By Megan Kerr, Asst. Web Editor
June 16, 2005
LOWELL PARK, COTUIT – What was a perfect day for baseball, and what seemed to be the perfect beginning to a new season, instead turned into a frustrating one-one tie for the Cotuit Kettleers.
Leading for most of the game by a 1-0 score, it seemed as if Cotuit was going to win their season opener in much the same fashion as it had for most of last season — by a one-run margin.
But the Bourne Braves refused to quit.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Braves evened up the score at 1-1 and with the Kettleers unable to answer in the bottom of the ninth, the game was called on account of darkness.
Both the starting pitcher Clay Dirks (LSU), who pitched five strong innings, and his replacement Charles Blackmon, who pitched two innings, didn’t allow a single run to the Braves. Dirks struck out four batters and seemed in complete command of his repertoire and the Braves’ lineup.
Dirks’ biggest challenge came in the second inning when the Braves loaded the bases with just one out.
The baserunner on third had reached on a fielder’s choice, the baserunner on second had been hit by a pitch, and the baserunner on first had singled. What could have been a break-out inning for the Braves was quickly squashed through the brilliant pitching of Dirks when he struck out the next two batters. This was the only inning where Dirks faced serious trouble, and Blackmon, who had two strikeouts, also kept the Braves from seriously threatening.
Deadlocked in a scoreless tie through 2.5 innings, the Kettlers got on the board in the bottom half of the third.
Facing Bourne’s Brad Lincoln with two outs, Cotuit centerfielder Emeel Salem (Alabama) singled, and then scored on left fielder Shane Jordan’s (Stetson) single. Racing to home all the way from first base, Salem was able to score due to the inattention of the Braves defense, who were unprepared for such a bold move. The Keetlleers did have runners at third following this inning at three different occasions, but were unable to deliver the hit that would have secured the win for them. Through strong relief pitching, where a combined three pitchers threw shut-out ball, the Braves were able to stay in the game. It seemed though, that this run would be enough to win the game, but the Braves were able to rally from behind in the top of the ninth inning.
Chris Toneguzzi of the Kettleers came out to close the game in the ninth inning and started out strong by striking out the pinch-hitter Josh Stinson. Toneguzzi hit the following batter, Robbie Widlansky, who was able to steal second shortly after getting on base. A single by Brett Bartles was all it took to score Widlansky from second, and suddenly the game was tied. Toneguzzi didn’t let the run shake him as he bared down and struck out the next two batters, which gave his team the opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.
With the score tied, the Kettleers went up to bat knowing they would
need to score and score quickly in order to claim victory — dusk had fallen upon Lowell Park amid the tall pines.
It appeared when J.P Padron (LSU) reached first base by walking that the Kettleers were going to pull through and win the game, but this hope was quickly squashed. Pinch-runner Tim Ernst never even reached second as shortstop Todd Davison was unable to get the sacrifice bunt down. This turned out to be extremely important, as the next batter hit into a game-ending double play.
Both teams secured one point in the Western Division standings for the tie. Ties in the Cape League do not happen that often, but they do occur at ballparks such as Cotuit. Cotuit does not have lights, nor does Hyannis, Bourne, Y-D or Brewster.