By: Brian Melanson and Kieran Wilson
The last time the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox took the field was almost a year ago on August 8, 2022. Down in the Cape League Eastern Division Finals 1-0 to the Brewster Whitecaps, the Red Sox fought a hotly contested battle, but lost the game, 9-7, ending their season.
The two teams traded blows, with Y-D going up 4-2, before giving up five runs in the sixth inning. The Red Sox brought the game closer with a two-run home run in the bottom of the inning, cutting the deficit to 7-6. However, that was as close as they would get before surrendering two more runs the following inning.
It was an undoubtedly good season for Y-D, having reached their first Eastern Division Finals since 2019. On top of that, Field Manager Scott Pickler became the winningest manager in Cape Cod Baseball League history. However, the team had hoped to earn a chance at their first championship since 2016.
With Opening Day right around the corner, the Red Sox hope to turn the page on last year’s disappointing end to the season.
As the CCBL celebrates its 100th season, Pickler returns to lead Y-D for his 25th season. The winningest manager on The Cape, and one of the most respected men in all of community college athletics at Cypress College, looks to win his seventh championship for Y-D. The team has not won a title since their three-peat from 2014-2016.
Headlining the Opening Day lineup is All-SEC First Teamer, Hunter Hines. The Mississippi State slugger was selected as a DH in the All-SEC team after hitting 22 home runs, tied for fifth in the conference. Joining Hines following his eventual arrival to Y-D is his teammate, the ambidextrous pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje, who changes his throwing arm depending on which side of the batter’s box the hitter is in.
Also eventually joining Hines and Cijntje from the SEC are Vanderbilt’s second-baseman RJ Austin and LSU’s outfielder Paxton Kling and catcher Brady Neal. Austin is coming off a season that awarded him a Freshman All-SEC selection where he batted.257/.351/.390. Neal was selected in the 17th round of the 2022 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and will look to make an immediate impact behind the plate. Kling was the 2022 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and batted close to .300 in his 49 games for the Tigers.
Y-D is also well equipped at the hot corners with Jakob Christian at first and Mitch Voit at third. Christian was this year’s D-II player of the year to go along with his PacWest Freshman of the Year and First Team All-PacWest selections. He led the PacWest in average, OPS, slugging, runs, home runs, and RBIs, and he was second in hits and on-base percentage. Voit was a stud in his freshman year at Michigan, having been selected to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team as a relief pitcher and third baseman. He was a unanimous vote for third base.
Look for big names in the outfield, such as Western Illinois’ Nick Mitchell and ECU’s future arrival 6’6” Jacob Jenkins-Cowart. Jenkins-Cowart comes to Y-D as one of the most highly touted players in the AAC, after being named to the All-AAC First Team as a DH. Mitchell is a speedy outfielder who stole 30 bases as a freshman and has hit just under .350 in his two years of collegiate baseball.
Also, make sure to keep an eye out down the road for Stanford’s Brandon Montgomery. The 2022 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year is another two-way player joining the Red-Sox this season with success both on the bump and in right field.
Keeping with the pitchers, Georgia’s Leighton Finley was one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent pitchers and was tied for the fifth-most saves in the SEC. He was one of just three freshmen to grace the list. Eli Jones, another SEC pitcher joining the team soon from the University of South Carolina, had 27 strikeouts in six starts including 10 against Arkansas.
TCU’s Ben Abeldt, Ohio State’s Landon Beildelschies and Gavin Bruni, and Purdue’s Khal Stephen should also all be frequent names in Y-D’s rotation and bullpen.
While every team in the CCBL is susceptible to frequent fluctuations in their rosters, look for these names to make an immediate impact for the Red Sox. Y-D opens its season on Saturday, June 10, when they take on the Harwich Mariners on the road.