Story By John S. Condakes
FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2008
FALMOUTH — With a share of first place at stake, the Kettleers tangled with the Falmouth Commodores Friday night at Guv Fuller Field. Chad Bettis (Texas Tech) got the start for Falmouth and was shaky through four and two-thirds innings, while giving up two earned runs on three hits, along with three walks and three strikeouts
The Kettleers’ bats got to work in the top of the second. Center fielder Brett Jackson of Cal Berkeley led off with a walk, and shortstop Michael Gilmartin (Wofford) executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move him into scoring position at second base. Right fielder Dallas Poulk of NC State knocked in Jackson with an RBI single to put Cotuit on the board 1-0. Poulk advanced to third base on a throwing error by Falmouth catcher Trevor Coleman of Missouri. Kettleers designated hitter Matt Holliman of Cumberland cracked a single to right field for his first hit and first RBI in a Cotuit uniform to put the good guys up 2-0 after one and a half.
Cotuit starter Paul Applebee of UC Riverside cruised through the first two innings, but gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Jones of Wichita to start the bottom of the third. Jones did not make it very far on the base paths however, as Applebee picked him off for the first out of the inning. Applebee mowed down the Commodores’ bats until the 5th inning, when he ran into a bit of trouble. Darin Ruf of Creighton led off with a single and teammate Brian Fletcher of Auburn followed with a single of his own.
Catcher Robert Stock of USC started the play of the day for Cotuit when he caught Ruf leaning towards third base and threw an attempted pickoff throw down to second. Stock’s throw bounced into center field where Jackson picked it up and fired it in to first baseman Kevin Patterson of Auburn. Patterson caught Fletcher in no man’s land and tagged him out, then made a spectacular throw across the diamond to third baseman Jeff Kobernus, who tagged out Ruf to complete the not-so-basic 2-8-3-5 double play. Applebee punctuated the end of the inning with a strikeout of designated hitter Michael Thomas and escaped the inning without allowing a run.
Bettis was relived by Shaeffer Hall of Kansas, Nate Striz of NC State, and Preston Claiborne of Tulane. These three combined to hold the Kettleers to a mere three base runners on two walks and a hit batter. The same cannot be said for the Cotuit bullpen, as Coach Mike Roberts elected to pull the southpaw after he gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Coleman in favor of Daniel Wolford of Cal Berkeley. Wolford served a pitch to clean-up hitting second baseman Jimmy Cesario of Houston that was shot over the right field fence to tie the game at 2. The Commodores added another run off of Wolford after Ruf was hit with a pitch and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Fletcher. Thomas drove him home for the game-winning run off of Wolford with a double for the 3-2 score. Closer Ben Toodle of Jacksonville State slammed the door shut on the Kettleers with a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the win.
Applebee finished the game with a line of six innings plus, scattering four hits, with one run, a walk and two strikeouts. “My pitch count was getting a little high [in the sixth] and Wolf battled his butt off,” said Applebee of being taken out. “The first four and a half innings felt pretty good and I was throwing strikes,” he said.
The Kettleers (13-11) are back in action at Lowell Park on Saturday against the Orleans Cardinals at 5 p.m. with another crucial two points at stake.