Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vermont Lake Monsters 3 at Williamsport Crosscutters 6 (NYPL) - July 31, 2015

The town of Williamsport, PA is famous in baseball circles as the home of the Little League World Series, which takes place every August. If you approach on US15 from the south you will pass by the World of Little League Museum next to Lamade Stadium, where the big games take place. That is definitely worth a stop, but by the time I had arrived from New York, it was closed so I headed on into town to check out Williamsport’s lesser light in the baseball world, the Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League.

The Cutters play out of Bowman Field, opened in 1926 and celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, making it the second oldest minor league park in the nation (McCormick Park in Asheville is two years senior). Rather than explain, I’ll let this memorial plaque do it for me.

The stadium is now known as Susquehanna Bank Park at Historic Bowman Field after the local financial firm purchased the naming rights in 2014. The detailed history of the field is fascinating and can be found on Minor League Baseball's website.

The park is located right next to Lycoming Creek, with a free parking lot just off 4th Street. There is a preferred lot for $2 that gets you further away from the foul balls, but there are plenty of distant spots in the free area too. The only negative here is that the single exit does get crowded after the game.

General Admission tickets are $7 and you can sit on the metal benches that surround the infield. The box seats are $10 should you want to splurge. There is just the single grandstand, with much of the area along the baselines covered by protective netting. As well, you can see poles holding up the roof in the picture above, there are some seats in the benches that will have part of the field blocked by the nearest pole so you might want to get there earlier to get the best spot.

On Thursday and Fridays, there is another reason to get there when gates open: Happy Hour. Between 6 and 7, pints were 2-for-1, which means $2.50 for a beer at a ballpark! As well, water and soda is offered at the same 2-for-1 deal, and there is free popcorn. Get your hot dogs at the Patio Grille in right field, fresh off the BBQ for $2.25. Below is a shot of the Grille, Crosscutter players make their way to the locker room along here too, signing autographs along the way.

There are more food selections in the little plaza by the main entrance (below), with the most expensive item a lumberjack brisket at $6. The nickname Crosscutters is in honour of the timber heritage in the area, thus you will see lumberjack references from time to time here.

Entrance to the seating bowl is along an enclosed ramp; the one near first base includes a small Hall of Fame recognizing the contributions to the game of some local citizens.

The mascot is Boomer, a googly-eyed, bucktoothed bear (I think) who races around on a four-wheel motorcycle before the game and participates in the promotions during.

The special entertainment on this night was the Amazing Christopher, who dances with four dummies to a few Village People songs. Always good to see a new performer on the minor-league circuit.

Overall, this is one of the most enjoyable places to watch a minor league game, especially on a Friday with the cheap drinks. Great fans and a dedication to the game (the pregame presentation includes details on the opposition, a review of the previous match and an interview with a player) really add a lot to the experience. If you are thinking of visiting the Little League World Series this month, the Crosscutters have a few games around that time, so make sure to catch at least one.

The Game

The Vermont Lake Monsters were visiting with a couple of 2015 high draft picks. Skye Bolt (4th round out of UNC, now Oakland's #19 prospect, above) and shortstop Richie Martin (20th overall out of Florida, now #4 on the A's prospect list, below) topped the order for Vermont.

Starting for Williamsport was Mitch Gueller (chosen as a supplemental first rounder in 2012, 54th overall, below) who has yet to make it out of short-season ball, likely a result of his poor command. Bolt led off the game with a double and later scored on a single by Brett Siddall (Windsor-born son of former Expo Joe, drafted in the 13th round this year). On that play, left fielder Zack Coppola (13th, 2015) threw wild, allowing another run to score.

Gueller settled down after that, and his opponent, Dustin Driver (7th, 2013) was solid, scattering 4 hits over 5 innings without yielding a run. Gueller was also replaced after 5 frames and the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, and although Vermont added a run in the 6th on a homer by Seong-min Kim, their relievers were unable to hold the lead. The culprit was Kevin Duchene (5th round, 2015) who pitched a decent sixth before running into trouble in the 7th. A single, walk, and passed ball led to an RBI groundout by Coppola, and then Mark Laird (9th, 2015) hit a grounder that Martin misplayed, allowing another run to score. Laird was given a single (see the final score below with no errors for Vermont) but this was changed the next day to an error on Martin.

I've given away the ending with the scoreboard shot, but Duchene remained in, giving up a double and a single before being pulled for James Naile (20th, 2015), whose first pitch sailed wide to allow the tying run to score. A single by Carlos Duran tied the game and then Austin Bossart (14th, 2015) doubled home another run before he scored on Laird's single. Closer Robert Tasin (19th, 2015) gave up a meaningless double in the 9th as the Cutters won the comeback 6-3. Duran was awarded the game's MVP for his two singles in the late going.


Williamsport is managed by Pat Borders, 1992 World Series MVP for Toronto. Based on watching his team and their record (26-14) he might have the goods to be a big-league skipper - hard to say why but it certainly seemed like his kids responded to him and he made all the right moves.

The Crosscutters put the flag of each player's native country on the scoreboard, such as below. When Kim, a South Korean, batted, the people behind me said "Japan" and then "Taiwan" before finally getting it right.

Next Up

State College tonight for the Spikes hosting Lowell in another NYPL game. Check back for a recap tomorrow.



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