story by Steve McCarthy
August 10, 2009
SOUTH YARMOUTH – The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox cruised through the Cape Cod Baseball League regular season building a record five points better than their nearest challenger, but were sent home stunned Monday following an 18-4 disaster in Game Three of their semi-final series against the heavy underdog Cotuit Kettleers at Red Wilson Field.
The visiting team won each of the first two games of the series, bringing the fate of both teams to a pivotal point under the scorching afternoon sun. The Kettleers earned a trip to the Cape League Championship Series for the second straight season. They were swept in 2008 for the Arnold Mycock trophy by the Harwich Mariners. Game One of the Championship Series is scheduled for Tuesday at Doran Park in Bourne against the Western Division Champion Braves at 7 p.m.
“Sometimes I’m never ceased to be amazed sometimes in the game of baseball what can happen,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “We all know anybody can win one game. We were just fortunate to win that game today.”
Everything that could go wrong for the Red Sox eventually did as poor pitching and five fielding blunders sent the Kettleers circling the bases. All but one Cotuit player crossed the plate at least once.
Kevin Patterson (Auburn), a returning player from the 2008 Kettleers team scored four runs and drove in three from the third spot in the batting order. Cameron Rupp (Texas) crossed three times and drove in three. Cotuit’s All-Star catcher Cody Stanley (UNC-Wilmington) started in the outfield for the third straight game as the Kettleers are left with nine positional players and scored three runs from the cleanup spot and drove in two.
“Y-D’s been good all year,” Patterson said. “They’ve had good pitching and good offense all year long. It’s just kind of an aberration it just happened to be in a playoff game, an elimination game.”
The Kettleers tallied 14 hits and drew 10 walks. One of the more bizarre plays seen all season was Cotuit’s Chris Bisson (Kentucky) ending up at third base after a strikeout in the fifth inning. Strike three in the dirt got by Y-D catcher Ben McMahan (Florida) and his attempt to throw Bisson out at first ended up well down the right field line.
Y-D started right-hander Greg Peavey (Oregon St.) on the mound, a pitcher with normally pinpoint command who walked just seven batters in 36 innings thrown this summer. Peavey walked five in three plus innings Monday and left when the score was a manageable 4-1. He left a runner aboard for reliever Chase Dempsay (Houston), who served as a batting practice pitcher for the Kettleers, allowing nine runs in an inning and one-third.
Dempsay was tagged for four two-out runs in the fourth inning and five more in the fifth after recording a leadoff out. Rupp ended his day with a no-doubt two-run blast to center field.
The play that started the fourth inning rally was an infield single by Stanley that gave Patterson thoughts of scoring from second, but as he rounded third he thought better of it, drawing a throw to third by Y-D second baseman Tyler Hanover (LSU). Hanover’s throw flew into the bleachers left of third base, allowing Patterson to score and Stanley to take third.
Matt Little (Kentucky) stopped the bleeding with a pair of strikeouts to end the fifth inning, but headed back to the dugout with a 13 run deficit for the Y-D offense to overcome.
Cotuit’s Texas tandem made Little pay in the seventh inning, as Rupp was hit by a pitch and Keyes feasted on an offering left up by sending it into the trees behind the center field fence.
Y-D shortstop Blake Kelso botched consecutive plays in a three error eighth that saw Cotuit’s final two runs scored. Neither were charged to Red Sox reliever Nick Serino (UMASS).
Scott Lyman (UC Davis) pitched a scoreless ninth for Y-D.
Cotuit starting pitcher Jeff Walters (Georgia) worked a pair of quick innings before the Red Sox loaded the bases with none out in the third inning. Walters allowed a run scoring sac-fly by Caleb Ramsey (Houston), but that was the only Y-D run to cross in the inning as Craig Fritsch (Baylor) came in and struck out the first two batters he faced.
Fritsch earned the win (1-1), tossing 5 1/3 quick innings and was charged with one earned run, a solo shot by Brian Hernandez (UC Irvine). He allowed three hits, struck out four and walked one. With the game out of hand, Y-D added a two more runs to their credit in the eighth inning with help from a pair of Cotuit errors. One was made by relief pitcher Matt Grace (UCLA) who gave right fielder Kevin Keyes (Texas) a rest at the end of the game.
“It’s always hard pitching with a lead, and (Fritsch) did a phenomenal job just staying focused and throwing a lot of strikes,” Patterson said.
Ben Rowen (Virginia Tech) retired the four batters he faced to end the blowout.
“A lot of guys have left for whatever reason, but we’re a close group,” Patterson said. “We’ve been up here all summer so we might as well win it.”
Cotuit’s most glaring question heading into the best of three Championship Series will be the pitching staff, as none of their regular starters will be available Tuesday. Roberts plans to start either Vanderbilt right-hander Navery Moore (1-1, 7.88 ERA) or Connors State Junior College southpaw Andres Caceres (0-0, 4.91 ERA) in the opening game.