The Bourne Braves will be represented at the 2016 Cape Cod All-Star game by seven standout players on Harvey Shapiro’s roster. Three of which will be in the starting lineup for the West Division.
Houston’s Connor Wong, Justin Yurchak (Binghamton) and Jake Mangum (Mississippi State) will take the field as the starting catcher, first baseman and right fielder respectively.
Wong has been a dynamic player for the Braves, playing the outfield, catching and the designated hitter to keep his hot bat in the lineup. With the third highest batting average on the team at .304, he has the most doubles on the team with eight and is tied for first with Willy Yahn (UConn) in extra base hits.
Leading the team in batting average, Yurchak has shown his strong sense of the strike zone with a team-leading 18 walks. Yurchak went through a slight dip in the past week at the plate, going 0 for 20 at one point, but has been hitting the ball well to all parts of the field as of late and has gone 8 for 19 in the last week; finishing Saturday night’s game with a walk-off single to center in an 11-inning win.
“I just think I was getting myself in bad counts and bad at-bat situations,” Yurchak said. “I’ve tried to be more aggressive recently and get myself in better counts.”
Yurchak has done just that as he continued to hit for average and show some power in his last game against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, where he went 3 for 4 with two singles and a home run.
SEC Freshman of the Year Mangum rounds out the starting players for the Braves, who has been a threat on the base paths and has used his speed to beat out close plays at first and put pressure on the opposing defense.
“It’s an awesome experience and I am just excited to go through it with a bunch of these guys, [I am going to] play hard and see how it works out,” Mangum said about the All-Star game.
Mangum leads the team with eight stolen bases and owns the second highest batting average at .315. He, like Yurchak, is no stranger to being at the top in offense, leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs in batting average at an impressive .408 as a true freshman.
Third baseman Yahn who has been a vacuum cleaner at the hot corner, will be a reserve along with pitchers Tony Dibrell (Kennesaw State,) Brady Miller (Western Oregon) and Andrew Wantz (UNC Greensboro.)
Yahn has continued to make highlight reel plays at third with his most iconic being his running bare-handed grab to eliminate base-hit bunts to the left side of the infield.
“It’s a lot of fun to be able to represent the Braves and the University of Connecticut, and appreciate the opportunity,” Yahn said. “[The season] has gone well, I’ve moved up and down the order, wherever I am in the order I’ve just tried to get on base and touch home plate and help the team win.”
Although his defense is slightly ahead of his offense, Yahn has gone 7 for 19 in the past week and ranks at the top of the team in extra base hits with eight.
Pitchers Dibrell, Miller and Wantz have posted a combined 57 1-3 innings, giving up a total of 12 earned runs. All three are in the top six in lowest ERA and have given Bourne opportunities to stay in tight-scoring games with little run production.
“I just think it’s a huge honor to be in Cape Cod League history and to make the All-Star game,” Dibrell said. “I think my [season on the Cape] has gone well. I’ve allowed our team to win a few games and kept the other team from scoring.”
In addition to the game, the Braves will be one of three teams of the West to be represented in the home run derby by Florida’s Danny Reyes, who has hit one home run in his nine games on the Cape.
Head coach Shapiro will round out the Braves representation as one of the five coaches to manage the West. The home run derby is at 5, with the game starting at 6:05, Saturday, July 23 at the Chatham Angler’s Veterans Field.