No surprises as NECBL ratchets up
The North Adams SteepleCats will have played two weeks worth of games, 14 of them, after Friday's home game against Vermont.
North Adams general manager Jonah Bayliss, who doubles as the SteepleCats' pitching coach, said that there have been no surprises so far.
"Nothing," he said. "I think that's what you get with a highly competitive league."
Going into Friday's game, North Adams was 7-6 and 1 1/2 games behind North Division leader Keene. Only three games separated the top six teams in the North Division.
"There aren't going to be any surprises. If there is a guy hitting really well or a guy pitching really well, it's never a surprise because you know the talent pool here is capable of that," said Bayliss. "Everybody is off to great starts.
"There aren't too many corners that you walk around in this league and it catches you off guard."
Bayliss is in his second season as the SteepleCats GM and in that role, helps procure the players in black and gold. That's why he hasn't been caught off guard by what the players on his team, and by extension those in the rest of the NECBL, are doing.
"These summer leagues, you don't always know what you're going to get," he said. "The same holds true for me as it does for every other GM in the league. You watch these guys in their college seasons and you follow them, good or bad, they have an opportunity in the summer to either continue a great college season or to turn around a poor one.
"You see that a lot. You see guys come in here with let's say less-than-substantial college seasons, and that fires them — it puts a fire in their bellies."
It was old home week at McKenzie Stadium Thursday night as three members of the Valley Blue Sox once called Pittsfield home.
Cam O'Neill and Tyler Lein both played for the Pittsfield Suns last summer.
O'Neill was the designated hitter in Thursday's 2-1 win and scored the winning run. Lein did not play.
Valley's hitting coach is Peter Fatse, who played for the Pittsfield Colonials of the Can-Am League in 2011.
The Suns came into Friday's game 3 1/2 games behind West Division-Leading Worcester, but only a game behind Friday's foe Bristol. Pittsfield will have an opportunity to make a move in the standings soon.
Friday's game was the first of 10 home games in 14 days.
After Friday's game, the Suns don't return until Tuesday when they host Seacoast. They'll play Wachusett and Martha's Vineyard before going back on the road.
When the Sharks visit next week, the team might bring along general manager Shana Metzger. Metzger is a Taconic graduate and the daughter of Alan and Margery Metzger of Pittsfield.
Hunter Golden, the general manager of the Valley Blue Sox, came to his general managership via the media. He got his start in journalism as an intern in the sports department at The Berkshire Eagle.
The website Collegiatesummerbaseball.com has ranked the top 35 teams in summer league play. Three of the top five belong to the Cape Cod League. The Harwich Mariners are No. 1, the Bourne Braves are third and the Orleans Firebirds are fourth.
The top team from any of the local leagues is the Ocean State Waves of the NECBL, ranked sixth. The Keene Swamp Bats are ranked 27th.
From the Futures League, the Worcester Bravehearts are ranked 22nd, while the Seacoast Mavericks are 33rd.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.
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