Story By John S. Condakes
Friday, Aug. 1, 2008
FALMOUTH — Mario Hollands of UC Santa Barbara would be the first one to tell you that he didn’t start off the summer so well. Hollands pitched in his final Cape League game Friday night against the first place Falmouth Commodores and didn’t disappoint as he turned in his second consecutive strong outing to propel his teammates to a 4-2 victory as they try to pave their way to a playoff spot.
“As the summer went on it got better and better on and off the field,” reflected Hollands of his experience on the Cape this summer. The numbers speak for themselves. Hollands has not surrendered an earned run in his last two starts and has put his team in a position to win. Friday night at Falmouth he yielded an unearned run on a wild pitch in the third and that was his only blemish as he gave up only two hits in six innings along with three walks and five strikeouts.
Hollands received some run support in the top of the fifth when catcher Robert Stock of USC led off the inning with a single. He moved to second after free pass was issued to shortstop Michael Gilmartin (Wofford) putting runners on first and second with one out. Third baseman Jeff Kobernus of Cal Berkeley moved them along as he reached on an error to load the bases. Clean up hitter Matt Holliman (Cumberland) drove in Stock on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at one after five innings.
The Kettleers struck again in the top of the sixth when left fielder Jason Kipnis (Arizona State) belted his second home run of the season to put Cotuit up 2-1 after six. The local nine threatened again in the seventh but it was costly as Holliman injured his hamstring on a bang bang play at first. He was called safe and was lifted for pinch runner Brendan Kelliher of George Washington but the Kettleers did not score. Daniel Wolford of Cal Berkeley was called upon by Coach Mike Roberts to relieve Hollands in the seventh. Unfortunately, Wolford was greeted with a leadoff triple by Falmouth third baseman Kevin Nolan of Winthrop. Right fielder Evan Crawford of Indiana made an all-out diving attempt to catch the ball but it somehow got past him allowing Nolan to take three bases. Nolan would score on an RBI groundout by Falmouth right fielder Ryan Jones (Wichita State) on the next play to knot the score once more at two.
The Cotuit bats struck right back on a leadoff single by first baseman Joey Lewis of Georgia who replaced Kevin Patterson of Auburn just before the start of the game. Patterson experienced dizziness but will return to action soon. Lewis advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Dallas Poulk (NC State). Poulk started the game as the designated hitter but Holliman’s hamstring injury in the seventh prompted Roberts to shift Poulk to second thus eliminating the DH spot in the order. Stock reached on an error that scored Lewis to put the good guys up 3-2 after eight. Wolford cruised through the eighth to give his team a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Wolford led off the ninth with the DH position nullified. The Cal Berkeley pitcher walked against the flamethrowing Ben Tootle of Jacksonville State on a 3-2 pitch. Wolford was erased on a close play at second when Crawford hit into a fielder’s choice. Crawford made up for it a few pitches later by stealing his ninth base of the season. Kipnis took advantage of Crawford being in scoring position and drove him in with an RBI single for the 4-2 lead.
Wolford went out again for the ninth but quickly got himself into trouble allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single. Closer Drew Storen of Stanford struck out the first man he faced but then allowed another single to load the bases. With the pressure on, Storen struck out the next two batters to preserve the win for Wolford and to earn the save. The Kettleers remain tied for second with Hyannis after the Mets beat Bourne 3-2 but both teams are now one point back of the first place Commodores. Cotuit returns to action Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. as they travel to Brewster to face the Whitecaps.