By Jessica Isner, Staff Writer
July 5, 2007
LOWELL PARK, COTUIT, MA — Bottom of the eighth, down by a run.
For most teams, that signifies the time to pack it in and scribble another mark in the loss column. However, the Kettleers aren’t most teams this year.
After staking an early lead and eventually succumbing to an Orleans’ rally, Cotuit made another late comeback on Thursday night to steal the win, 7-6. Garrett Richards, who pitched four solid innings of relief, garnered his first win of the season, and Missouri slugger Ryan Lollis knocked in the winning runs in a 2-for-4 performance.
The cards didn’t seem to favor Cotuit — pun intended — judging by the starting pitching matchup. Michigan’s Chris Fetter, who struggled through three appearances this summer on his way to a seven-plus ERA, was pitted against Michael Schwimer, who boasted a 0.00 ERA entering the contest.
Fetter worked around a one-out single in the first inning, punctuating his effort with a strikeout, before the Kettleers struck early in the bottom of the frame. Cincinnati’s Josh Harrison led off with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on an error by the catcher, and came around to score on a single to left by Ryne White. It was Schwimer’s first surrendered run of the season.
However, the Kettleers offense wasn’t quite done yet. Mike Bianucci of Auburn led off the second inning with a solo shot before Lollis singled to left for his first hit of the game. He was stranded there after Schwimer was able to retire the side.
For the third straight inning, the Kettleers got their leadoff man on base- this time, on another hit by White. He was driven in by Reese Havens to give Cotuit the 3-0 advantage.
Fetter plowed through the Orleans’ lineup through the first four innings, the only blemish coming with two outs in the fourth on a solo home run by Brandon Crawford. However, when he allowed a second homer in the fifth inning and then gave up a single to the next batter, he was lifted in favor of Richards, who got out of the inning to preserve Cotuit’s lead.
Fetter’s final line- two runs on six hits with only one walk and five strikeouts- was a relief, considering the trouble the team’s pitching staff has faced over the past few weeks.
In the top of the seventh, Richards allowed the Cardinals to crawl back into the lead on a two-out, two-RBI single to Chase D’Arnaud. Head coach Mike Roberts elected to stick with the flamethrower, though, and Richards was able to keep the Kettleers in the game long enough for the offense to pick him back up.
In the bottom of the eighth, Cotuit registered five consecutive hits to begin the inning and jumped back out to a 6-4 lead, courtesy of Lollis’ second hit of the night, a two-RBI double down the line. Defensive replacement Tony Delmonico padded the lead with another run on a sacrifice bunt.
The excitement wasn’t over yet, though. After quickly getting the first two outs of the ninth, Richards walked Jon Gaston and then could only watch as Dennis Raben blasted a two-run home run somewhere into the woods encasing Lowell Park. After he walked D’Armaud, Roberts pulled catcher Robert Stock out from behind home plate and planted him on the mound. Stock threw two strikes to Jose Jiminez before D’Armaud was caught trying to steal second to end the game.
“I feel like I snaked that win,” Richards said after the game, “but it feels good. I kept the ball low for the most part, and the defense was awesome behind me.”
“I think we’re jelling well as a team right now, which is good in tight games like these,” Lollis added. “We’re coming through in the clutch and we’re picking each other up, and that’s how baseball goes.”