story by Steve McCarthy
July 31, 2010
HYANNIS and CHATHAM – It started at 1:01 p.m. at Hyannis’ McKeon Park and ended at 10:37 p.m. at Veterans Field in Chatham. At 2:50 the Cotuit Kettleers learned they had clinched a playoff berth and the Barnstable Patriot Cup. Nearly eight hours later they were victims of a walk-off hit batsman.
It was a doubleheader of nine inning games Saturday that the Kettleers had to endure due to numerous mid-summer postponements, which produced a 3-1 win for Cotuit (19-18-2) over Hyannis (13-26) in Game 1 and a 10-9 defeat to Chatham (18-19-1) in the second game.
After Cotuit’s Game 1 starting pitcher Austin Wood (St. Petersburg JC) gave up a first inning home run to Hyannis’ Casey McElroy (Auburn), Kettleers leadoff hitter and left fielder Michael Yastrzemski (Vanderbilt) singled in the equalizer in the second and walked with the bases loaded in the eighth. Chad Wright (Kentucky) was then hit by a pitch.
The Kettleers re-fueled with lunch at Veterans Park in Hyannis and boarded the bus for a congested drive down Cape to Chatham. Yastrzemski brought his hot bat along and staked Cotuit to a 4-0 lead in the second inning of Game 2 with a grand slam off Chatham’s Derek Self (Louisville), his second home run of the summer.
“I can’t even remember the last time I hit a grand slam,” Yastrzemski said. “It was definitely cool.”
Chatham’s Ricky Oropesa (USC) answered with a solo shot to straightaway center in the home half of the inning, his sixth long ball of the summer, but the Kettleers tacked on two more runs in the third. The Anglers just wouldn’t stay down, though.
Oropesa was intentionally walked with baserunners on second and third in the fifth inning, allowing Cotuit starting pitcher Matt Murray (Georgia Southern) to face Joe Depinto (USC) instead. Depinto’s sacrifice fly to right ended up producing twice the trouble as right fielder Brooks Pinckard’s (Baylor) throw to third missed the cut-off man.
Pinckard moved to the mound for the next inning and allowed a run to make it 6-5. The exhausted Kettleers weren’t going to give up that lead. They wanted this one bad.
Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook), who had logged 52 innings over the summer in eight starts made his first relief appearance in the seventh. He struck out the side after Deven Marrero (Arizona St.) singled in another run of support in the top of the inning.
Since Pinckard started the game in the field, Tropeano had to either bat in the eighth inning or come out of the game. He not only lined a leadoff single up the middle, but also came around on a pair of walks and a Michael Faulkner (Arkansas St.) single to help his own cause.
Cotuit took a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning with Tropeano still dealing. Aaron Westlake (Vanderbilt) walked and Mark Ginther (Oklahoma St.) singled to bring up… Ricky Oropesa.
Maybe 100 fans stuck around to see it, but it still happened. Oropesa drilled Tropeano’s fastball and the dense trees behind the left field fence were the only things that could stop it.
The Kettleers had played 18 innings and were willing to play on, but a single, a sac-bunt, and a walk reloaded the bases with two outs. Cotuit manager Mike Roberts came out to take the ball from Tropeano, who was already to the first base line to intercept the coach. Tropeano tossed his glove into the dugout, dejected.
With a force at every base Roberts gave the Anglers a new look to adjust to, submariner Michael Frongello (Davidson).
He hit Beau Amaral (UCLA).
“You’ve just got to do your best and sometimes it’s not enough,” Yastrzemski said.