By Ben Strober
The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox opened the season with two-straight losses, and offensively, they appeared stagnant.
In the eighth inning of the Red Sox’s battle with Cotuit, their offensive switch flipped. Y-D strung together five hits and six runs, nearly overcoming a seven-run deficit.
Although the hole that night was too large to overcome, that inning’s success carried over.
The Red Sox have won two straight, and their offense skyrocketed to the league’s best through four games. However, major roster turnover looms.
Field manager Scott Pickler said the team expects more than a handful of players to head to The Cape soon once their collegiate season concludes. With that, it leaves Pickler with many challenging decisions to make.
“I don’t care when in the season it happens, that’s the hardest and worst thing about my job,” Pickler said. “It’s so tough on our staff to decide who we have to release because these are all great players.”
It’s kind of just how summer ball works; many players aren’t available until mid-June because of their tournaments, so coaches resort to temporary players.
While Y-D’s roster features plenty of temps, they certainly aren’t making this decision for Pickler any easier with how they’re swinging.
The Red Sox swung their way to a convincing 14-6 win over Falmouth, which featured 16 hits and a seven-run eighth.
Yarmouth’s offensive totals headline the top of almost every category, including hits, runs, and total bases.
“They get more and more comfortable with every at-bat,” Pickler said. “I loved the way we’ve taken our approach recently.”
Bowling Green’s Nathan Archer has been scorching at the plate recently. His .533 average, 8 hits and 2 homers is the best in the league.
Archer’s five RBIs all came in the past two games, and have helped the Red Sox find their stride.
“Now that we’ve got that bit of confidence, we can relax more,” Archer said.
Archer’s success is evident, but it can’t distract Pickler from the contributions made by others, such as Max Viera, Jack Goodman, Will King and Brady Day.
“I don’t treat any of my players differently than one another,” Pickler said. “I teach them all whatever I feel they need and help them improve.”
Hunter Hines’ name came as an intriguing one coming from Mississippi State. His 22 home runs in the spring earned him First-Team All-SEC honors.
Hines hadn’t gotten comfortable in his first two games, going hitless. Games three and four revealed Hines’ true offensive talent.
Hines has two straight multi-hit games, and his clutch go-ahead shot against Brewster proved as a momentum-shifting moment.
Pitching has shown its highs and lows, as control lacked in the first couple of games.
The Red Sox staff put seven on base against Harwich and another 10 in their battle with Cotuit. Ultimately, the free passes handed out haunted them as teams broke off big innings.
The offensive resurgence, however, prompted improvement in the pitching.
Yarmouth-Dennis only issued one walk in its win over Falmouth last night.
“Usually, it takes time for the pitchers to throw strikes and for me to learn what these pitchers got,” Pickler said. “There’s a lot of things that go into this, but I’m really proud of them.”
Picker said they expect more position players on the way than pitchers, but not every pitcher will survive the roster turnover.
Errors have plagued Y-D in these first few games, especially in game number one, which saw three errors lead to the loss.
Additionally, two eighth-inning errors against Brewster allowed them to tie the game before Hines bailed the Red Sox out later.
“In the first few games, we gave them momentum with our mental errors,” Pickler said.
Y-D made another two errors in Falmouth, but the offense and pitching sufficed through it.
“We still have some work to do on those mistakes,” Pickler said.
With all these things in consideration, time is ticking on Pickler and the temporary players.
“These guys knew that they’re temps and some of them will stay, but some will have to go, which makes this really tough,” Pickler said.
Pickler said his goal with all his players is to ensure they get the most out of the time with him, although short.
While Pickler is faced with the stressful decisions of who to keep, the incoming talent becomes a reason for excitement.
“I’m bringing in the right guys,” Pickler said. “I know what kind of players we are getting.”
Pickler knows another transitional period looms, and that the team’s upward momentum may shift, but he’s confident the new players will adjust quickly.
In the meantime, Yarmouth-Dennis aims to continue its streak with the current group at hand.