he left in good spirits. He allowed more than one earned run just once.
Cape Cod also provided him with the chance to go off and discover himself.
“(As a pitcher) you played your one game a week, but then you’re just hanging out with the guys, meeting guys from other schools,” Van Scoyoc said. “In the bullpen we had guys from Michigan, Duke, Maryland, Stanford, all over the place, so getting to meet these people was pretty exciting.”
Sophomore catcher Lyle Lin, who had a strong first season with the Sun Devils, found himself hitting in the middle of the order for the Bourne Braves. He split time between catcher and first base and his .283 batting average nearly netted him a spot in the Cape Cod All-Star Game. He also added a home run in the playoffs, where his Braves faced off against the Whitecaps in the Championship.
“Just by hearing people who went to New England leagues or other leagues, they all want to play in the Cape,” Lin said. “So that is something (that makes me) really happy that I played in the Cape this summer.”
Although limited off days didn’t allow the Sun Devil players a ton of time to see each other, when they had the opportunity, they took advantage of it and made more memories.
“I remember one off day, I think it was the day after the All-Star Game, Hunter Bishop and I went out to Nantucket, which is an island off of the Cape,” Stadler said. “We went to visit a family friend of mine. I didn’t really see teammates often, but when I did it was really fun.”