story by Steve McCarthy
August 8, 2009
SOUTH YARMOUTH – The Cotuit Kettleers resorted to small ball, mistakes by their opponent and a little trickery to finally break the hold of Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox ace Chris Sale (Florida Gulf Coast) in the ninth inning Saturday and rally for a 3-0 win in the opening game of the best of three second round playoff series at Red Wilson Field.
The series moves to Cotuit’s Lowell Park on Sunday with a 3 p.m. start.
Sale and Cotuit starter Chad Bell (Walters St. JC) dueled through eight innings and found success in contrasting ways. Sale struck out 10 and faced the minimum through the first six innings, while Bell was backed by a defense that converted four consecutive inning ending double plays.
“I couldn’t ask for much more,” Bell said. “They didn’t hit many balls in the air, and when I did get in trouble giving up a hit or a walk I got a ground ball right to somebody.”
Bell (4-1) allowed just one Y-D base runner to advance beyond second base, and all six hits allowed, three each by Blake Kelso (Houston) and Mickey Wiswall (Boston College), were singles.
“When you got the one and four hitter that have six hits their first six times at the plate, then we had to be really blessed to do something in the middle,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “And it was the double play ball.”
When Kelso slid safely into second in the sixth inning thanks to a low throw from Cotuit third baseman Kevin Patterson (Auburn), he took a lead and watched Bell on the mound without realizing shortstop Chris Bisson (Kentucky) still had the ball.
“I looked at the first base coach, I looked at the third base coach. Nobody was looking around and I just said ‘I’ll keep it’,” Bisson said.
Bisson attempted the “Hidden Ball Trick” once early in the season at a game in Chatham, but was so effective it even caught the umpires not paying attention.
“I told the umpire at the beginning of the game that we might try to do it,” Bisson said. “That was huge- first and second, with nobody out. That could have been a big difference in the game.”
The three Cotuit runs that crossed in the final inning were aboard before Sale (4-3) was relieved without recording an out. Just one was earned. Sale surrendered six hits and walked one. Two of his losses have come against Cotuit.
“They made two mistakes, and we just took advantage of it,” Bisson said. “That’s how you win games sometimes against pitchers like that.”
Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina) singled to lead off the inning and moved over to third as Bisson bunted back to Sale but the throw was mishandled by Y-D first baseman Brian Hernandez (UC Irvine). With runners on first and third, Zach Cone (Georgia) lined an RBI-single into left field that drove in Noel.
Y-D reliever Chase Dempsay (Houston) entered to face the powerful bat of Patterson, but Patterson dropped down a bunt to move Bisson over. Normally sure fielding catcher Micah Gibbs (LSU) attempted to gun down Bisson breaking for third but an errant throw allowed Bisson to score. Cone advanced to third on the play and scored Cotuit’s third run on a sac-fly by Cody Stanley (UNC-Wilmington).
Cotuit closer Daniel Tillman (Florida Southern) retired Y-D’s 3-4-5 hitters in the bottom of the inning to earn his sixth save.
“In a playoff game I thought it was pretty normal not to see a lot in the first five or six innings,” Roberts said. “You know that it’s probably going to come down to the last two or three innings, and who gets a break.”
The Kettleers limited depth was squeezed even more when it was announced that center fielder Jeff Rowland (Georgia Tech) had left the team for personal reasons. With nine positional players remaining on the roster, Stanley made his first start in the outfield after catching 34 games.
“We are as thin as a team can be,” Roberts said.
Three infielders played out of their usual positions, and Roberts was pleased with a relatively clean defensive game by the Kettleers after watching 57 errors committed during the regular season.
“The most important thing for me after the ballgame was the players said they had fun,” Roberts said. “At this stage of the summer after 100 games for college players, no matter which team it is, to say they had fun- that’s really important.”