Story By John S. Condakes
Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008
WAREHAM — Brandon Cumpton (Georgia Tech) didn’t even know he would be pitching against the Gatemen on Tuesday night until that afternoon. Coach Mike Roberts sat down with his pitching staff and explained that five of his pitchers would be getting work in Wareham. Cumpton responded well to the call and earned the win as the Kettleers cruised into first place in the Western Division with a 10-2 victory over the lowly Gatemen.
Centerfielder Brett Jackson jumpstarted the Cotuit offense in the top of the first when he reached on a fielding error. Sacrifice bunt specialist and shortstop Michael Gilmartin of Wofford followed with a bunt to move Jackson into scoring position at second base. Jackson advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Wareham starter Dallas Keuchel (Arkansas) and scored on an RBI groundout by catcher Joey Lewis (Georgia) to put the Kettleers up 1-0 early on. Cotuit got a second run off the bat of rejuvenated first baseman Kevin Patterson of Auburn. Patterson (3-5, HR, two runs) missed some time battling an illness but came back to blast his fourth home run of the season over the fence in right field to put give Cumpton a 2-0 cushion to work with.
The Kettleers sent 10 men to the plate in the top of the fourth inning and put up a crooked five spot on the scorecard. Right fielder Evan Crawford of Indiana (2-3, 3 runs scored) celebrated his twentieth birthday with a leadoff double. The two-bagger would have left the yard in left center had the wind not been blowing in. Crawford advanced to third on a bunt single by second baseman Dallas Poulk of NC State. Third baseman Jeff Kobernus of Cal Berkeley laid down a bunt to score Crawford and advance Poulk to give the Kettleers a 3-0 lead. Patterson followed with his second hit of the night and designated hitter Robert Stock of USC continued his hot hitting with an RBI single to plate Poulk for the 4-0 lead. Jackson walked to load the bases and Lewis walked with two outs and the bases loaded to plate Patterson. Finally, left fielder Jason Kipnis of Arizona State got in on the act with a 2 RBI single to put the Kettleers up 7-0 after three and half.
Cumpton was outstanding through the first five innings but got into some trouble in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and one on he served up a pitch to Wareham first baseman Aaron Baker of Oklahoma that Baker belted over the fence in right field to get Wareham their first and only runs of the game to make the score 7-2. The righty from Georgia Tech finished with a line of five and two thirds innings pitched allowing two earned runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“The fastball and curveball were working great today,” said Cumpton. “I didn’t think I’d get to go all five for the win but I got on a roll so that was nice,” he said.
Sam Brown of NC State relieved Cumpton with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and retired the final batter. Brown allowed two hits but didn’t give up a run and had two strikeouts in another solid outing. John Lambert, who will join Brown at NC State in the fall, followed his future teammate with an inning and a third of work. The tall reliever didn’t allow a hit or run and had a walk and a strikeout. The Kettleers added a run on some sloppy play by Wareham in the seventh as Crawford scored on a wild pitch after leading off with a walk. Crawford scored again in the top of the ninth after leading off with a single and once again scoring on a wild pitch. Poulk followed him home on another wild pitch to make the score an even 10-2.
Closer Drew Storen of Stanford got some work in the bottom of the ninth and retired the hapless Gatemen in order after striking out the leadoff hitter. The Kettleers will host their cross-town rivals the Hyannis Mets for their final home game at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Lowell Park. The Kettleers currently sit atop the Western Division with 46 points while the Mets are in third place with 44. Cotuit will look to try and solidify their chances of making the playoffs with a win on Wednesday in what is shaping up to be the most important game of the season for the local nine.