Mother Nature Forces Unexpected Tie between Waltham Cutters and Singing Surgeons

Saturday’s matchup between the Waltham Cutters (8-3-1) and Singing Surgeons (4-7-1) began under partly cloudy skies, but the weather gradually got worse. It started with a small sprinkle but quickly became a steady downpour in the bottom of the fourth with occasional lightning flashing across the sky. The umpires called the game off in the top of the fifth inning citing concern for player safety and the game ended in a 4-4 tie.

In fact, four of the five games in the Boston Men’s Baseball League 18+ division were postponed this past weekend due to inclement weather. 

On Saturday, the Cutters’ offense finished with just three hits but when faced with a chance to knock in runners in scoring position, they pounced on the opportunity. Third baseman Brett Fundell launched a 2-run double in the top of the first, while All-Star first baseman Dan Wilson added an RBI single two innings later. Both Fundell and Wilson accounted for three of the seven base runners for Waltham in this contest. Additionally, they added their final run on a balk by Surgeons’ starter Zeke Golnick, scoring second baseman Tim Vardais in the third inning.

“Our plan was to be aggressive at the plate and swing early in the count (expecting fastballs),” said Wilson. “We stole 3 bases during the game to get guys in scoring position knowing it would be tough for the catcher to make an accurate throw.” 

The Waltham Cutters currently sit atop of the South division but are currently just one point behind in the standings behind the Merrimack Valley Marlins (8-3). They have outscored their opponents 52-33 this season. Offensively, they are led by Dan Wilson and center fielder Adam Anderson who combined for 22 hits and 14 RBIs.  

The Surgeons scored all their runs without base hits, using two sacrifice flies in the first inning and third innings and two fourth-inning wild pitches to pull even. The two wild pitches in the fourth inning were crucial because they occurred as the rain began to intensify and nobody was certain how long the game would last. 

“It didn’t appear as if the weather affected things for my club,” said Surgeons’ DH Steve Pinner. “I remember toward the end telling one of the players to be ready to take an extra-base because the opponent had to pick up a wet baseball to throw.  We saw this with the increase in wild pitches as the game progressed.”

Sitting at 4-7-1, the Surgeons will look to earn their first win since June 26 when these two teams next meet again on July 22. On the mound, their rotation is led by Jack Stockless, who has started the season with a 3-1 record, a 2.95 ERA, and 14 strikeouts on his way to being named to the MABL 18+ All-Star team. Stockless leads the staff in wins and strikeouts. All-Star center fielder Peter Blunt added two more hits, helping take over the team lead in hits with 10. 

“Top to bottom they were making solid contact and spraying the ball all over the field,” said Cutters All-Star RF Ryan Fleming. “Even the plays we were making were on hard-hit line drives or sharp grounders.” 

Both teams are set to face off again on July 22 and 24. Waltham defeated the Surgeons in their first matchup this season, 10-5 on June 5. 

Middleboro Mocka Rays Continue to Defend their Crown

The defending champion Middleboro Mocka Rays (12-1) continued to prove why they are the best team in the Boston Men’s Baseball League 18+ Division with back-to-back wins against the Waltham Cutters (7-3) and Singing Surgeons (4-5). Their contest on June 24 against Waltham was considered the biggest matchup of the season, because both teams were division leaders, owned the two best records in the league and featured high scoring offenses; however, it was Middleboro’s offense came out firing early and they never looked back. 

Middleboro’s offense wasted no time striking first with a four run first inning, which saw nine of 10 hitters bat in the inning and they collected five singles along the way. After the Cutters answered with their only run in the bottom of the third, the Mocka Rays blew the game wide open with a six run fourth inning.

DH Mike Knell and manager/shortstop Tyler Ferdinand combined for five hits and five RBIs to pace the offense. This was on a night where the team drove in nine two-out runs. Combine that with a complete game three hitter from starter Andrew Millard and you have the formula for how they pulled off a 10-1 victory over Waltham. 

When asked about what the key to his big night was Knell said, “Hitting it where it was pitched and not trying to do too much with it.” 

“The key was guys who you know normally are not out there, because we were a couple of guys missing, just coming in and doing their job when they are called on,” said Ferdinand. 

This offense finished with 19 total baserunners and kept the pressure on Waltham all night to keep pace. The Mocka Rays have been an offensive powerhouse all season, outscoring their opponents 113-35. Knell has been clutch for his team all season long, leading the team in both hits (16) and RBIs (19). This kind of production is one of the main reasons why Middleboro leads the league in both runs scored and hits (136). 

Photo courtesy Mike Knell

“Every day it seems like it’s somebody different,” said Knell. “We had like three or four starters out today and that’s what happens. Just the next man up. Just like Belichick’s philosophy.” 

During the pandemic shortened season in 2020, they used a similar formula, outscoring their opponents 103-38 in the regular season in route to an 8-1 record and the top seed in the playoffs. During the playoffs, opponents closed the gap a little, but Middleboro still ended up outscoring teams 52-29 to secure the league title. They finished the postseason with a 7-2 record

“The Rays continue to play excellent ball coming off their championship run in 2020,” said Jeff Coveney, President of the Boston Men’s Baseball League and Waltham Cutters manager. “They are a solid all-around team that brings a very powerful offense.” 

As for their pitching, head coach Tyler Ferdinand has the luxury to turn to seven pitchers with ERAs below 2.00. Andrew Millard leads the staff in innings pitched (23) and strikeouts (17). Justin Sylvia and Nick Radcliffe have the most wins in the rotation combined 4-0 on the season. As a staff, they have held their opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of 13 contests this season. However, with their offense scoring 10+ runs in 5 games, including twice with 20+ runs, they are not required to be perfect every night. 

“(Millard) is a worker and a grinder. He seems to bear down when guys get into scoring position and with men on base,” said Knell. 

The Mocka Rays will look to win their sixth straight game when they host the Boston Jakes on July 11 at 4 pm from Pierce Playground in Middleboro. A rematch between Waltham and Middleboro is schedule to take place on August 5 at 8 pm.