story by Steve McCarthy
August 11, 2009
BOURNE – A dense fog settled over Bourne’s Doran Park and mercifully ended Game One of the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship Series Tuesday with two outs in the sixth inning after the Bourne Braves posted 13 runs in the first two innings en route to a 15-5 beat down of the Cotuit Kettleers.
The league rulebook states that a championship game is not official until seven innings are played, but Cotuit manager Mike Roberts declined to ask his limited roster to play two complete games Wednesday, one in Bourne and one in Cotuit.
“I think it was a good decision,” Roberts said. “Bourne just played extremely well. They took advantage of our struggles tonight, and they deserved to win the ballgame.”
The best of three series will instead move to Cotuit’s Lowell Park Wednesday afternoon for Game Two scheduled for 3 p.m., with the Braves holding a 1-0 advantage.
Fog frequently affects Cape League games at Veteran’s Field in Chatham, but Tuesday’s twice delayed game was the first fog shortened contest the Kettleers have been a part of this summer.
Play ensued until Bourne’s outfielders in white uniforms were barely visible from home plate. Braves catcher Chris Wallace (Houston) thought he had hit his first postseason home run in the previous inning, but the call was reversed after the umpires conferenced and determined the ball had indeed bounced over the fence for a ground rule double.
The initial delay after a sixth inning double to straightaway center field by Cotuit’s Tony Plagman (Georgia Tech) lasted fifteen minutes. Play resumed for five more batters as the fog temporarily lifted, but a meeting between the umpires, coaches, and league officials decided that it was not likely conditions would be playable in the near future.
“I could barely see the outfielders,” Plagman said. “I was just trying to get a ball up in the air, knowing that it would be tough to see.”
Cotuit’s bats were beginning to come alive in the final inning of play as they scored four runs off of Bourne reliever Michael Dimock (Wake Forest) on four hits, but were still left with a ten run mountain to climb. Plagman was seeing the ball well at the dish as a pair of singles preceded his RBI-double.
“It’s tough,” Plagman said. “You never want to have to play a game, especially a playoff game, with this type of fog. It’s not a way it should be played.”
Cotuit starting pitcher Andres Caceres (Connors State JC) could not find the strike zone as he walked the first two batters he faced on four straight pitches. Thirteen batters stepped in to face the struggling southpaw in the seven run first inning as Caceres walked four and allowed five hits. Bourne slugger Kyle Roller (East Carolina) had two hits and two RBI’s in the inning.
Roller drove in four runs total with two hits in his three at-bats. His teammate Stefen Romero (Oregon State) had a double and two singles as well as an RBI and scored in all three of his plate appearances.
Caceres toed the rubber again in the second inning but fared no better. He was relieved by Navery Moore (Vanderbilt) with two outs and Moore was responsible for just one of the six runs totaled before the third out.
Caceres worked primarily in relief for the Kettleers during the regular season, but was called upon as none of Cotuit’s starters had enough rest since their elimination round and semi-final outings. Roberts was unsure after Monday’s semi-final win against Yarmouth-Dennis whether Caceres or Moore would make the start. Right-hander Justin Grimm (Georgia) is expected to pitch Game Two.
Moore shut down the Bourne bats for two innings before the Braves tacked on two more runs in the fifth. He struck out the side in the fourth inning and finished with five strikeouts in three and one-third innings.
“(Moore) works hard,” Plagman said. “It’s definitely great to see that. For him to throw it in there and give us a couple good innings, that’s awesome.”
Bourne starting pitcher Alex Wimmers (Ohio State) was not at his sharpest in his first postseason appearance, but did not let the comfortable lead get away. The Kettleers notched five hits and one earned run in Wimmers’ four innings pitched. He struck out nine and walked three.
“It’s tough, especially when you get down quick to get something going,” Plagman said. “We about did, but (Wimmers) threw well, and kept us off balance, and did a good job with runners on base.”
With his team trailing by a wide margin, Roberts shifted his nine remaining positional players around to give catcher Zach Maggard (Florida Southern) a chance to get out of his gear before making the start Wednesday. Maggard has caught all but the first playoff game, as All-Star catchers Cody Stanley (UNC-Wilmington) and Cameron Rupp (Texas) have played outfield and designated hitter respectively.
Plagman moved from first base to left field with the change, a position he did not play all summer but had experience with in high school.
“I’m comfortable out there,” Plagman said. “Obviously they have two big innings to start it off, so we got to get Maggard out.”
One positive the Kettleers can take from the loss is the shortened game spared the remainder of their pitching staff from working through innings without guarantee of a comeback.
“We were’’t looking to save any pitching, but in this situation I think it probably helped both clubs,” Roberts said.