Story By John S. Condakes
Sunday, Aug. 3 , 2008
COTUIT — The Kettleers earned another crucial two points in what has become a very tight playoff race in the Western Division as they defeated the visiting Falmouth Commodores 3-1. Starter Nick Hernandez of Tennessee tossed an excellent seven and two thirds innings to earn his league-leading sixth win of the summer.
The Cotuit bats spotted Hernandez a 1-0 lead in the first inning after center fielder Brett Jackson (Cal Berkeley) led off with a walk and shortstop Michael Gilmartin of Wofford stroked an RBI double to knock him in. Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the second but bounced back to retire the final three batters in order to maintain the 1-0 lead. The Commodores broke through against Hernandez in the top of the third on back-to-back singles by center fielder A.J. Pollock (Notre Dame) and first baseman Darin Ruf (Creighton). With Pollock on third, third baseman Kevin Nolan of Winthrop drove a deep fly ball to left field allowing Pollock to score on the sacrifice fly to tie the score at one apiece. The one run would be all the Commodores would get against Cotuit pitching.
Falmouth starter Nate Karns of Texas Tech also pitched well but the Kettleers forced him from the game in the bottom of the seventh after a leadoff walk by designated hitter Evan Crawford of Indiana. Karns finished with a final line of six-plus innings pitched allowing two earned runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts as he suffered the loss. Aaron Loup of Tulane came on in relief of Karns and gave up a two-out RBI single to catcher Robert Stock of USC to put the home team up 2-1 after seven. That would be all that Hernandez would need as he left with two outs and one on in the top of the eighth after he allowed designated hitter Trevor Coleman (Missouri) to reach on a single.
Closer Drew Storen of Stanford was called upon once again to seal the deal for the Kettleers and walked Ruf after he inherited a 2-0 count left by Hernandez. He then bore down to retire Nolan on a deep fly ball to right field that was caught by Jason Kipnis of Arizona State. The Kettleers added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth after Jackson led off with a single to right field. Gilmartin bunted him over to second on a sacrifice and Jackson score on an RBI single by first baseman Joey Lewis of Georgia for the 3-1 lead.
“That last run that we got was huge,” said Storen. “I like the pressure but it certainly helped me concentrate on just getting outs and not protecting a one-run lead.” The Freshman All-American recorded the final three outs with ease as the Kettleers defeated the Commodores for the second consecutive time in the last three days. Cotuit took a much-needed two points after Saturday night’s loss at the hands of the Brewster Whitecaps and will travel to Chatham on Monday to face the Athletics for another important two points towards their push for the playoffs. The first pitch will be thrown at 7 p.m.