Illini catcher Adam Davis has had a breakout summer with the Madison Mallards.
Aug. 13, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The 21 Illinois baseball players who competed in summer leagues this year proved to be great assets to their squads, as Illini players showcased their abilities in stadiums across the country this summer. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the Northwoods League, where five Illini currently are in the final stages of a playoff chase.
First baseman Matt Dittman's Rochester Honkers currently sit in third place in the NWL's North Division, but they already have a playoff berth locked up after winning the North Division in the first half of the season. Pete Cappetta and the Duluth Huskies still have a glimmer of hope, standing 2.5 games behind co-leaders Willmar and St. Cloud in the North with four games remaining. In the South Division, the Madison Mallards are two games out of a playoff berth despite being 4.5 games behind division leader Eau Claire because of the fact that the Express won the first-half division title. If Eau Claire wins the second-half championship, the second-place team will earn a playoff berth. Madison currently stands two games behind the second-place Wisconsin Woodchucks. The NWL regular season ends on Monday, Aug. 16, with playoffs being played Aug. 17-22.
Dittman is having quite the summer in Rochester, ranking sixth in the NWL with a .330 average, third in on-base percentage (.463), sixth in doubles (17) and 10th in RBIs (37). Catcher Adam Davis has had a breakout campaign with the Mallards, ranking second in the league in slugging percentage (.540), fourth in doubles (19), seventh in RBIs (40) and eighth in average (.326). He also has stolen 12-of-12 bases and has played in 61 games. Fellow Mallard Josh Parr has excelled as well, ranking fourth in the NWL in hits (77) and 10th in both doubles (16) and stolen bases (21-of-29). Parr's brother, Justin, who will join the Illini when they report to campus, signed with the Mallards on July 27 and has hit .320 in nine games. Cappetta hasn't found consistency in his second season with the Huskies, hitting .235 in 44 games, but has flashed some power with six doubles, a triple and two homers in 136 at bats.
Elsewhere in the NWL, Willie Argo has heated up toward the end of the season after a late start to his summer, going 9-for-25 (.360) in his last six games. Argo joined the Waterloo Bucks on June 30 after recovering from wrist surgery following Illinois' 2010 campaign and is hitting .234 with nine RBIs and 14 runs in 107 at bats over 31 games. He also has stolen 11-of-12 bases. Also in Waterloo, pitcher Billy Barrett has had a strong summer after joining the Bucks as a conditional player and earning a roster spot. Barrett is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA and a .221 opponent batting average, allowing 36 hits and 24 walks in 45 1/3 innings while striking out 26. He has started six games and finished five among his 14 appearances. Will Strack also has seen some action for the Bucks, going 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings, allowing 17 hits and 20 walks with 17 strikeouts and a .210 opponent average.
Pitcher Corey Kimes blossomed this summer as he led the Springfield Silders through a playoff chase down the stretch. The Sliders won the Prospect League's Western Division second-half title but lost a one-game playoff to the Quincy Gems for the right to advance to the championship round of the playoffs. Kimes shone down the stretch for Springfield, though, going 4-1 in his five starts on the season - all of which came on July 15 or later - with a stellar 1.56 ERA. He tied for the league lead with three complete games and posted a 2.64 ERA, which ranked fourth in the league. He finished the year 5-1, allowing 42 hits and 16 walks in 47 2/3 innings with 38 strikeouts. He also earned Prospect League Pitcher of the Week honors after striking out 10 in a complete-game effort against Hannibal on July 21.
Also in the Prospect League, outfielder Davis Hendrickson finished the season with a .259 average and was 8-for-13 stealing bases for Springfield. Pitchers Kevin Johnson and Brian de la Torriente played for the DuPage Dragons and had good first halves of the season before struggling down the stretch. Johnson finished 1-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 56 2/3 innings of work, allowing 62 hits and 27 walks while striking out 52, second-most in the Prospect League. De la Torriente was 3-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 56 2/3 innings, giving up 59 hits and 26 walks with 32 strikeouts. Outfielder Pat Sheehan was 4-for-33 (.121) in limited action for the Hannibal Cavemen during the summer.
Another pair of Illini who helped their team advance to the postseason was pitcher Tanner Libby and infielder Bill Charvat. The duo helped the Lake Erie Monarchs to the All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) World Series, where they knocked off the defending champs in their opening game and finished 2-2 in the event. Libby's highlight was pitching a complete game in the consolation quarterfinal game on Wednesday, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven. Complete season statistics were not available for the Monarchs.
Illini pitcher Matt Milroy gained valuable experience during a trying summer in Fayetteville, N.C., where injuries knocked the SwampDogs out of postseason contention as the squad lost its final 11 games of the year to end the season 21-32. But Milroy made the most of extensive work out of the bullpen in Fayetteville, going 0-2 with a 3.79 ERA in 19 appearances and two starts. He notched two saves in 40 1/3 innings of work, allowing 30 hits and 37 walks with 41 strikeouts and a.208 opponent average. He also hit .240 in 25 at bats while seeing time in the outfield in 15 games.
Pitcher John Anderson led the Derby Twins of the Jayhawk League on the mound, pitching a team-high 56 innings and going 5-5 with a 3.05 ERA over 11 appearances with seven starts and two complete games. He allowed 51 hits and 18 walks with 47 strikeouts and a .244 opponent average. In the Chicago Suburban Baseball League, outfielder Doug Schumacher hit .244 with 18 RBIs in 78 at bats while racking up a .416 on-base percentage.
Pitcher Wes Braun had a solid summer in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, going 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 11 games of relief for the Albany Dutchmen. Braun allowed 14 hits and 14 walks in 15 1/3 innings while striking out 14 and posting a .237 opponent average. In the Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, catcher Matt Cervantes hit .128 (5-for-39) while playing 16 games for the Laramie Colts.