story by Steve McCarthy
July 17, 2009
COTUIT – Falmouth All-Star outfielder Todd Cunningham has swung a hot bat all summer. Friday he was joined by teammates Chris O’Brien and Jason Esposito to form a three-headed monster that factored into all of the Commodores’ runs in an 8-3 win against the Cotuit Kettleers at Lowell Park.
Cunningham (Jacksonville St.) raised his Western Division leading .368 batting average with a 4-for-5 night, providing two RBI’s and two runs scored. He doubled to go with three singles. “Todd’s a machine,” O’Brien said. “He’s something else for his dedication, and he’s coming to the park early just to play.”
O’Brien (Wichita St.) went 2-for-5 and drove in four runs. Esposito (Vanderbilt) also went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. “I just try to put the bat on the ball, and just see what happens from there,” O’Brien said.
Falmouth (9-15-1) entered the game last in the Western Division, but they were not intimidated by the momentum of a Cotuit team that had won four of their previous six games. The Commodores pounded out 15 hits and committed just one error to hold the Kettleers (12-13-4) in check.
“I always say there’s no such thing as a bad team in this league,” Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. “You can be in last, but you’re still not a bad team. It’s just a matter of how well you play that given evening, and minimize mistakes, and take advantage of the opportunities that you have.”
An expected pitchers’ duel between Cotuit starter Justin Grimm (Georgia) and Falmouth’s Tommy Collier (San Jacinto CC) favored Collier. After surrendering a Cory Vaughn (San Diego St.) home run in the second inning and two runs in the third, Collier settled into a groove and finished his six inning outing with three 1-2-3 innings. He earned the win (3-2), allowing two earned runs on four hits and struck out five. He also walked one.
“Tommy came out early, got hit a little bit, but he didn’t let that get to him,” O’Brien, Collier’s battery mate said. “He settled in and started making quality pitches.”
Grimm fell to 0-4 with the loss. He lasted five innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on ten hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Charlie Lowell (Wichita St.) struck out four Cotuit batters in two innings of relief for the Commodores. Jason Zylstra (Jacksonville St.) left runners stranded on first and second in the ninth to finish the game.
The Kettleers were plagued by infield errors that contributed to a six game losing streak a week ago. Falmouth took a 2-0 lead in their first at bat when Cotuit second baseman Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina) threw the ball into the crowd attempting to turn a double play. His first of two throwing errors allowed Cunningham and Scott Lawson (Miami) to score from second and third.
“Those things are going to happen,” Trundy said. “That’s part of a game. They may go out tomorrow night and flash leather around and you wouldn’t think it’s the same club.”
Cunningham’s RBI-singles in the second and fourth innings drove in Esposito from second base both times to give Falmouth a 4-3 lead. The Commodores scored two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to pull away.
Southpaw Matt Grace (UCLA) was effective in four innings of relief for Cotuit. He allowed two runs in the sixth but faced four batters in each of the last three innings.
Vaughn’s shot over the left field fence was the most impressive swing of the Kettleers’ seven hits. The ball carried into the woods despite splitting his bat up the middle.
Zack Cox (Arkansas) returned from a finger injury to provide an opposite field RBI-double in the third inning. Kevin Keyes (Texas) had the other RBI from the leadoff spot, driving in Noel from second with a single to right field.