It might've taken a month or so of play, but Blake Butera is finally finding his footing within the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Butera went 8-for-15 for the Chatham Anglers last week, scoring six runs and producing a monster 4-for-5 game in a walk-off win against the Brewster Whitecaps. It was the breakout performance for the Boston College junior that helped his team to eight wins in their last ten games, including a five game winning streak. Chatham sits atop the eastern division at a league best 15-8-1, five points ahead of the Harwich Mariners.
Butera had a pinch hit double and later scored to help the Anglers to a July 4th 7-2 win over Orleans. Inserted back into the starting lineup, he proceeded to go 2-for-5 with two runs scored against Wareham on July 5th and 1-for-4 with a run scored against Harwich on the 6th before putting up his monster numbers against Brewster. Butera scored the walk-off run against the Whitecaps when Landon Lassiter of North Carolina sent a 2-1 pitch in the bottom of the ninth into right field.
The performance helped boost Butera's stats, which struggled a bit before that point. Heading into the July 4th game, he stood below the Mendoza line at .196 with an on-base percentage under .300. Following the Brewster game, he was up to .273 with a .351 OBP. And although he's leveled off to .247, he still has a .345 OBP despite going 0-for-4 and 0-for-3 in back-to-back games against Yarmouth-Dennis.
Unfortunately, though, that's pretty much it for good news in this week's update. Checking in with some different names from the team has led a revelation that there are some pretty bleak updates. It really wasn't supposed to go this way. Honest. Swear to God.
Gabriel Hernandez (Nashua Silver Knights, Futures Collegiate Baseball League)
Hernandez is hitting .132 this summer in the FCBL. He has only five hits in 38 at-bats over 18 games and hasn't played since July 10th. Looking into it, it doesn't look like he's off the roster or injured. It just looks like he's on the bench. Hernandez finished with a .211 batting average during the collegiate season, which doesn't sound like much until you factor that only six of nine regular starters actually were over the .200 mark. He's maybe not the best hitter, but there's potential in there, and he ended up starting 42 games as a freshman. The fact that he's on the bench in the FCBL probably isn't the best thing, assuming once again that he's not injured.
Tom Bourdon (Lexington Blue Sox, Intercity League)
I used to go to Intercity League games about 20 years ago when cable had like 10 stations, two of which were C-SPAN and CNN and two more of which were owned by Ted Turner. It's like a senior beer league for guys who just want to play. The compete level of the games are pretty good; the talent level occasionally leaves something to be desired, and it's nowhere near some of the other leagues. It's not somewhere where a senior captain and leader of an ACC baseball team wants to play, even if he's rehabbing an injury (which I don't think Bourdon is). On top of all of that, Bourdon's hitting .192 in the league in just seven games. Last summer, he played for Chatham in the Cape League and hit .238. The fact that this summer he's in the Intercity League is troublesome. If anyone can explain this, I'm all ears.
John Nicklas (Sag Harbor Whalers, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League)
Just because the last two updates were kind of depressing doesn't mean we can't throw some good news at you. Nicklas has won three straight appearances, going 3-1 in his last four games. In nine games this year, he's started six, and he's going deeper into starts. His loss on June 15th was a shellacking at the hands of Shelter Island, and he only lasted just over five innings. But he's gone 7.0, 7.0, and 6.0 since then. A spot of concern is the fact that he's still giving up runs; in those outings, he's given up 4, 3, and 4 earned runs, and his season ERA ballooned to 3.89 over that same time period. Before he started getting decisions, he was 0-0 with a 0.64 ERA and only one run allowed in five appearances. But since BC only had two pitchers last year with ERAs under 4.00, as long as he's able to control the damage, it's not a huge concern. He does have 34 strikeouts in 39.1 IP this season while walking only 12.