By: Greg Levinsky
FALMOUTH – Ahead of the second and final game of the Falmouth Commodores West Division semifinal series against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks on Tuesday, the Commodores organization was presented with three awards from the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Duke rising junior Adam Laskey earned the P.F.C. Whitehouse Award as the league’s most outstanding pitcher, Stanford rising junior and catcher Maverick Handley was named the Silva Sportsmanship Award winner, and the Commodores organization earned the Commissioner’s Cup as the league’s most outstanding franchise.
The Commodores earned consecutive Commissioner’s Cups in the final two years of general manager Eric Zmuda’s tenure. Zmuda will assume a leadership position for the 2019 Cape League campaign.
“It gives you tremendous pride because you see the effort that the team and organization puts in year round,” Zmuda said. “To have it be recognized by the league is satisfying and very humbling.”
Laskey had a league-best 5 wins, and collected a 1.18 ERA across 30.1 innings. He tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless relief in his debut, and started in his final five regular season appearances in which he made four starts of at least five innings pitched and surrendered less than one earned run.
His battery mate, Handley batted .252 in the regular season with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He also had a team-best 11 stolen bases.
The duo combined for 13.1 innings and allowed two earned runs for a 1.35 ERA. Laskey struck out 12 with Handley as his catcher.
“Smart guys,” Handley joked. “He goes to Duke, I go to Stanford. It feels like a different type of ball player and we connect over that.”
Laskey’s best start of the summer came with Handley as his catcher in an 8-1 win at Cotuit on July 15. Laskey pitched six shutout innings and struck out eight and ceded just four baserunners on three walks and one hit.
Zmuda said each summer players come in and “reinvent” themselves, and Laskey was the 2018 edition. He had a 5.47 ERA this past spring in his sophomore campaign, but came in and demonstrated sheer dominance all summer.
“It’s been exemplified with him coming in with a clean slate, being able to do his work on a daily basis,” Zmuda said. “It’s just been proven game in and game out when he’s on the mound.”
Handley has a pair of game-winning hits on the summer including an 11th inning home run at Chatham and a walk-off double at home. His timely hitting along with stellar game-calling earned him a spot as the Commodores de facto catcher.
An award picked by the league’s umpires, Zmuda earned extra appreciation for his catcher.
“That means that they see the effort [Handley] puts in not only to the game, but to the very consideration he has for the people and players around him,” Zmuda said. “I’m grateful that we have a player like that in our organization.”
Handley said it was “pretty cool” to be chosen by the league’s umpires.
“I was honored to be picked by the umpires,” Handley said. “The first couple games I got a little out of hand and made the adjustment to talk to them a little bit kinder. They’re doing the best they can, at the day you’re working with them and trying to call the best game as possible.”
With awards in hand, the Commodores look to take down the Wareham Gatemen in the West Division finals. The first game begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday August 8 at Spillane Field in Wareham.
Handley will catch Laskey.
“In the playoffs, especially in summer ball, it’s about who wants to be here,” Handley said. “Not a lot of guys want to go home, and I think at the end of the day that’s what might push us over some other teams.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky