story by Steve McCarthy
August 6, 2010
FALMOUTH – The factors which contributed to the Cotuit Kettleers’ regular season-ending six game losing streak – the potential runs left on base, the two-out runs against, the shaky bullpen – did not carry over into the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs, which opened Friday night with a 6-1 victory for Cotuit over the Falmouth Commodores.
The Kettleers gained the advantage in the best-of-three series on the road at Guv Fuller Field. The quarterfinal series will shift to Lowell Park in Cotuit on Saturday afternoon and return to Falmouth on Sunday, if necessary. Saturday’s game starts at 3 p.m.
Cotuit starting pitcher Austin Wood (St. Petersburg JC) struck out a season-high 10 over seven innings, while allowing Falmouth’s only four hits. It was also Wood’s longest outing of the summer. His previous best strikeout total of seven came in Falmouth on July 5.
Wood struck out the side in the fourth and sixth innings and did not surrender a hit after the third. Falmouth loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning but came away with the lone run on a B.A. Vollmuth (Southern Miss.) RBI single.
Wood slipped and fell while fielding a ball in front of the mound, which loaded the bases. He then recorded his first two strikeouts and faced one batter over the minimum the rest of the way.
“That (slip) kind of made me mad, so I decided to step it up a little bit,” Wood said. “I just really attacked hitters and kept them off balance.”
Wood, who finished the regular season with a 3-0 record and .74 earned run average, walked one batter and displayed pinpoint command of a fastball-changeup combination. In his previous appearance, against Hyannis, Wood walked three and struck out just one, lasting five and one-third innings.
“I was king of losing my mechanics in that Hyannis game and rushing,” Wood said. “I just worked on staying back and just letting it go.”
A three-run second inning and an opposite field solo home run by Jordan Leyland (UC Irvine) in the fourth supported Wood’s efforts. The Kettleers also produced runs in the bookend frames.
The top four in Cotuit’s batting order all had multiple hits, with Chad Wright’s (Kentucky) three leading the way. Leyland and Zach Cone (Georgia) each had two hits and two RBIs and Deven Marrero (Arizona St.) was 2-for-3 while driving in one.
“We definitely turned it around tonight,” Leyland said. “We hit the ball hard and got the ball to go through and fall.”
Marrero’s sacrifice-fly got the job done in the first inning to score Cone, who singled and moved over on Wright’s first of two doubles.
The Kettleers strung together four hits and a walk to break out in the second. Wright poked a two-run single through the right side of the infield and Leyland lined one up the middle to bring in the third run of the inning.
Wright’s RBI double in the ninth added some insurance for A.J. Achter (Michigan St.), who closed out the win with a pair of no-hit innings.
The Commodores sent out five different pitchers, which allowed a combined 11 hits. Christian Jones (Oregon) was given the hook after just four innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits and took the loss (3-4). Jones was a Cape League Western Division All-Star.
Nate Koneski (Holy Cross), Matt Stites (Jefferson County CC) and Steven Gruver (Tennessee) each appeared for an inning while Doug Simmons (Rice) worked the final two.
Four different Falmouth batters recorded hits off Wood, with Matt Skole (Georgia Tech) driving in the run.
“Now they have to be on their toes and we’ve got their backs to the wall,” Leyland said. “They’ve got a long road ahead of them.”