Summer baseball notebook: Suns, SteepleCats both on top of their leagues at midway points

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The summer wood bat baseball season in Berkshire County has hit the midpoint on the calendar. If the season were to have ended after Wednesday's games, both the Pittsfield Suns and North Adams SteepleCats would find themselves in uncharted territory.

Both teams had Wednesday off, so neither of them could fall out of first place.

Going into Thursday night's games, the Suns led the seven-team Futures League by a half-game over Brockton, a game-and-a-half over Bristol and North Shore and two games in front of Worcester. Pittsfield is currently sporting a 16-11 record. The Suns currently have at least 26 games left to play, with a couple of rainouts still unscheduled.

The SteepleCats, meanwhile, have played 19 games and lead the North Division of the NECBL with a 12-7 record. The Cats sat a half-game ahead of second-place Vermont in the NECBL's Northern Division.

For Pittsfield, the next week will give the Suns an opportunity to perhaps get a little distance between themselves and the rest of the league. Six of their next eight games will be at home. That all starts with an Independence Day game against the North Shore Navigators at 6:30 p.m.

After the homestand, the Suns will play four games on the road, including a doubleheader at Nashua. In between, the Futures League All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Wahconah Park.

Going into Wednesday's games, Brockton was 16-12, while Bristol was 14-12 and North Shore 15-13.

The Suns are 10 wins away from tying a club record with 26 victories. They won 26, but lost 37 in 2017, and were 26-27 back in 2014.

The SteepleCats, meanwhile, have 25 games remaining and will play 14 of them on the road. Two of their 11 home games will be Thursday and Friday at Joe Wolfe Field. It's a Fourth of July game against second-place Vermont and a Friday game against Ocean State.

North Adams will have two, three-game road trips over the final month of the season and will play its final two games on the road.

The SteepleCats are one win away from equaling last year's 13-win mark. Only once in the last six years, in 2016, has the NECBL team finished above .500. That year was also the last time the SteepleCats made the playoffs.

Behind North Adams and Vermont, Keene was 10-7 and a game back, while Upper Valley is also a game behind, but is 11-8.

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The Futures League has players of the night and players of the week. This season, the league has also established a team of the month. Two members of the Suns are on the inaugural team of the month.

Catcher Jackson Petersen and outfielder Mark Coley are the two Suns on the list.

Petersen is second in the FCBL with six home runs, and is second in the league with 23 runs batted in. He trails Brockton's Mitch Donofrio by one home run and one RBI.

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Coley, who splits time between second base and the outfield, has hit five home runs and is tied for sixth in the league with 17 RBI. His top game came on June 11, when he had a triple, two home runs and five RBI.

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SteepleCats outfielder Scout Knotts is fifth in the NECBL with a .368 batting average. Knotts is second on the team in hitting behind Adams' Matt Koperniak, who has a .410 average. However, Koperniak has only played in 13 games, and has not had enough at-bats to qualify among the league leaders.

Two North Adams pitchers, Nick Payero and Gordon Graceffo, are tied for second in the league with three wins each. Payero is second in the NECBL with a 1.13 earned-run average, trailing only Alec Huertas of Vermont who has a 0.53 ERA.

Graceffo has 24 strikeouts, good for seventh in the league. His teammate Mason Ronan is tied for second with 30 punchouts, one behind Mystic's Trey McLoughlin.

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Pittsfield's Drew DeMartino is leading the NECBL's Sanford Mainers in almost every offensive category.

The infielder from the University of Hartford by way of Taconic High School leads his team with a .387 batting average, which is good for fourth in the league.

DeMartino also leads the Mainers with three home runs and 17 RBI. He is 29 for 75, with 10 doubles and a triple to go with his three homers.

In Wednesday's rain-shortened 7-6 win over Upper Valley, DeMartino was 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

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Cade Cavalli, who pitched for the Pittsfield Suns in 2017, is a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate All-Star Team.

Cavalli, who just finished his sophomore season at the University of Oklahoma, pitched two scoreless innings in an exhibition game earlier in the week.

The Collegiate All-Stars are in the middle of a series against a team of Cuban All-Stars.

A rising junior from Bixby, Okla., Cavalli went 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA and batted .319 with 11 extra base hits during his sophomore campaign with the Sooners. He struck out 59 batters and allowed a team-low 23 runs in 60.1 innings across 12 starts as OU's primary Friday night starter. At the plate, he drove 17 RBIs and scored 16 runs while knocking four home runs, five doubles and two triples in 72 at bats.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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