Newman, Finigan make cut in top summer baseball league

By Gus Bode

Salukis change teams, but remain in Cape Cod

SIU baseball players Cory Newman and P.J. Finigan have been getting used to unfamiliar roles this summer – playing on opposing teams.

Newman, a senior outfielder, and Finigan, a junior pitcher/shortstop, began the summer as members of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the prestigious Cape Cod League.


Due to a surplus of outfielders, Newman was released by the Red Sox and picked up by the Harwich Mariners, another team in the same league.

“I’m happy that he got a chance to play someplace else, and it’s awful fun because I get to play against him for once,” Finigan said.

The two faced off soon after Newman switched teams. Finigan forced Newman to fly out then struck him out in their two confrontations.

Despite the “0-for” against Finigan, Newman is batting .241, the highest average on his team in this defensive-oriented league. Newman also hit his first home run last week, a shot off the left field scoreboard off pitcher Chris Lambert, a projected first-round draft pick.

According to Finigan, Newman has a good shot of making the All-Star team, which will be announced next week.

“I came over here as the new guy, and now I’m leading the team in batting average,” Newman said. “That gives you a good feeling. It’s a lot of confidence, and I think one of the most dangerous things for a hitter to have is not necessarily size or strength, but confidence at the plate.”

Newman, who wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to finish the summer in Cape Cod, was elated when Harwich signed him.


“It was a good feeling to know I was going to be here for good,” Newman said. “I made it. It was a long haul from the tryouts to the temp contract.”

After a slow start with the Red Sox, Newman is igniting the Mariners, who hope to make a second-half surge after recently adding pitcher Jeff Niemann of the national-champion Rice Owls.

Niemann is also rooming with Newman and Connecticut pitcher Mike James in the basement of Beverley Kelsey’s home with Kelsey’s teenage son and daughter.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Newman said. “She’s real easy going, and she has plenty of food.”

While the move forced Newman to move out of Barbara Ellsworth’s home, Finigan has settled into life on the Cape and still lives with the 74-year-old Ellsworth. Finigan has also started working at a local business, Martin’s Warehouse Liquors in South Yarmouth, Mass., even though he is not old enough to imbibe the store’s products.

“I do all kinds of things around there, stock shelves, make ice, all kinds of fun stuff,” Finigan said.

When he’s not making ice, he’s busy icing batters with his 2.21 ERA in more than 20 innings of work. Finigan hasn’t gotten the chance to play much shortstop, though.

“I’d like to play shortstop more, but there’s nothing I can do about that,” Finigan said. “It’s not in my hands, but pitching I would say I’m doing well, kind of struggling a little bit more as of late, but I think we got that worked out and I got my stuff back. I know my arm’s feeling pretty good.”

Finigan had a 0.49 ERA before some struggles in his last two innings pitched.

Side notes … Several other current and former Saluki baseball players are also having success this summer.

Nathan Emrick, who will be a sophomore next season, played in the Central Illinois Collegiate League All-Star game last week as a member of the Quincy Gems.

In the professional ranks, Sal Frisella is batting .317 with the Johnson City (Tenn.) Cardinals of the Appalachian League.

Reporter Ethan Erickson can be reached at [email protected]