Those who have closely followed the chronicles of Cumberland American this summer are well aware of Trey Bourque’s offensive prowess. For those late to the game, let’s examine the youngster’s stat line from the New England Little League Regional tournament.
In six games, Bourque hit a robust .421 (8-for-19) with one home run and nine RBI. He was the epitome of a tough out, striking out just three times in 21 plate appearances while posting a .429 on-base percentage. It’s a stat line that would be respectable for a top-of-the-order hitter, even though Bourque is typically slotted in the back half of Cumberland American’s fearsome lineup.
So there’s no question that Bourque is a handful in the batter’s box – but it’s what Bourque brings to the table from behind the plate that is among the most important reasons why the local entry is spending the week in Williamsport, Pa. for the Little League World Series.
“Everyone knows about Trey and his hitting, but he’s a great receiver of the ball,” manager Dave Belisle said.
Bourque, the team’s catcher, has played behind the dish for every inning of the 13 games Cumberland American has played to date – encompassing the districts, states and regionals.
“Do we have a backup? Not like Trey, I can say that much,” Belisle responded when asked if CALL’s depth chart includes a second catcher. “If there’s anybody we can’t afford to have go down, it would be him.”
Bourque’s bedrock influence was never more apparent than during last Saturday’s regional title contest against Fairfield (Conn.) American. Connecticut’s pitchers threw three wild pitches in that contest, all of which led to runs for CALL. Two of those scores came during the crucial, momentum-changing bottom of the fourth where Cumberland scored five times to erase a 5-3 deficit.
On Cumberland’s side, the two championship game pitchers for Belisle & Co. – Nick Croteau and C.J. Davock – were not charged with a single wild pitch. Much of the credit for that goes to Bourque, whose ability to get down and keep stray pitches close is absolutely crucial with baserunners only 60 feet away from their next station.
In the top of the second inning in the title game, Fairfield attempted to send a runner home from third on a pitch, and “Trey was able to block the ball that rolled to the side and threw to Croteau to get the guy at the plate,” Belisle recalled. The play went in the books as the final out of the frame and halted Connecticut’s bid to extend what was a two-run lead. “He does that all the time. He’s such a great protector of the ball.”
Based on figures tabulated by gamechanger.com, Bourque was charged with only four passed balls during the New England regional tournament, three of which occurred during Cumberland American’s 25-5 romp over of Barnstable (Mass.) Tom Wallace American in pool play. In the six regional games, CALL pitchers uncorked just four wild pitches and posted a team ERA of 3.74.
Bourque’s dependable nature has no doubt had a lot to do with Cumberland American’s ability to navigate its way through three playoff rounds.
“Just the way Trey receives, he allows our pitching staff to start the ball in the right location,” Belisle said. “When they break off a curveball with two strikes, they know that Trey is going to be right there to block or corral it. Our pitchers aren’t afraid to bounce something because they know he’s going to block it, which helps.”
With Bourque set to take his “down and dirty” act to an even bigger stage, it’s safe to say his abilities won’t be go unnoticed for much longer.
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