North Xtra: West Deer man a hit in Cape Cod League
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As if playing a Division I sport while working on a computer engineering degree at an Ivy League school isn't consuming enough, Tim Giel is spending his summer in an arguably more intense environment. He's standing out, too.
Giel, a West Deer resident and Shady Side Academy graduate, signed to play for the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. He was selected as an all-star in the organization that bills itself "the premier amateur baseball league in the nation since 1885."
Giel had a 0.74 ERA through 241/3 innings at the time of the league's July 28 all-star game, which was nationally televised on Fox College Sports. A right-hander who will be a senior at Columbia University, Giel pitched a scoreless inning of relief that evening at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass.
"It was an awesome experience," Giel said. "There's a ton of scouts there, so hopefully I got my name out there. You're playing with what's supposed to be the best of the best in college baseball."
Giel, 6 feet 2, 230 pounds, plays for the Bourne Braves. A three-sport standout at Shady Side Academy (he was a two-year captain of the wrestling and baseball teams and a captain of the Indians' football team as a senior), Giel set school records for career wins and strikeouts and single-season wins, strikeouts and lowest opponent batting average.
In college, Giel has appeared in 37 games over three seasons with Columbia. His best season came as a reliever in 2011 when he had a 1.71 ERA, five saves and 26 strikeouts in 261/3 innings, earning him second-team All-Ivy League relief pitcher honors. Back in the rotation this past spring, Giel went 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA.
Giel participated in the Prospect League two summers ago and the Northwoods League last summer. Both are wooden-bat leagues, too, but the Cape Cod League has a nationally renowned reputation as the top such college-aged league in the country.
"I think it's the intensity, it's just a lot higher than anywhere else I've played," Giel said. "The players are so much better, and scouts are here almost every single night. And the crowds are really into it, it's really awesome."
Giel was roughed up some in his first start of the season for Bourne this past Saturday. But up until that point, he had an 0.71 ERA, .232 opponents batting average and 23 strikeouts in 251/3 innings.
More than 1,000 Cape Cod League alumni are active in professional baseball, including MLB stars Tim Lincecum and Mark Texeira. More than 800 former Cape Cod League players in history have made it to the Majors.
"There are guys from all the big schools around here," Giel said. "Most of them are the best on their [college] team -- especially the hitters. It's been invaluable experience for the future."
Like all Cape Cod League players, Giel stays with a host family throughout the season, all part of the Cape Cod experience.
"We're fortunate enough they're taking us into their home over the whole summer," Giel said. "Giving us a place to live, washing our clothes, everything. It's awesome being able to have people who will do that for us."
Giel's goal for his final season of college baseball is to help lead Columbia to an Ivy League title and NCAA regional. But after that, he hopes some level of professional baseball will come calling. Ultimately, he'd like to stay involved in the sport long term.
"Hopefully, I will be able to ride this out as far as I can take it as far as a playing career," Giel said. "After that, it all depends on what opportunities I get.
"Maybe later on, I'll want to coach somewhere, or maybe end up scouting. I'll always have this Columbia degree to fall back on, which is always good to know."
First Published August 9, 2012 8:20 am