Story by Steve McCarthy and photos by Grace Archambeault
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
HARWICH – The Cotuit Kettleers left Whitehouse Field Wednesday night feeling much better about the result than they did last August, as everything went their way in a 7-0 rout of the Harwich Mariners.
The re-match of the 2008 Cape Cod Baseball League Championship was initially scheduled for a week earlier as the first game of the season on the Cape, but was postponed twice due to rain. It was finally played in front of a sparse Harwich crowd that didn’t have much to cheer about.
Harwich managed just four hits in the game, to Cotuit’s ten. Chris Bisson (Kentucky) tripled in the sixth inning for the Mariners, but was left stranded.
Cotuit starting pitcher Brandon Cumpton (1-0, Georgia Tech), a returner from the 2008 squad, pitched eight shutout innings, and Cory Vaughn (San Diego St.) and Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina) each homered to go with a second straight error-free game, giving the Kettleers their best all-around performance of the season.
“You get a great outing from your pitcher, and you get some runs early, then certainly everybody gets confidence,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “We’ve been pretty much playing from behind until tonight.”
Vaughn and Noel each went 3-for-4 at the plate to snap out of mediocre starts to the season. Vaughn connected on a 1-2 pitch from Harwich starter Justin Wright (Virginia Tech) for a grand slam, after Jeff Rowland (Georgia Tech) led off the inning with a triple and Wright walked the next two batters.
“I had two strikes on me and I was really just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard somewhere, and get it up into the outfield and get a sac-fly or something,” Vaughn said. “But he hung it up in the air, a change-up, up and in. I just threw the hands, and it carried well for me.”
Wright (0-1) took the loss for Harwich (2-3-0) after allowing five earned runs in four innings pitched. Brian Dupra (Notre Dame) pitched the next four, allowing Noel to score on a fielder’s choice and the solo home run. John Gast (Florida State) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Mariners.
Noel scored three runs in the game and stole three bases, giving him seven for the season. He trails Chris Bisson (Kentucky) for the team lead with eleven. Bisson has stolen at least one base in every game for the Kettleers. Cotuit had six steals Wednesday between Noel, Bisson, and Zach Maggard (Florida Southern).
Noel scored the first run of the game in the first inning on a suicide squeeze. Maggard also had a multi-hit night for Cotuit, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
Cumpton had the longest outing of Cotuit’s starting rotation so far this season, who have not allowed an earned run since Mike Nesseth (Nebraska) allowed one in the first inning of the season against Wareham.
“The first inning was a little shaky,” Cumpton said. “But after that, I kind of got in a rhythm and just tried to throw strikes and get ahead.”
Cumpton allowed more than one base runner in an inning just once, and struck out three while walking two.
“(Cumpton) had two or three really good games at the end of the year for us last year, and I thought he just sort of picked up right there,” Roberts said.
Ben Rowen (Virginia Tech) made his fourth appearance out of the bullpen and shut the door on Harwich’s comeback hopes in the ninth after they loaded the bases.
The Kettleers (3-1-1) are on the road for one more night Thursday, travelling to Orleans for a 7 p.m. game.