story by Steve McCarthy
July 18, 2009
HARWICH – Four different Cotuit players provided early RBI’s, and All-Star closer Daniel Tillman shut the door in the ninth inning for his second save as the Kettleers beat the Harwich Mariners 4-1 Saturday at Whitehouse Field.
The Mariners (11-16-0) have now lost four straight and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Division. Cotuit (13-13-4) brought their record back to .500 and moved into a tie for second place in the Western Division with the Bourne Braves. They trail the division leading Wareham Gatemen by two points.
Cotuit starting pitcher Chad Bell (Tennessee) saw his streak of 15 and one-third no-hit innings come to an end in the second inning Saturday when Connor Powers (Mississippi St.) led off with a single. Bell went seven strong innings though in his fifth start to earn the win (3-1). He allowed one run on six hits and struck out seven, while walking just one batter.
“They hit some balls hard, but my defense made a bunch of good plays behind me,” Bell said. “I had them working behind me, and it was just really easy to get in a good rhythm.”
Trent Mummey (Auburn) was the only Harwich batter to give Bell repeated trouble. He tripled in consecutive at bats and scored the lone run in a 2-for-4 night.
“For the most part I think I fell behind a lot to him,” Bell said. “I ended up just having to keep throwing him fastballs, and he was a good enough hitter to know it was coming and sat on it.”
Mummey’s two triples gave him three for the season, but he had some competition from six-foot four 225-pound Kevin Keyes (Texas), who turned on the speed in his second at bat for a three-bagger of his own for Cotuit. “That’s probably the farthest I’ve ran in about three months,” Keyes joked. “It was a good momentum change for our offense. We were rolling with our bats today, and it’s something good that we always look for in a game.”
Cameron Rupp (Texas), Zach Cone (Georgia), Zack Cox (Arkansas), and Brandon May (Alabama) each drove in runs in the first four innings to stake a 4-0 lead for Cotuit.
“When any team comes out and scores runs in the first few innings, you know that they’re ready to play, and it’s going to be tough for the other team,” Rupp said. “That’s why we came out early; we were aggressive at the plate, and aggressive on the base paths.”
Harwich starting pitcher Mathew Price (Virginia Tech) was responsible for all four runs and took the loss (2-1) in his first start of nine appearances. He also allowed Cotuit’s eight hits, but struck out seven in five and two-thirds innings.
Cox doubled into scoring position in the first inning for the right-handed hitter Rupp to single him in with an opposite field line drive through the first and second base hole.
Chris Bisson (Kentucky) led off the second inning with a walk and moved over to third on a Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina) sac-bunt and a stolen base, then trotted in on Cone’s single down the left field line. Bisson had two steals in the game to raise his league leading season total to 23.
In the fourth inning, Noel beat out a throw to first by Harwich shortstop Levi Michael (UNC) that was wide anyway and moved up to second on the error. Noel then utilized his speed to score on a groundout by May.
Harwich committed three errors in the game. Two were credited to Michael.
Cox drove in Cone later in the inning to cap the scoring with a line drive into the left-center field gap. Cox, Cone, and Keyes all had two hits apiece.
The Kettleers were fortunate to have the four run lead hold up, as Harwich reliever Justin Wright (Virginia Tech) did not allow a hit for the remainder of the game and walked just one batter.
Mike Nesseth (Nebraska) came in as the set-up man for the Kettleers in the eighth inning, and two Harwich base-runners got aboard with one out on a throwing error by Noel and a walk. Nesseth then retired the next two batters to get out of the inning. He and Tillman each recorded a strikeout and did not allow a hit.
“Daniel’s been there all year,” Bell said. “If we just get him to that point, I think everybody in the dugout is really confident with him going out there and getting the last three outs of the game.”