2004 Hyannis Mets Year-in-review
Earning their second straight postseason berth in 2004 and their third trip to the playoffs in five years, the Hyannis Mets again proved themselves to be one of the top franchises in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Under first-year head coach Greg King, the 2004 Mets brought a brand of exciting and classy baseball to Mets fans at McKeon Park, securing the second-place spot in the Western Division on the season's final day with a record of 21-22-1. Though they fell to the Falmouth Commodores in a tight three-game series, the Mets turned heads up and down the Cape with their dangerous hitting, brilliant pitching, and impressive resilience.
Two players managed to keep the Mets afloat during this stretch: Mike Costanzo (Coastal Carolina), Hyannis's representative in the Home Run Hitting Contest who slapped four of his team-best six homers after the break; and Mike Costantino (Maryland), who hit in seven of eight games after replacing injured Mets veteran Justin Tordi (Florida) at shortstop.
But as the two other playoff contenders in the West -- Wareham and Cotuit -- continued to struggle, the rights to the second berth came down to the final three games of the season, two of which were played in a doubleheader in Hyannis on August 7th. Hyannis won the early game against Wareham to eliminate the Gatemen from consideration, but a loss to Falmouth in the second contest set up an all-in match between the Kettleers and the Mets to be played at McKeon Park the next day.
With a capacity crowd on hand, Cotuit led much of the way until the eighth inning, when Costanzo belted a two-run homer to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. He moved from first base to the mound in an unsuccessful attempt to save the game, but he came up clutch as the game went into extra innings. He pitched a scoreless 10th and doubled in the bottom of the frame, putting himself in position to score on a base hit by Tulane's Joe Holland. The victory clinched postseason play for Hyannis as well as the first Barnstable Patriot Cup, awarded to the winner of the season series between the crosstown Mets and Kettleers.
In Game 1 of the Western Division Playoffs at Falmouth, four Hyannis home runs were not enough to outpace the high-powered Commodores, who came away with an 8-6 win. Game 2 saw Costanzo wield his dramatic bat once again, as the second of his two homers in the game gave the Mets a 6-5 victory in 11 innings to send the series back to Falmouth. But the Commodores eventually had their way at Arnie Allen Diamond, winning the decisive third game 5-2 to deny the Mets a chance at their first CCBL Championship since 1991.
With a .245 team mark, the Mets put up the best batting average in the Cape League for the first time as a franchise since 1995. Arizona junior Pat Reilly led the way with a .327 average, making him the Cape's No. 2 hitter in the second closest batting race in league history. Reilly also led the Mets with 10 stolen bases and finished second on the team with two home runs. He was named to the West All-Star team along with Chris Robinson and Shane Robinson, two (unrelated) Mets offensive spark plugs throughout the season.
Chris Robinson of Illinois and Dorchester, Ontario, winner of the league's umpire-elected Daniel J. Silva Sportsmanship Award, batted .292 with one homer and 13 RBIs. A solid defensive catcher, he threw out nearly 59% of all potential basestealers, a clip better than all but one catcher on the Cape. Florida State center fielder Shane Robinson was the top producing freshman for the Mets, batting .252 with a home run and seven steals. Versatile at the plate, he batted in seven different lineup spots during the season, including both the leadoff and cleanup positions.
All around the diamond, the Mets found healthy contributions from their everyday players. Third baseman Mike Baxter (Vanderbilt) batted .267 and was named the Cape League's player of the week for July 22nd after producing nine hits, a homer, four steals, and seven RBI. Georgia's Kyle Keen posted a .268 average while playing spotless defense in left field throughout the season.
Holland was a sure thing in 42 games at second base and a good bet at the plate, batting .266 with 24 RBIs. Right fielder Jay Miller (Washington State) batted .256 with an on-base percentage boosted all the way to .379 thanks to a team-high 22 walks. Oklahoma freshman Josh Stinson hit .250 in 24 games at catcher and designated hitter.
One of the strongest top-to-bottom pitching rotations on the Cape gave the Mets a strong edge. Three of the five starters -- Florida State sophomore Mark Sauls and Boston College juniors Mike Wlodarczyk and Joe Martinez -- represented Hyannis at the All-Star Game.
Returning to the Mets for his second season to find himself on the cover of the 2004 team yearbook, Sauls headlined the trio of staff aces, going 3-1 in seven starts with a 1.90 ERA and 38 strikeouts. Trailing just behind him in the ERA race was Wlodarczyk, who posted a 2.08 mark to go along with a perfect 4-0 record in seven starts. An early-season addition to the Hyannis roster, the tall lefty racked up 33 strikeouts and just 12 walks while surrendering zero home runs in the regular season.
The most remarkable story belongs to Martinez, who signed with the Mets as a temporary player but quickly earned a regular contract when he took the early league lead in strikeouts. He finished with a team-best 56 strikeouts in 57 innings along with a 2.74 ERA and a .203 opponents' average, but he was saddled with a hard-luck 2-5 record. He was also the best fielding pitcher in the league, perfect in 24 total chances.
Buschmann thrived through his great control, walking only 10 batters in 54 2/3 innings while striking out 39 and recording a 3.29 ERA. His season highlight on the way to a 4-3 record was a seven-strikeout, no-walk complete game against Bourne on July 9th. It was the lone complete game for a Mets staff which put up a 2.36 team earned run average, the fourth-best mark in the league.
A strong bullpen also helped the Mets to contend. Primary closer Bo Lanier (Georgia) saved five games and recorded a 0.64 ERA in 12 total appearances. Costanzo led the team in appearances, taking the ball 13 times without surrendering an earned run. He picked up four saves for the Mets while striking out 24 in just 15 2/3 innings.
Texas freshmen Randy Boone and Kyle McCulloch came to the Mets fresh from the College World Series with great success; Boone posted a 1.08 ERA in 10 games, and McCulloch fanned 28 hitters in 20 2/3 innings. Veteran lefty Graham Taylor of Miami University delivered the most dominant performance of any Mets pitcher against Chatham on August 2nd, when he struck out seven of the nine batters he faced in a perfect three-inning save.
At season's end, the 2004 Hyannis Mets could stand proud of their accomplishment-filled summer. They came within just three wins of a league title, all the while supplying their faithful with lasting memories of an electrifying club that played the game the right way. We hope you will join us in 2005 for another thrilling season of Hyannis Mets baseball!