Tigers team up in Cape Cod

Austin Tribby: “I think it’s always fun to have guys from your school play with you in the summer. It’s really cool to see them be able to do what they do in a different environment and see them face different guys with different styles."
Missouri Tigers infielder Shane Benes (3) swings at a pitch April 21, 2015, at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo. The Tigers lost to Missouri State 9-8.

The moment the baseball hit his bat, Shane Benes knew it was gone. The ball soared over the fence just left of dead center field for a home run. Benes, a rising sophomore, had just notched his first hit in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

The CCBL is considered the best summer league for college baseball players. The league has produced many major league stars, including Mike Matheny, Craig Biggio, Thurman Munson, Matt Harvey and Lance Berkman.

This year, four Missouri Tigers are competing in the league. Benes, rising senior Austin Tribby and rising sophomore Bryce Montes de Oca are all playing for the Falmouth Commodores, while rising senior Alec Rash is playing for the Brewster Whitecaps.

“Just to be able to represent my school down here in front of all the professional scouts and all, that is a huge honor,” Tribby said.

The league offers the players a chance to develop their skills while playing against some of the best competition that college baseball has to offer.

Montes de Oca is a powerful right-handed pitcher. After beginning the summer in Falmouth’s bullpen, he emerged as a starter for the Commodores.

“I’m just trying to get innings right now, some experience, work on my breaking ball, get it a little more consistent, just work on my command of the fastball,” Montes de Oca said.

The 6-foot-7-inch Lawrence, Kansas, native has impressed many people on the Cape, including Falmouth coach Jeff Trundy.

“More than velocity, I think what’s really been important is that he’s been able to command the strike zone,” Trundy said. “With his stuff, if he just throws strikes you’re going to have good success.”

Tribby has also done well for the Commodores. Like Montes de Oca, the left-hander started the summer in the bullpen and moved into a starting role.

“(Tribby’s) given us a good chance to win every single time he’s been on the mound,” Trundy said. “He’s throwing three pitches for strikes and I’ve been more than pleased with his presence. He has good poise—he doesn’t get rattled. He gets to the next pitch very, very well.”

While in the Cape, players live with a host family. They also have access to attractions that are difficult to find in Columbia.

Benes said that aside from the traffic, he has enjoyed his summer home, especially the beach, because of the “different environment.”

As a position player, Benes also feels the high level of competition is good preparation for Southeastern Conference pitching.

“It’s definitely been challenging hitting-wise, seeing good pitching like we do in our conference,” he said. “So it’s been good for me, just getting more reps in practice on the good arms and being able to learn how to take and learn my strike zone and what I can and cannot hit and overall just getting a lot of repetitions in a really good league. That’s been really, really helpful for me.”

With three Missouri players in Falmouth, it has given the Tiger players the unique chance to team up over the summer. Tribby has enjoyed growing with his college teammates as baseball players and said they have had learning experiences as a team that they would not have seen with the Tigers.

“I think it’s always fun to have guys from your school play with you in the summer,” he said. “It’s really cool to see them be able to do what they do in a different environment and see them face different guys with different styles. It’s just cool watching them be able to compete and do well in such a great league.”

Since starting this summer, all three players have competed in different roles than they did at Mizzou. After coming off of a knee injury, Benes has been able to start playing the field. While with the Tigers his freshman year, he was limited to the role of designated hitter.

Neither Tribby nor Montes de Oca started games pitching for Mizzou. After seeing them step up in both starting and relief roles, Trundy feels that the Mizzou coaching staff will have many options with the duo.

“I think any coach wants to know that he has a pitching staff that can offer some versatility, and I think these kids are showing that,” said Trundy, who is on his 17th year with the Commodores.

Trundy feels that Benes, Montes de Oca and Tribby all have potential to continue playing baseball after college. He said he is pleased with his relationship with the Mizzou coaching staff and hopes to see future Tigers playing summer ball in Falmouth.

“We’ve had a long term relationship with (Tigers coach Tim) Jamieson and Missouri,” he said. “We’ve really appreciated them trusting their kids to us. We’re kind of borrowing these guys, to be honest. It’s really their guys but we’ve had a long, long list of Missouri Tigers and we want that to continue and certainly we look forward to having more in the future.”

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