Kettleers Media Intern
August 4, 2012
WAREHAM – The Kettleers secured the Western Division title as they beat Wareham 9-4 Friday. After losing a humbling game against Harwich one day earlier, the team picked itself up and bounced back. After claiming an early lead, Cotuit’s relief pitching kept the team in the game and the offense never let up.
Daniel Aldrich has been a consistent force for the Kettleers since being picked up by the club from Orleans in early July. He continued to show his power Friday as he got Cotuit on the board with a solo shot in the first.
But he wasn’t done, hitting his second solo homer in two at bats in the second to put Cotuit on top 6-2. “That was actually four straight homers against them, so that was pretty cool,” Aldrich said. Aldrich is hitting .368 on the season, and is top five in the league in homeruns. He’s hit ten long balls with the Kettleers and 11 total on the season.
However, it was Jacob Valdez who dealt Wareham the biggest blow of the game and gave the team a commanding lead. “Just keep it simple, you can’t really make this game hard,” Valdez said. “The easiest way is just to stay focused and just try to put the ball in play.”
The second baseman came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the first. He hit a bases clearing triple to put Cotuit up 5-0. “You love Daniel’s two homeruns, but that was the biggest swing of this game,” coach Mike Roberts said of the hit.
When Cotuit’s starting pitcher went just 1/3 of an inning, the Kettleers needed someone to pick up some innings. Ryan Connolly (Coastal Carolina) came in to relieve starter Zach Bargeron (West Virginia), a recent acquisition for the Kettleers, when he ran into early trouble. “Connolly’s been an anchor in the bullpen,” Aldrich said. “He’s as consistent as it gets.” Connolly leads the league with 8 wins on the season, and is second in the league in strikeouts with 52.
Connolly did settle things down, getting out of the first inning with minimal damage. He allowed Wareham just two runs (credited to Bargeron) in the first to get on the board. Connolly gave up two runs of his own in the third and fifth innings, but threw 4 2/3 innings in relief. He gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) hit his 13th homer of the season, a solo shot in the fifth to help Wareham climb back in the game. The hit off Connolly to right center field brought the Gatemen within two runs and put the score at 6-4.
Cameron Griffin (Stetson) also saw relief innings on the mound. He threw three scoreless allowing just one hit. He walked two and struck out five when Coach Roberts told him the team needed him to pitch to the ninth. “There’s no doubt it does hurt us tomorrow, certainly with Connolly, I may not be able to use him either game,” Roberts said.
He continued explaining the most important thing was to focus on the present game. “Go ahead and try to win now, and don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself
The Kettleers gave themselves a bit of a cushion in the top of the seventh. Jacob May (Coastal Carolina) walked to lead off the inning. Then Derek Smith (Pitt Bradford) placed a bunt just fair for a single to reach first base, but Smith and May advanced two bases on a wild throw by the catcher.
With two on and two outs, Adam Nelubowich (Washington State) came to the plate. He was 0-4 on the night but he took a 2-0 pitch to right center for a two run double. Aldrich later singled in Nelubowich extending the Kettleers lead to 9-4. “Offensively we really got some help all across the board,” Roberts said. The five run lead was all Cotuit needed as Dan Slania came in to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth inning and collect his ninth save of the season.
The Kettleers (26-13) have won 18 of their last 21 games and have clinched the Western Division title. Wareham falls to 17-22 with five games left in the season. “These are a great group of guys,” Valdez said. “We all want to work and just play baseball. We’ve got a lot of guys who love the game. It makes it a lot easier when you have people who want to win.”
The Kettleers play a double header tomorrow beginning in Orleans (22-17) at 11 a.m. The club has not beaten the Firebirds this season in three previous matchups. Kyle Finnegan (Texas State) will make the morning start looking for his second win of the season.
Cotuit will then head back home for a 4:30 p.m. matchup against Bourne (16-23) start at Lowell Park. Jordan Smith (Western Carolina) will take the mound for the Kettleers in game two. For more post game interviews, visit Official Kettleers on YouTube.