by Katie Vieth/Intern
JUNE 15, 2004
LOWELL PARK — It was a day of new. New coaches, new pressbox, new interns … and definitely a new team. The Kettleers played the Columbus All-Americans, a team that the vast majority in the stands had never seen play before. Many had never heard of them and their red, white, and blue uniforms. But the fans had heard of this year’s scramble for Cotuit players. Some have been drafted, some are playing with Team USA , some aren’t showing for other reasons. Many of the players are “temps”. The diminutive turnout of an estimated 237 did not help the cause much either.
But never fear. This Kettleers team seems ready for any challenge.
The first batter up, Justin Maxwell, hit a single down the third-base line. Almost immediately, to the surprise of both the Kettleers devotees and the All-Americans, he made a steal attempt. The first-baseman Matt Lucas threw it to shortstop Jason Bucholtz … and the ball made its way out to centerfield. Maxwell surprised us all once again. Instead of simply easily making it to third, he sprinted towards home… and scored!! The Kettleers would eventually score three more runs in the first: Kettleers veteran Dennis Diaz scored off a wild pitch, Geoff Strickland scored off a Chase Headley single (he would later advance to second on the throw to home), and Headley touched home on a Brett Hayes single.
It would be the fourth inning before anyone would score again. After Headley struck out and Hayes got on base with a single to left field, Nathan Emrick grounded out, advancing Hayes to second. Eyes then fell upon Bryan Harris, the DH who had been walked in the second inning. The score was 4-0, in favor of the Kettleers. Derek Witt, the Columbus pitcher, threw one right by Harris. Strike one! The fans groaned. No one wanted to see Hayes die on second. Witt looked at the catcher, then at Hayes, and threw again. Harris swung, and the next thing the fans knew, the ball was over the left-field fence. Home run!! The score was now 6-0, Cotuit.
Then came the eighth inning. Geoff Strickland, who had earlier played second base, became the fifth pitcher for the Kettleers. He began the evening ominously, walking Bucholtz and hitting Jake Frank, the All-Americans’ number two and three hitters, respectively. The All-Americans then sent Ryan Schmidt to the plate, his first appearance of the night. Schmidt stepped up, and on the first pitch he saw, hit the ball to the backstop for a double, scoring Bucholtz. Ben Ehrlich would then add to the All-Americans’ score by hit to the second baseman, giving the visiting team an out, but also a run as Frank scored from third.
Though this was an exhibition game, it was a great harbinger of the season to come. Fans were able see six different pitchers, as no pitcher pitched more than two innings. The running and stealing aspect of baseball, while shown in flashes last season, is sure to be a major part of the 2004 Kettleers game plan.
This could be the year.