story by Steve McCarthy
August 12, 2009
COTUIT – For the second straight year the Cotuit Kettleers watched their Cape Cod Baseball League Championship Series opponent hoist the Arnold Mycock Trophy. This time it was on their own turf.
Bourne Braves left fielder Stefen Romero (Oregon State) squeezed the final out of a one, two, three ninth inning pitched by closer Kevin Munson (James Madison) as the team sprinted toward the pitcher’s mound to celebrate a 5-1 Game 2 win for the team’s first Cape League Championship since their name change from the Canalmen in 1987.
“I congratulate Bourne,” Cotuit manager Roberts said. “I thought they had an outstanding team the entire season.”
The Braves earned a first round bye as the Western Division’s top team, then breezed through their semi-final series with Orleans before resting a day to prepare for the low on depth but full of talent Cotuit Kettleers.
“To have the opportunity to be in the Finals two years in a row is a wonderful opportunity,” Roberts said. “Some people win, and some people lose, but I think we won a lot more than we lost.”
The Kettleers only reserves for the Finals were pitchers, while the Braves retained all of their key players through the end of the season.
“To play six days in a row with only nine position players, with no way to give them any rest, really in today’s world you only see that in middle school baseball,” Roberts said.
After a lopsided 15-5 affair in favor of the Braves in a fog shortened Game 1, Cotuit received a quality start from right-hander Justin Grimm (Georgia) on short rest, but could not execute with runners in scoring position.
Bourne jumped out in front with a three run third inning and did not let the Kettleers score after their lone run in the second inning gave them a 1-0 lead. A two-run single by Pierre LePage (UCONN) put the Braves on top for good. LePage’s steal of second with Scott Woodward on third drew a throw down from Cotuit catcher Zach Maggard (Florida Southern) that allowed Woodward to break for home and beat the return throw to make the score 3-1.
Bourne’s Chris Wallace (Houston) was given a free pass from third in the fifth inning on a balk by Grimm. The following inning saw the game’s final run when Cape League MVP Kyle Roller (East Carolina) scored from third without a throw as the Kettleers turned a 4-6-3 double play.
Grimm was pulled by Roberts after six innings. Four of the five runs were earned. He allowed four hits, struck out five, and walked three. He also hit a batter.
“You’ll see Justin’s name way up in the draft next June,” Roberts said. “A young man who eventually I think will have a chance to pitch in the Major Leagues. So I’m really appreciative.”
Cotuit stranded runners on third in the fifth and sixth innings, and one on second in the first. They tallied eight hits, three more than Bourne.
“We had more hits than them today,” Cotuit infielder Chris Bisson said. “They just capitalized on their chances.”
Bourne starting pitcher Eric Cantrell (George Washington) was a deserving winning pitcher. He kept most balls hit by Cotuit batters on the ground and lasted 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and allowed six hits while walking two.
“He did his job,” Cotuit catcher/outfielder Cody Stanley said. “It worked out for him. They got their runs and kept them, and we couldn’t pull anything out.”
Logan Billbrough (William & Mary) pitched two and two-thirds scoreless innings of relief to set up Munson.
Coach Roberts finished the game with his two most consistent relievers to keep the game within reach. Submariner Ben Rowen (Virginia Tech) pitched two scoreless innings, and closer Daniel Tillman (Florida Southern) struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
“Our pitching staff has carried us the whole summer,” Roberts said. “The three guys that were out there today were very very central parts of us being able to get to this point.”
After the tough loss, Cotuit’s players remained upbeat about their experience on the Cape as they said goodbye.
“I’m thankful because for me, it was real close for me to not coming to the Cape,” Bisson said. “I thank everybody, especially the coaching staff and Coach Roberts for just bringing me down. I’m blessed to have been here.”
“It’s been a fantastic experience,” Stanley said. “I’ll take this with me for as long as I go, God willing it be for a very long time. I’m very honored to be here.”
Before the game, Cotuit pitcher Chad Bell (Walters St. JC) shook hands with teammates and left Lowell Park after confirming he had signed a contract with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers 14th round pick was the seventh Cotuit player on the 2009 roster to accept an offer since the June draft, following Drew Storen (Washington Nationals), Robbie Shields (New York Mets), Tyler Townsend (Baltimore Orioles), Chris Dwyer (Kansas City Royals), Ricky Bowen (Cincinnati Reds) and Brandon May (Chicago Cubs).
“As I always tell the players, I’ve been blessed to have somebody in my family who is having the opportunity to live a sports dream for him, and my goal is to try to help each one of those young men come closer to that goal for them,” Roberts said. “To me, Chad’s first big step toward that was today.”