Once again baseball on Cape Ann has been powerful in 2012. Gloucester and Rockport are rolling along this spring and appear to be postseason bound while Manchester Essex has improved drastically putting a scare into several teams that usually have no trouble beating the Hornets.
Here's a look at where each team stands, how they got there and where they go from here.
Highlights: Gloucester has been winning games on pitching and defense this spring. Across the diamond the Fishermen have players that make all the routine plays, and even make some plays they shouldn't make look routine.
While the defense has been stellar, the Fishermen have been led by a strong and deep pitching staff. Crafty south paws Jason Vizena and Lenny Toarmina along with solid right hander Sean Gillon, all juniors, have combined to form a deadly 1-2-3 punch in the starting rotation.
Heading into the season head coach Joe Orlando knew what he had in Vizena, who had some varsity experience as a Sophomore, the question was who was going to fill in the next two spots. Fortunately for Orlando and the Fishermen Gillon and Taormina not only filled those two spots, but have thrived in them turning the Fishermen pitching staff from a group of unknowns to a feared unit in no time.
To top it all off senior Ben Favazza and Sophomore Peter Clark have given Gloucester something rare, a formidable and trustworthy bullpen.
Lowlights: It's not that Gloucester is a weak hitting club, in fact they are just the opposite. However, in all of Gloucester's defeats its bats have been silenced by good pitching.
What's to come: It's not a matter of which games are important for Gloucester on its remaining schedule, it's a matter of which ones aren't important. The Fishermen still have to play each Northeastern Conference small team again starting Monday against Marblehead (4:00 p.m., Nate Ross Field). Gloucester put up a 3-2 record against the NEC Small the first time around and will get a chance to avenge losses against Swampscott and Danvers.
Gloucester looks to be heading to the state tournament for the eighth straight year under Orlando and the ninth straight year overall, and its deep pitching staff makes them a team to be feared in the postseason.
Highlights: The Vikings have pretty much wrapped up a playoff spot and the Cape Ann League Division 3 title with a win over Manchester Essex and a pair of wins over Georgetown meaning they will be heading to the state tournament again.
Junior right hander Tucker Meredith has been a force on the mound compiling a 5-1 record on the year, he has also been a staple in the middle of the Vikings order. Junior Mike Tupper has done just about everything for Rockport this season, pitching, strong defense at shortstop and one of the team's best bats.
Rockport's lineup is solid from top to bottom and they have a bona fide ace making them dangerous against any team in Division 4.
Lowlights: The Vikings record currently stands at 6-4, and Meredith has picked up five of those wins. Rockport needs another starter to emerge come postseason time.
What's to come: The Vikings are finishing up the Cape Ann League schedule meaning there are several challenges remaining on the schedule such as North Reading and Pentucket. The good news for the Vikings is that they are tournament bound and will be more battle tested than any team in Division 4 when they get there. They are a team to watch in Division 4 and may even be one of the favorites in the section.
Highlights: A senior laden Hornets squad has improved drastically this season. Max Nesbit, Adrian Frattini and Joe Burgess have formed a solid starting pitching rotation while the Manchester Essex lineup has been serviceable from top to bottom. Burgess has been a jack of all trades for the Hornets as one of its leading hitters, starting shortstop and member of the starting rotation. Nesbit has established himself as a legitimate ace while teammates Matt Corwin and Jon Browning have given the team an offensive spark.
Lowlights: Suspect defense has hurt the Hornets at times, particularly in an early season loss to Georgetown that could have had tournament implications.
What's to come: At 4-7 Manchester Essex is in a furious fight for the postseason. Head coach Bob Garrett's squad still has to face some difficult Cape Ann League foes such as Triton, North Reading, Hamilton-Wenham and Georgetown. A tournament berth may be a long shot but given this team's improvements it's absolutely not out of the question.