The final month of the New York-Penn League season was memorable for catcher Andrew Knapp (Granite Bay High School) of the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters.
On Aug. 18, Knapp, the Philadelphia Phillies' second-round draft pick in June out of Cal, caught the first no-hitter of his career. Yacksel Rios, Mark Meadors and Manny Martinez combined to pitch the no-hitter against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
"That was really cool," Knapp, 21, told MiLB.com on catching the Crosscutters' first no-hitter since 2006. "You don't know if you'll ever get to be in that situation and experience something like that. To do that my first year in pro ball was pretty awesome. I had never caught a no-hitter at any level, so to get my first one was pretty special."
Eight days after the no- hitter, the switch hitter accomplished another first with a four-hit game, including three doubles, three runs and an RBI as the Crosscutters beat the State College (Pa.) Spikes 13-5.
Knapp said playing professionally is a different experience.
"It's a different game from college ball," he told MiLB.com. "Instead of playing three games over the weekend then getting a couple of days off, every day you're out there and in the lineup. One of the things that I've been learning is how to play every day and try to have quality at-bats, even though you're maybe not feeling as good as you want."
Title for DeMello, Pulaski
Pulaski (Va.) Mariners manager Chris Prieto, who played for the River Cats in 2003, preached all season the importance of winning one pitch at a time. And catcher Toby DeMello (Roseville) won more than his share of pitches in the Appalachian League championship series.
In Game 1 of the best-of-three series Wednesday, DeMello capped a three-RBI night by singling in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning as the East Division champion Mariners beat the West Division Greeneville (Tenn.) Astros 5-3.
"I don't expect myself to be the hero," DeMello said in an interview with MiLB.com. "Fortunately, I was able to come up in some RBI situations and, luckily, I got the job done."
In Game 2 on Thursday, DeMello had two hits and two RBIs in a decisive 6-5 victory, giving Pulaski its first Appalachian League title since 1991.
DeMello, 23, hit .273 in 27 games during the regular season.
Jesuit is everywhere
Jesuit High School had 10 former players in the minor leagues this season: Martin Agosta, Lars Anderson, Jimmy Bosco, Vinnie Catricala, Daniel Child, Zach Green, Danny Hayes, Justin Higley, Andrew Susac and Cory Vaughn.
Add J.P. Howell of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that makes it 11 from Jesuit in professional baseball.
Even more impressive is that they all played for current Jesuit coach Joe Potulny (Jesuit, American River).
Dave Torgerson (Christian Brothers), who was inducted into the La Salle Club Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010, hit the last home run at Edmonds Field while playing for Fort Sutter American Legion in the summer of 1962. Torgerson, who is married to the former Yvonne Zetz (Miss Sacramento County 1964), was the first left-handed batter to hit a home run in the inaugural season of the Night League at Harry Renfree Field in 1968.
Don Saner (Elk Grove, Sacramento City) was a Southern League All-Star and batting champion in 1961 with a .349 average for the Little Rock Travelers, the Baltimore Orioles' Double-A affiliate. The first baseman-outfielder played eight minor-league seasons, hit better than .300 three times and finished his career with a .299 average. He reached Triple A with the Cleveland Indians but went hitless in three at-bats.
Toby Hall (El Dorado, American River) is in the top 10 all-time in several of Tampa Bay's statistical categories. The former catcher is seventh in games and doubles, eighth in at-bats and RBIs, ninth in hits and is tied for sixth in sacrifice flies with Aubrey Huff. Hall, 37, debuted with Tampa Bay on Sept. 15, 2000, and played his last major-league game with the Chicago White Sox in 2008. He retired from baseball on Dec. 20, 2011.
Wrapping up the Cats
The River Cats' season attendance of 607,329 (8,435 per game) led the Pacific Coast League. They had six sellouts this season and have 78 sellouts in 14 seasons in Sacramento.
The PCL will have a new look in 2014 with the River Cats moving to the Pacific North Division. The realignment has the River Cats, Fresno, Reno and Tacoma in the Pacific North; Albuquerque, El Paso, Las Vegas and Salt Lake in the Pacific South; Colorado Springs, Iowa, Oklahoma City and Omaha in the American North; and Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans and Round Rock in the American South.
The River Cats' 2014 home opener is April 11 against the Salt Lake Bees in just 215 days. The River Cats open the season April 3 at Salt Lake.
In 13 years as radio announcer for the River Cats, Johnny Doskow has given nicknames to only three players. Prieto was tabbed "The Piano Man" for his ability to play the instrument. Relief pitcher Shawn Kohn (2004, 2006-2007) was called "The Wedding Planner" because that's what he did in the offseason. Shortstop Andy Parrino received the moniker "The Magician" because of his defensive skills.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.