Story By John S. Condakes
Friday, July 18, 2008
COTUIT — The stakes were high as Cotuit’s local nine took the field late Friday afternoon against the visiting Falmouth Commodores. A win would have meant two more crucial points in the now heated race for first place in the Western Division as the current leading Hyannis Mets have struggled over their last ten games and have lost four in a row. Unfortunately, no ground was gained by the Kettleers as they dropped a 10-6 decision to Falmouth and wasted another excellent pitching performance by Paul Applebee of UC Riverside.
Exactly one week ago, the Kettleers traveled to Falmouth and sent Applebee to the mound. He pitched exquisitely through six innings but was denied a win due to a lack of run support and the Kettleers lost 3-2. In Friday’s contest, Applebee was almost untouchable until the fifth inning when he gave up a solo home run to the Commodores’ left fielder Brian Fletcher of Auburn that broke a scoreless tie after four and a half. The Kettleers once again failed to provide ample run support for Applebee as they didn’t put a run across until the bottom of the eighth after he had left the game.
With the exception of Fletcher’s dinger and a double in the second inning, Applebee cruised through six innings but showed signs of fatigue in the top of the seventh. He gave up back-to-back singles with no outs and Fletcher got to him again but this time with a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Applebee would then walk first baseman Darin Ruf (Creighton) to force in a run for a 2-0 Commodores lead. Coach Mike Roberts replaced Applebee with NC State’s Sam Brown but he couldn’t escape the mess without allowing Falmouth to cross the dish once more in the inning on an error. The unearned run was charged to Applebee who finished the night giving up six hits in six plus innings, allowing three runs, two earned, three walks and two strikeouts.
The eighth inning was where the real action started in what became a slugfest. Brown gave up a leadoff single to shortstop Joey Wong of Oregon State and then back-to-back doubles for a 4-0 Falmouth lead. The rout was on as Ruf hit an RBI single to make it 6-0 and then an error allowed another run to score for a 7-0 lead. Falmouth center fielder A.J. Pollock (Notre Dame) capped the five run inning with another RBI single for an 8-0 advantage for the Commodores.
The fans began to leave in the middle of the eighth but those who stayed were given a bit of hope. Thursday’s hero, center fielder Jason Kipnis of Arizona State led off with a single and first baseman Kevin Patterson of Auburn followed with his second double of the game to put runners on second and third with no outs. Falmouth pitcher Shaeffer Hall (Kansas) was relieved by Travis Lawler of Florida. Third baseman Jeff Kobernus stepped in to face Lawler and absolutely crushed a pitch to left field that sailed over the fence for a three-run bomb to put Cotuit back in the game at 8-3. Lawler continued to struggle as he walked second baseman Matt Holliman (Cumberland) and gave up a single to right fielder Evan Crawford of Indiana putting runners on first and second with still no outs. Michael Gilmartin stepped up with one out and cracked his second homer of the season over the foul pole in right field.
“I knew that it had a chance to go out, whether it was fair or not was the question,” said the shortstop from Wofford. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere.” Gilmartin switched to the left side of the plate after going 1 for 3 earlier in the game. He was robbed of a single in the seventh on a diving effort by Falmouth’s Brandon Macias (Mt. View CC) but responded with the three run blast to cut the score to 8-6 in favor of the visitors.
USC’s Robert Stock did the unusual switch from catching to pitching in the ninth and allowed two runs to score after walking the first two batters he faced. The Kettleers couldn’t muster another rally against Ben Tootle of Jacksonville State as he sent them down 1-2-3 in the ninth. The loss dropped Cotuit to 15-14-1 on the season and they remained ahead of Falmouth in the standings. Earlier in the day, reliever Danny Meszaros from the College of Charleston agreed to a major league contract and will leave the Cape. Meszaros was a solid reliever for Roberts and will be missed. The Kettleers are back in action on Saturday night against the red-hot Orleans Cardinals at 7 p.m. in Orleans.