story by Steve McCarthy
July 28, 2009
COTUIT – Zack Cox scored twice from the leadoff spot and Ben Rowen completed a 2 2/3 inning save as the Cotuit Kettleers held off the Chatham Anglers 2-1 Tuesday at Lowell Park.
The submarine style right-hander out of Virginia Tech was more dominant than in any other relief appearance this summer. It was his first save despite leading the Kettleers’ bullpen with 15 appearances, as he is typically utilized by manager Mike Roberts in a set-up role. “There’s no question, that was his best outing of the year,” Roberts said.
Rowen entered the game with one out in the seventh inning and a 2-0 count on Chatham’s Addison Johnson (Clemson) left by Navery Moore (Vanderbilt). Rowen got Johnson to ground into an inning ending double play, before retiring the final six batters in order. He struck out the side in the eighth and induced three fly balls in the ninth. “My fastball was moving like it should, and my slider I could back door that on the lefties, and that’s when it’s effective the most,” Rowen said.
Cotuit starting pitcher Craig Fritsch (Baylor) was relieved by Moore after allowing Chatham’s only run in the fourth inning. He allowed three hits through 3 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out two. Moore then allowed the Anglers’ final hit in the middle 2 2/3 innings and earned his first win (1-1). “(Moore) was more confident tonight,” Roberts said. “Not in all of his pitches, but overall his control and his poise on the mound was much better.”
The Kettleers (17-16-5) have put a pair of wins together before they hit the road Wednesday to battle the Bourne Braves, who lead the Kettleers by one point in the Western Division standings.
Chatham starting pitcher Mike Dennhardt (2-3, Boston College) allowed both runs and took the loss. Taylor Hill (Vanderbilt) pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The Anglers (17-20-0) have lost seven in a row and are in danger of falling out of playoff contention.
According to Coach Roberts, Cox served as an unorthodox leadoff hitter Tuesday because Cape League stolen base leader Chris Bisson (Kentucky) was feeling ill before the game. Cox went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles. He accounted for both Cotuit runs as he was driven in from second by Tony Plagman’s (Georgia Tech) RBI-double in the first inning and from third on a sac-fly in the sixth inning by pinch-hitter Bisson. “Sometimes in the leadoff spot I look for somebody who’s hot, because you never know if they’re going to get that extra bat in the ninth inning,” Roberts said. “Zack right now has been sort of our hottest hitter, and that’s the reason I put him up there.”
Bisson showed warning track power in his only at bat of the night with a drive to center field that allowed Cox to score easily. “I can get on base, but I can’t get in if they don’t score me,” Cox said. “It was nice to see those guys come out and do well and help me out.”
Cotuit pitching limited Chatham to just four hits. Whit Merrifield’s (South Carolina) leadoff double in the first inning was the Anglers’ only extra base hit. The Anglers failed to push across runners on third four times. Their lone run came in the fourth inning when Matthew Perry (Holy Cross) scored on a Dean Green (Oklahoma St.) RBI-single.
The pitchers were backed by crucial plays in the field. Center fielder Jeff Rowland (Georgia Tech) sprinted toward the fence and made an over the shoulder grab for the third out in the sixth inning that left Perry stranded on third.
“That’s a big league play right there,” Cox said. “Not only did he get a great jump, but he covered a lot of ground to catch that ball. That could have been a difference maker in the game, but him making that play changes everything.”
In the fourth inning, with runners on first and third the Anglers sent Brian Harris (Vanderbilt) from first on a steal attempt. Moore tried to intercept the throw down to second, but instead tipped the ball with his glove towards second baseman Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina), who gunned down Green breaking for the plate.
Cotuit’s game on Wednesday at Doran Park in Bourne will get underway at 6 p.m.