Story By John S. Condakes
Sunday, July 20, 2008
COTUIT — The local nine have been in a bit of a slump lately having gone 3-7 in their last ten before their contest on Sunday. The Harwich Mariners came to town with another important two points hanging in the balance as both clubs vied for position in their respective playoff races. Harwich out-battled Cotuit to come out with a 4-3 victory.
Mario Hollands got the start for the Kettleers but had a tough first inning as he surrendered a run to the Mariners. Leadoff man D.J. Belfonte of Nebraska reached on a single and was knocked in by shortstop D.J. Lemahiu of LSU for an early 1-0 Harwich advantage. Hollands then got into a groove and did not let up another hit.
The home team struck back in the bottom of the third as second baseman Matt Holliman of Cumberland stroked a double to the power alley in right center with one out. Catcher Robert Stock of USC followed with a single to right to put runners on first and third with one out. Leadoff hitter Jeff Kobernus of Cal Berkeley responded with a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Holliman and knot the score at 1 apiece. Left fielder Brett Jackson (Cal Berkeley) was nailed in the hand on an offering by Harwich’s Chris Manno (Duke) but would remain in the game to put runners on first and second with two outs. The Kettleers added another run on a single by All-Star first baseman Kevin Patterson of Auburn for a 2-1 lead after three.
Hollands pitched brilliantly and effectively through six innings allowing only the one run on two hits striking out six and walking none. He also hit a man in the third inning and that was the only other Mariner to reach base.
Daniel Wolford of Cal Berkeley replaced Hollands and worked a perfect seventh but couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead in the eighth. After the leadoff man Mark Fleury (UNC) reached on a questionable error by Patterson he moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt by first baseman Jeff Cusick (UC Irvine). Fleury would later score on an RBI single by Belfonte to tie the score up at two and deny Hollands of a well-deserved win.
“Throwing the change up in a lot of situations got me a lot of groundouts,” explained Hollands. He also joked that his new haircut may be responsible for such a successful outing.
The Kettleers battled back to squeeze a run across in the bottom of the eighth. Harwich starter Chris Manno (Duke) exited the game with one out after walking Patterson. Center fielder Jason Kipnis of Arizona State welcomed Mariners reliever Sean Black (Seton Hall) with a double to the gap in right center to put runners on second and third with one out. Patterson was lifted for pinch runner Sam Brown (a pitcher from NC State) for some added speed on the basepaths. With two outs, designated hitter Dallas Poulk (NC State) got Brown across with a little nubber to the right side of the infield that the Harwich infielders couldn’t handle for a 3-2 Cotuit lead heading into the ninth.
But the Mariners wouldn’t go quietly. With closer Drew Storen of Stanford on for the Kettleers, Harwich catcher Tommy Medica (UC Santa Clara) reached on an error and Brandon Belt (Texas) took Storen deep for a 4-3 Harwich lead. Steve Kalush of UC Santa Clara came on for the bottom of the inning and allowed Stock to reach on an error but recovered to slam the door on the Kettleers. Cotuit dropped to 15-16-1 and are now under .500 for the first time all season. The Kettleers return to action Monday night at home against their division opponents the Wareham Gatemen. Game time is set for 5 p.m.