Cotuit Clinches First Place in West and Top Playoffs Spot
By Megan Kerr/Asst. Web Editor
August 1, 2006
COTUIT, MA — Thanks to a Justin Smoak (South Carolina) home run and some stellar pitching from the likes of Georgia Tech’s Dave Duncan, Dan Runzler (UC-Riverside) and Young Harris’ Corey Gearrin, the Cotuit Kettleers defeated the Chatham A’s last night at Lowell Park and in so doing clinched first place in the Western Division and a playoff spot.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Kettleers cannot finish any worse than one-point ahead of whichever team finishes in second place. In the unlikelihood that Cotuit loses its final four match-ups, and, for example, Wareham won it’s last five games, Cotuit would still finish one point ahead of the Gatemen in first place.
Neither the Kettleers nor the Chatham A’s were able to muster up much offense last night as both starting pitchers were in complete control of their stuff, but Cotuit was able to produce just enough offense to beat the A’s, 2-1.
With both Dave Duncan (Georgia Tech, 3BB, 6K, 1H) and Ricky Hargrove (Houston, 1BB, 6K, 4H) dominating, the first three innings of the game only took around thirty minutes to complete. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that any chink in the armor of either pitcher could be found as Justin Smoak (South Carolina, 1 for 4, 1 RBI) was able to take advantage of one bad pitch thrown by Hargrove. With the count two and one, Smoak drove Hargrove’s pitch to deep right field, easily clearing the fence for his eleventh homerun of the season, which gave the Kettleers a one run lead.
Other than Smoak’s homerun in the fourth inning, Cotuit was unable to get anything going against Hargrove, but with Duncan also pitching well, the lack of offensive fire power by the Kettleers wasn’t that important. Duncan, who with the victory moved to three and two on the season, pitched five plus strong innings for the Kettleers, but began to have problems in the sixth inning after easily registering the first out. A walk and two hit batters later, Duncan was facing the bases loaded with two outs having thrown over ninety pitches already, which forced Coach Roberts to bring in Dan Runzler (UC Riverside, 1BB, 4K, 3H) to get the Kettleers out of the inning. Runzler performed his job admirably as he struck out Doug Pickens (Michigan, 1 for 3) to end the threat.
Cotuit added another run in the seventh inning as Matt Angle (Ohio State, 1 for 3) scored on a bad throw from the catcher when he was trying to steal third base, giving the Kettleers a two run lead that they would need. Chatham managed to cut the Kettleers lead in the eighth inning off of an RBI double by Danny Espinosa (Long Beach St, 1 for 3, 1RBI) before Coach Roberts brought in Cotuit closer Cory Gearrin (Young Harris, 0BB, 5K, 0H) who struck out the next two batters to end the inning. After Cotuit was unable to add any more security runs in the bottom of the eighth, it was up to Gearrin to secure for the Kettleers their twenty-sixth victory. Gearrin easily did this, striking out the side to pick up his eighth save of the season and to improve his strikeout total to forty-one on the season, which is only one behind James Simmons (UC Riverside) who leads the team in strikeouts. Cotuit remains at home where they have a rematch against potential playoff match up Wareham as the Kettleers look to defend their home park against the second place Gateman.