Story By John S. Condakes
Thursday, July 31, 2008
HYANNIS — You can’t have everything. Seth Blair (Arizona State) saw his scoreless inning streak end at a whopping twenty four and a third innings at the hands of the Hyannis Mets but the Cotuit bats produced more than enough run support as they earned a 12-2 victory. The win puts the Kettleers and Mets in a tie for second place in the Western Division as the push for the playoffs rolls on.
Cal Berkeley centerfielder Brett Jackson led the game off with a walk and immediately put pressure on Hyannis starter Matt Ridings (Western Kentucky) as he stole second base. Ridings had some control issues in the first as he threw the first of many pitches in the dirt that catcher Dale Cornstubble of Central Michigan was unable to block. His first wild offering allowed Jackson to advance to third and finally a passed ball by Cornstubble allowed Jackson to score with no one out. Shortstop Michael Gilmartin of Wofford once again hit second and reached on an infield single. Third baseman Jeff Kobernus of Cal Berkeley followed suit and reached on a walk as well and both he and Gilmartin advanced to second and third on another passed ball by Cornstubble. Ridings then bore down to retire the next three batters as he avoided any further damage.
With the exception of a leadoff infield single by Hyannis right fielder Trent Ashcraft (East Carolina), Seth Blair was once again phenomenal as he retired nine in a row through the first three innings while the Kettleers added more runs. With two outs in the second, catcher Joey Lewis of Georgia continued to swing a red-hot bat as he stroked a double. Jackson once again walked and the two scored on a two-out, 2 RBI double by Gilmartin to put Cotuit up 3-0. The score would remain the same until Lewis stepped up to bat again in the top of the fourth and unloaded his second home run of the season over the left field fence for a 4-0 lead. Hyannis tried to answer as the first two hitters reached but Blair pulled the first of many escape acts on the night and didn’t let them advance to maintain his shutout streak.
The Kettleers welcomed Hyannis reliever Ryan Sharpley of Notre Dame very roughly. Gilmartin led off with his third hit of the game and then Kobernus, second baseman Matt Holliman (Cumberland) and designated hitter Dallas Poulk, who entered the game mid-at-bat for an injured Jeff Schaus (Clemson) all laid down perfect bunts. Holliman was called out on a very close play at first but advanced the runners to second and third. Poulk’s bunt rolled into no-man’s-land allowing Gilmartin to come across with the fifth Cotuit run. All-Star first baseman Kevin Patterson stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs. Patterson didn’t balk at the opportunity to break the game open and ripped a two-out, 2 RBI double down the right field line to put the Kettleers up 7-0. The rout was on. Lewis followed by hitting a high fly ball to center field that was misplayed by Hyannis center fielder Marcus Jones of NC State to allow two more runs to score and put the good guys up 9-0.
Blair continued to handle the Mets’ bats well until they finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh. The righty allowed the first three batters to reach before he induced a groundball and started a 1-2-3 double play to put runners on second and third with two outs. Jones made up for his blunder in center field with a two out, 2 RBI single to get the home team on the board but that would be all they would get on the night as Blair scattered three more hits over the final two innings to go the distance for the win. He finished with a line of nine innings, allowing nine hits, two runs, four strikeouts while walking only two and hit a batter.
The Kettleers finished the scoring in the eighth when Jackson led off with his third walk of the night and stole his second base of the game. He took third on the throw and scored on an RBI double by his Cal Berkeley teammate Kobernus for the 10-2 lead. Holliman was the final Kettleer to reach base safely as all nine hitters did with the exception of the injured Schaus. Kobernus and Holliman advanced to second and third on a fielder’s choice hit by Poulk as Hyannis second baseman Matt Nuzzo (Brown) made a diving play to save a run. Unfortunately for the Mets, Nuzzo’s play couldn’t prevent right fielder Evan Crawford (Indiana) from driving in the final two runs on the night with a 2 RBI single for the 12-2 final score.
“It was a huge win for us in a big fashion,” explained Jackson. “You need something to lift you with seven games left and to beat them like after so many close games was huge.” The two teams are now tied for second place in the West. The Kettleers will travel to Falmouth for a bout with the first place Commodores as they continue their quest for a playoff berth. Game time is set for 7 p.m. under the lights.