By Jessica Isner, Staff Writer
June 15 , 2007
LOWELL PARK, COTUIT, MA – The Kettleers started off the 2007 season with a courageous effort against the Bourne Braves but ultimately fell, 7-6. After falling behind, 6-1, they came back in a five-run eighth inning to bring the game within a run but could not close the deal.
In his Cape League debut, starting pitcher Brad Brach had a rough outing. He struggled through the first two innings and left in the fifth inning after he was hit by a line drive. He finished with five runs, three earned, nine hits, three K’s and one walk over 4.2 innings. The Kettleers faced Mitch Harris of the Naval Academy , who pitched a solid six innings and allowed seven hits, zero runs, and fanned seven.
Two years ago, the Kettleers began their season against the Braves in a game that ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
Brach was touched for a four-spot in the first inning and allowed the Braves to bat around. After allowing a leadoff single to Ben Guez, catcher Robert Stock had a passed ball before Bill Perry grounded out to third. Brach then issued a walk to Addison Maruszak, then induced Brain Pruitt into a flyout. Kevin Hoef reached on an error by Jeff Ussery to score Guez. Andrew Clark sent a single to short center field to bring Perry home. Brach allowed two consecutive singles and then hit Jared Baehl, which put two more runs up on the board, before striking out Guez to end the inning.
The Braves grabbed another run in the top of the second, when Brach allowed a leadoff single to Bill Perry. Perry advanced to second on a groundout and then got to third when Brach balked before allowing an RBI single to Hoef. Clark ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
Brach settled down through the third, getting two quick outs and then working around an error and a passed ball to induce Ben Guez into a flyout to end the inning. He earned his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth in which he fanned two. In the bottom of the inning, he pinch-hit for catcher Robert Stock and sent a blooper down the first baseline. Stock was removed from the game after being hit by a pitch on the ankle in his first at-bat. Unfortunately, Brach ran in to trouble of a different kind in the top of the fifth. After allowing a double to Clark , David Denatale singled off his ankle and he was subsequently removed from the game in favor of pitcher Trey Barham. Barham easily got the last out of the inning, a flyout to center field.
The Kettleers got something going in the bottom of the sixth, when Tony Delmonico of Tennessee led off with a double and was knocked in by another double to center by Aaron Baker. Harris then settled down to retire the side, leaving Baker stranded at second.
Bourne added another run in the top of the eighth, when Brian Pruitt hit a two-out RBI double against Barham.
Cotuit then exploded for a five-run eighth inning. Braves reliever Jesse Haney allowed three consecutive singles to Cory Figueroa, Delmonico, and Baker. Delmonico came around with the Kettleers’ second run when Mike Bianucci grounded into a fielder’s choice. Haney reloaded the bases with a walk to Ryne White, then pitcher Barham hit a bases clearing double to cut Bourne’s lead to 7-5. Jordan Flasher relieved Haney and induced Ryan Lollis into a groundout, allowing pinch-runner Curtis Dupart to move up to third. Dupart was singled home by Jonathan Pigott to bring the Kettleers within a run.
Barham, who was responsible for Cotuit’s resurgence and a large part of their defensive effort, was psyched to have made such an impression in his first game in the league. “As a pitcher, you never get to hit,” he said. “I think that was my first hit since my senior year in high school. It’s always nice to play against people who are supposed to be better than you, and it’s awesome to have success against some of the best talent in the country.”
Head coach Mike Roberts appreciated the effort his team made in their late comeback, but he is expecting more from the team in the coming months. “Liked the effort, abhorred the execution,” he deadpanned. “But opening day is always fun, win or lose.”