By John S. Condakes
JULY 1, 2008
CHATHAM — Another marathon game for the Kettleers but this time the result ended with a much-needed win in the rubber game of the three game road trip. Cotuit pulled out a 6-5 victory off one of the league’s best closers in Brad Boxburger (USC) in front of a packed crowd at Veterans Field in against the Athletics. Catcher Robert Stock, teammate of Boxburger during the college baseball season delivered the game-winning hit in the top of the tenth after going 0-4 on the night.
“I was 0 for my last 12 and I had caught Brad all year so there was nothing he was throwing that I hadn’t seen,” said Stock in a post-game interview.
The Kettleers opened the game with a threat in the first but Chatham starter Jake Thompson of Long Beach State induced first baseman Kevin Patterson of Auburn to ground into the double play. Cotuit starter Nate Garcia (UC Santa Clara) made his third appearance of the season on the rubber and was a bit shaky through his four innings of shutout baseball but he was able to keep the A’s off of the scoreboard. Garcia’s line went four innings, three hits, no runs, three walks and three strikeouts but he was not involved in the decision so his record remains at 1-0.
The Kettleers’ offense awoke in the top of the second thanks to a leadoff single by left fielder Evan Crawford (Indiana). Second baseman Dallas Poulk of NC State followed with a walk and right fielder Jeff Schaus (Clemson) hit a single to load the bases with nobody out for Stock. Stock struck out swinging to begin what would be a tough night all-around for the catcher until his heroics in the tenth. Shortstop Jason Kipnis of Arizona State provided the game’s first run with an RBI single scoring Crawford to put the good guys up 1-0. Designated hitter Mike Bianucci of Auburn returned to the lineup for the first time in two games and reached on an error. He missed last game due to a bruised leg and looked to be running at about 80 percent speed on the basepaths. Bianucci’s efforts scored Poulk for the 2-0 lead and Schaus followed him home on a wild pitch to make the score 3-0 Cotuit after one and a half.
Garcia was pulled in favor of Georgia Tech’s Brandon Cumpton who had a lot of trouble against the A’s in an inning and a third. Cumpton gave up a run in the fifth but got Kyle Seager of North Carolina to ground into a 3-6-3 double play in his third-ever Cape League at-bat to end the threat. The sixth inning did not bode so well for Cumpton as he surrendered three runs and the lead on three doubles and a single to put Chatham up 4-3.
Cumpton’s teammate at Georgia Tech, Zach Von Tersch, came on to preserve the tie and was outstanding in relief through three innings. The Kettleers battled back to tie it up at 4 in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Poulk after Crawford reached on a double to left center field. Cotuit took the lead in the top of the ninth on an RBI double by third baseman Jeff Kobernus of UC Berkeley after Patterson broke out of his 0-for-4 on the night with a single to score the go-ahead run making it 5-4 Kettleers going into the bottom of the ninth.
With Von Tersch back on the hill, the A’s Joe Mercurio of Maine reached on a walk to start the inning. Mercurio moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then was knocked home by Grant Green’s (USC) RBI single to tie the game at 5. Drew Storen of Stanford came on to retire designated hitter Victor Sanchez (San Diego) with one pitch to preserve the tie.
Having lost in the tenth last night and their last three contests by one run, the Kettleers definitely wanted to pull this one out for a win. The cross-town rival Hyannis Mets dropped a 4-0 decision to the Falmouth Commodores so a win would give Cotuit some much-needed breathing room atop the Cape League’s Western Division. Poulk ignited the rally with a single and Schaus reached on an error to put runners at first and second with one out. Stock stepped in and knew exactly what to do with his teammate Boxburger on the mound. With a 2-0 count, he spanked a base hit to right field scoring Poulk and putting the Kettleers up 6-5 in the tenth.
“It’s not like I smoked the ball or anything but it was a 2-0 count and I just wanted to be aggressive up there,” said Stock. Storen came on for the tenth and simply overmatched the A’s to earn his first win of the season as he struck out the first and third batters to end the game.
Prior to the game the Kettleers announced some player movements as Dan Black was released from his contract. Shortstop Robbie Shields has suffered a season-ending injury with a broken bone in his wrist and will return home some time next week. This is a crippling blow to the Kettleers offensively and defensively as well as the sure-handed Shields departs with a .349 batting average with 2 home runs and 11 RBI which is still good enough for tenth in the league in hitting. Michael Gilmartin will also be re-joining the roster to provide some much-needed depth in the infield. The win ended Cotuit’s first losing streak of the season at three games and upped their record to 9-5. The Kettleers will return home to Lowell Park for the first time in what has seemed like an eternity to face the Bourne Braves at 5 p.m. as they try to put together another winning streak.