Andrew Thome got to spend most of his summer in New England’s best vacation spot playing the game he loves most.
It’s not surprising that the 2011 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate has nothing but good things to say about playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod League.
“I loved it,” he said. “Everything about it was great.”
Thome is about to be a junior right-hander on the University of North Dakota baseball team. He has been UND’s ace the past two seasons and got his first taste of summer baseball in New England in 2012.
That year, he played for the Holyoke (Mass.) Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
The Cape Cod League is a big step up. It’s a summer, collegiate wood-bat league similar to the Northwoods League that includes the St. Cloud Rox.
The Cape Cod has been around a lot longer and the travel is a lot better, with the longest trip about 45 miles or so.
“There’s players who are going in the first round (of the Major League Baseball draft) for sure,” Thome said. “For me, playing there, it was kind of surreal …
“We had a guy throwing 100 miles per hour there (at Hyannis).”
That would be Jeff Hoffman, a right-hander from East Carolina University who consistently hit the mid-90s.
Remember the name.
Thome led Cathedral to a state Class 2A title in 2011, earning Times’ player of the year honors.
UND, while it is a Division I program, is a bit off the beaten path in the baseball world, where teams in warmer climates dominate.
Thome’s Hyannis stats were impressive, considering the competition.
He made six starts and went 3-2 with a 4.76 earned-run average.
He struck out 13, walked nine and allowed 36 hits in 281⁄3 innings.
He said everything at Hyannis was top-notch.
The team played at a high school facility, maybe the only downer on an otherwise great experience.
“It (the Cape Cod) was light years ahead of the league I was in last year,” Thome said. “The level is unmatched to any.
“It was a blast, a real fun experience to be out there.”
For the time being, Thome is enjoying the rest of his summer before heading back to Grand Forks, N.D., Aug. 24.
He said the baseball team, which is in its seventh year of Division I, should be improved after going 25-22-1 in 2012, including 13-11 in the Great West Conference. Thome was 6-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 starts.
UND will play in the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.
“We’re losing only four seniors and we’ve been adding, adding, adding (players). I think we’ll be pretty good, maybe surprise some people.”