story by Steve McCarthy
July 27, 2009
BREWSTER – As the third string on a roster with All-Star catchers Cody Stanley (UNC-Wilmington) and Cameron Rupp (Texas), Cotuit’s Zach Maggard (Florida Southern) must make the most of his opportunities. Maggard served as starting pitcher Jake Buchanan’s battery mate Monday in Brewster after recovering from a hamstring injury and belted a two-run home run in the fourth inning to give Cotuit an early 2-0 advantage en route to a 5-3 win.
“There was a guy on second, so I was just trying to hit behind the runner first pitch,” Maggard said. “I hit the one foul, so then I was sitting dead red fastball again, and he threw it to me. I got lucky that he threw it again. Most times you don’t see two fastballs in a row, so I just turned on it.” Maggard also gunned down an attempted base stealer and advanced into scoring position twice after a walk in the second inning and hit by pitch in the eighth. He was pinch run for by Jeff Rowland (Georgia Tech) while standing on second in the eighth inning. Rowland would eventually score Cotuit’s fifth run.
“I probably on one team have the three most consistent catchers that I’ve probably ever had on a club,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “Between Stanley, Maggard, and Rupp, we are really blessed with our catching situation.”
The win inched Cotuit (16-16-5) to within two points of the Western Division leading Wareham Gatemen, and one point behind second place Bourne. Brewster (14-17-4) remains fourth in the Eastern Division.
Zach Cone (Georgia) provided a two run shot as well in the fifth inning to support Buchanan. Cone’s line drive was aided by a steady breeze to left field and barely cleared to top of the fence.
Buchanan (3-1) did not improve his league leading 0.50 ERA with the win, as he allowed two earned runs of the three that crossed during his seven inning outing. He surrendered seven hits and struck out six. Buchanan has walked one batter in his last three starts.
“They hit a bunch of balls hard, but I guess right at a bunch of guys,” Buchanan said. “That was big for me to get some quick outs. The defense played really well.” Buchanan relied more on his defense than in previous starts with fewer strikeouts. He kept Brewster hitters guessing with a mix of off-speed pitches, and few balls left the infield thanks to the middle infield tandem of shortstop Brandon May (Alabama) and second baseman Chris Bisson (Kentucky).
“I think we’ve somewhat settled on what our infield is going to be now,” Roberts said. “It is showing, and reaping some benefits for us, where that’s been our Achilles heel all summer.”
Buchanan was relieved by closer Daniel Tillman (Florida Southern) in the eighth inning after rolling his ankle trying to beat Brewster’s Niko Gallego (UCLA) to first base on a bunt that Gallego dove into first on to beat the throw. Tillman earned the two inning save (4) with a pair of perfect innings. He struck out two and made quick work of the heart of Brewster’s batting order. “That was big, to see him come in the eighth there early,” Buchanan said. “We pretty much 100 percent got it nailed down for the win. He’s done good all year. You can’t ask for much better.”
Casey Schmidt (San Diego) opposed Buchanan as Brewster’s starting pitcher and gave up four runs on eight hits through six innings. Sean Bierman (Vanderbilt) pitched a scoreless eighth, and newly acquired Kendal Volz (Baylor) allowed Cotuit’s final run in two innings of work.
Brewster brought the game within a run in the seventh inning on one swing of the bat by Harold Martinez (Miami). Martinez’s two run shot to left was never in doubt. It was the third of the season for the All-Star Game Home Run Derby contestant. “That was the first fastball in I threw the whole game,” Buchanan said. “I just left it over the plate, and he made me pay for it.”
The Whitecaps’ first run came in the fourth inning when Tant Shepard’s (Texas) sac-fly to right scored John Barr (Virginia) from third base.
The Kettleers return home to Lowell Park Tuesday to take on the Chatham Anglers at 5 p.m.