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September 08, 2009 - Image 16

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6B - September 8, 2009

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LAMARRE ( From page 1B
Catching up on the Cape
A day in the life of Wolverine-turned-Cape Cod Leaguer Ryan LaMarre

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COURTESY OF
JENN DERBY DRINKWATER
NICOLE AUERBACH/Daily
July 28,2009:10:45 a.m., Gleason Family YMCA
It's a typical game day, which means that the nine hours at the field (early hitting, regular batting practice and
the actual game) aren't enough.
So Ryan and roommate Scott Rembisz, a reliever for Wareham and a junior at Florida International, head to
the local gym.
The Cape League regular season is nearing its two-month mark, so everyone in town knows who plays for the
Gatemen. Ryan and Scott wave hello to the YMCA's receptionist (who wishes them good luck tonight) slide their
membership cards through the card reader and walk toward the weight room.
Entering the two-partweight room, Ryan immediately puts down his protein drink and car keys and heads to
the stationary bike for a quick warmup.
Forty-five minutes pass in a blur of bench pressing, bicep curls and abdominal workouts.
"Mention that I lift more now than when I work out with (Michigan first baseman Mike) Dufek," Ryan says
with a smile.
In the middle of the workout, Ryan and Scott are joined by Wareham teammates "Swags" and "Willy" - Jor-
dan Swagerty and Zach Wilson, both from Arizona State.
It's a short workout overall, because, as all four guys say, the previous day's one was brutal and left them all
sore.
A few more employees wish the pair good luck in tonight'sgame as the two roommates walk out of the YMCA.
Sure, they're wearing Gatemen T-shirts - but they like to think of it as a sort of local celebrity thing.
Ryan pauses near the door.
"Don't forget to mention that Dufek thing."
12:45 p.m., Sand & Surf Mini Golf
After a quick sandwich pickup from the local pizza place and a stop home to say hello to Ryan and Scott's host
family, the guys decide to kill some time before early hitting practice.
Ryan mentions that his three-year-old host sister learned how to turn on the heat the night before, which
doesn't make his basement bedroom living situation any more comfortable. He sleeps on an air mattress while
Scott takes the futon. The other half of the basement is a sort of family room, complete with a mini-kitchen, a
pair of couches and a TV. Living with two host siblings and two host parents, finding privacy can be a challenge
for both Ryan and Scott.
Ryan's Yukon XL is air conditioned, so it's a vital part of the plan to kill time. A drive around Wareham - past
the Chili's, Walmart and various other restaurants and convenience stores - invites some topics of conversation
about the town.
"I feel like everyone has tattoos and wears wife-beaters," Ryan says. "If you don't have a tattoo, you don't fit
in.
It's a bit of an exaggeration, but not off by much. Wareham is very different from the rest of the towns that host
teams in the Cape League. It's the only one technically off the Cape. To get there requires a trip over either the.
Bourne or Sagamore bridges, both of which are known for heavy traffic. Bus trips for away games can be brutal.
It can take more than an hour and a half to play in Orleans, the easternmost team in the league.
"Can't blame us for our bad road record," Ryan says.
And it's easy to agree. Four teams (Chatham, Orleans, Harwich and Brewster) are all within 15 minutes of one
another, so the Gatemen can feel like outsiders in the league sometimes.
But what also makes Wareham stand out is that it does have a different local crowd than many of the other
Cape towns. In Chatham, the town the movie Summer Catch is set in, the town is filled with alot of polo-wear-
ing, preppy vacationers. In Wareham, it's a different brand of locals.
Ryan sees a miniature golf course and pulls in. Besides the fact that it's hot out, mini golf seems like the perfect
activity to kill an hour.
As Scott lines up for his first shot, Ryan starts pretendingto be a golf announcer, giving play-by-play of Scott's
first putt. He gives up after a few minutes, and instead decides to focus on beating his roommate.
The two aren't having their best day of putt-putt - each suffers a couple of 6's - but nonetheless, they remain
tied after 18 holes. Of course, this means they must have a one-hole playoff. Scott wins.

1:30 p.m., Locker room
It's officially sweltering. The iPhone weather app says it's 83 degrees with 67 percent humidity. Ryan and
Scott head into the Gatemen's locker room to change for the optional early hitting practice. Even though it's
not mandatory, Ryan says basically everyone goes - or at least everyone who wants to play that night.
About two-thirds of the team has already shown up for early hitting, and a scout sits perched in the first-
base bleachers, clearly here early to check outa particular player.
Ryan wonders if the scout's presence means he and his teammates won't be able to multitask this afternoon
- they like to take batting practice shirtless so they can work on their tans, too.
It doesn't seem to be a problem, and the scorching sun leads many players to hit and field balls in just gym
shorts and sneakers. They don't necessarily look like baseball players.
But way behind them in the distance, each player's meticulously-kept white home jersey hangs from the
outfield fence, drying in the sun in preparation for the evening's game.
3:20 p.m., Clem Spillane Field
Wareham manager Cooper Farris is pitching from behind a protective net, and Ryan stands in the batting
cage that surrounds home plate.
After almost two hours of shagging fly balls in the outfield, Ryan's group has finally reached its turn to hit.
In Ryan's second round of swings, he struggles. After a bloop hit to right field, Farris tells him to pause.
"Show me your barrel," Farris says.
Ryan goes through a slow-motion swing, freezing at the invisible point of contact.
On the next live pitch, Ryan lines the ball right back at Farris' pitching net.
Then, he smashes three straight balls to dead center, inciting a loud primal yell from Farris.
After two more consecutive home runs over the deep left centerfield fence, one of Ryan's teammates jokes,
"Well, that's a pretty good swing."
The conversation between hitting sessions is all over the place. Indiana pitcher Blake Monar brings up
politics, as he often does, which starts as a conversation about "Obama fans" and the economy in the 1990s
and evolves into a chat about which Gatemen player would make the best president. Texas pitcher Brandon
Workman confidently claims he'd eliminate the terrorism problem.
7:00 p.m., A more-crowded Clem Spillane Field
After another round of batting practice and pre-game warmups inthe field, it's finally game time. Wareham
is hosting the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, home of another Michigan player: fellow junior Tyler Burgoon.
The Red Sox are on a tear, in the midst of a seven-game win streak. Burgoon leads the league in saves and
has recently been selected as an Eastern Divison All-Star. Y-D's starter and the eventual Cape League pitcher
of the year is Chris Sale, a towering left-hander from Florida Gulf Coast.
But the Gatemen have one of their best pitchers on the mound, Vanderbilt's Jack Armstrong.
Ryan has been hitting well as of late. He struggled early in the season to adjust to the wooden bats while
facing the nation's top collegiate pitchers. But now, as evidenced by batting practice bombs, his swing is back
in top form. Michigan's leading hitter (.344 average, 12 home runs) has officially arrived on the Cape.
But Ryan's first at-bat is a rough one. He strikes out on a foul-tipped third strike and comes backto the dug-
out angrythat he missed the pitch.
An inning later, he and teammates discuss Sale as they lean on the dugout fence and spit sunflower seeds.
The consensus is that Sale's throwing pretty much everything for strikes, but he's also gettingsome help from
the umpires. In the third inning, Ryan sees that firsthand as he's called out on strikes looking. He's furious -
"There's no way that was a strike" and "It was four inches outside" he says to teammates as he re-enters the
dugout. See LAMARRE, Page 9B

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