story by Steve McCarthy
August 5, 2009
COTUIT – The Brewster Whitecaps had nothing to play for Wednesday, but they came into Lowell Park and frustrated the Cotuit Kettleers to a 10 inning, 1-1 draw.
The Whitecaps were not one of the six teams to earn a playoff spot, while the Kettleers were looking to secure a home playoff game Friday with a win. With the tie, Cotuit had to rely on a Wareham loss or tie to remain ahead of the Gatemen, and were grateful as Bourne came back to win 7-5 at Spillane Field.
“To me, one of the most difficult games of the year is to play in that situation,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said.
Roberts stressed Brewster’s advantage of being able to play relaxed, as well as swinging in counts they normally wouldn’t. Brewster outfielder Davy Wright gained attention by shifting around to eight different positions. The only position he didn’t appear in was pitcher.
Roberts was hoping to rest his pitchers’ arms before the playoffs, but three relievers and two starters toed the mound after Fritsch. Seth Blair (Arizona State) and Chad Bell (Walters State JC) each threw to stay fresh after extended time between starts. Closer Daniel Tillman (Florida Southern) also worked an inning.
“We just have to hope our pitching holds out if we can get through Friday,” Roberts said.
Six scoreless innings passed before the Kettleers plated the game’s first run. An effective five inning spot start by Cotuit’s Craig Fritsch (Baylor) was matched by Brewster’s Matt Lujan (San Francisco), who lasted seven innings.
“(Fritsch) gave us a great five innings,” Roberts said. “I thought it was the best he’s thrown the ball all year.”
Cotuit loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning and Kevin Patterson (Auburn) drove in Tony Plagman (Georgia Tech) from third with an opposite field RBI-single.
“It’s been a rough summer up until a couple weeks ago,” Patterson said. “It finally turned around for me, but that’s just the way baseball is. It’s a good time to be hot.”
The 1-0 lead lasted only until the next half inning, when Brewster loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. Blair departed with runners on first and second to bring in submariner Ben Rowen with one out. Brewster’s Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia) hammered a grounder at Patterson playing third base which took an unpredictable hop and bounced into left field, allowing John Barr (Virginia) to score from second.
“It was a tough hop. It kind of kicked up on me,” Patterson said. “That’s not an excuse. It wasn’t an error, but in my mind it was. I should’ve made that play.”
Cotuit’s Chris Bisson (Kentucky) led off the home half of the eighth inning with a single, and moved over to third on a Zach Cone (Georgia) sac-bunt and Cody Stanley groundout, but a groundout by Plagman left Bisson stranded.
Cotuit reliever Mike Nesseth struck out three of five batters he faced in the ninth inning to give the bottom half of the Kettleers batting order a chance to come through. The first three batters were all able to reach base, but none made it past second. Cameron Rupp (Texas) was forced out on a Kevin Keyes (Texas) fielder’s choice. Keyes tried to move over from first to third on Jeff Rowland’s single to right field but was beat by the throw. Patterson then struck out to end the inning.
In the extra inning, Bell allowed a two out double by Brewster’s Lyle Allen (Georgia) and intentionally walked Harold Martinez (Miami) before striking out Zach Jones (Stanford).
Bisson, Cone, and Stanley loaded the bases in their half with one out. Plagman tried to push Bisson across, but a slow roller down the first base line was picked up by Brewster reliever Stayton Thomas (Texas) and fired home in time for the force out. Rupp then popped out to center. Thomas pitched the final three shutout innings for the Whitecaps.
“It was a great ballgame,” Roberts said. “The pitching staff did a heck of a job. We just struggled coming up with clutch base hits.”
Cotuit’s first round playoff game Friday against Wareham at Lowell Park will get underway at 3:00 p.m.