In many ways the Williamsport Crosscutters season was a tale of two months, July & August. After a June which saw the Cutters post a record of 7-7, the Cutters caught fire as the record-setting temperatures rose in July.
Williamsport upped the ante by going 19-9 in July finishing the month 10 games over .500 and in a nip and tuck race with State College for the lead in the Pinckney Division while holding a commanding lead in the race for the Wild Card playoff spot. It looked as though the two teams would battle to the bitter end in the fight for Pinckney supremacy.
The Cutters month of July began with three straight wins over cellar-dwelling Batavia followed by a 5-game losing skid from July 4-9. As fate would have it, on July 10 OF Mark Laird was assigned to Williamsport on a minor league rehab assignment. He had not seen any action in 2016 due to a back injury sustained in spring training. Laird, the Phillies 9th round draft pick in 2015 out of LSU, was a NYPL All-Star for Williamsport in 2015. When he was ready to get back on the field, the Phillies assigned him to Williamsport to get his feet wet against live pitching again. He might as well have arrived with a big "S" on his chest.
Not only did Williamsport end their losing streak in Laird's first game (July 10), they went on to reel off five straight victories while going on to win 14 of 16 games from July 10-26. Laird was the undeniable sparkplug at the top of the order batting .358 with 8 RBI's and 5 stolen bases during his rehab assignment which concluded August 3. The Cutters record with Laird on the roster? A lofty 17-5
With a 10-18 record in August, the Cutters quickly saw their hopes of a second consecutive Pinckney Division title dashed while State College went 18-11 in August to build a commanding lead in the division. The Cutters meanwhile clung to the hopes of a Wild Card berth but were eliminated in late August.
Overall the 2016 Cutters hit .244, 13 points lower than the team batting average in 2016 while also scoring 50 less runs that the previous year. It's no secret that the pitching staff carried the Cutters while sporting a team ERA of 2.70 (2nd in the league) which ranks 2nd all-time in Williamsport short season history.
While the team fell short of a second straight playoff berth under manager Pat Borders, there still were many reasons for celebration in 2016 including;
- Ranger Suarez pitching a no-hitter on July 26 at home in game one of a sun-drenched doubleheader against Auburn
- Three Williamsport players picked to play in the NYPL All-Star Game; pitchers Adonis Medina and Ranger Suarez and OF Jesus Alestre
- The renewal of the Phillies Player Development Contract for the 2017 and 2018 seasons
- A lease extension between the Williamsport Crosscutters and the City of Williamsport through the 2020 season
- Construction of a new premium deck down the right field line to be completed in time for the 2017 season
- BB&T Ballpark voted as the Best Stadium in Short Season Class-A by fans on BallparkDigest.com
All-in-all another season of fun and celebration at our "community front porch", BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. We can't wait to see what 2017 brings!
2016 SEASON BY THE NUMBERS
.203- Batting average against Adonis Medina (lowest in the NYPL for starters)
.518- League-leading Slugging Percentage by Darick Hall
3- Number of home rainouts
8- Number of different pitchers who recorded saves for Williamsport
12- Number of wins against Batavia (no losses)
19- Doubles by Darick Hall to lead the NYPL in that category
39- Number of wins by the Cutters
46- Number of players to appear in a Cutters uniform this season
85- Number of Cutters career victories by manager Pat Borders (2015/2016) to tie Chris Truby (2009/2010) for the most victories as a Cutters manager
152.5 - Number of Community Service hours performed by Cutters players during the 2016 season
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.