story by Steve McCarthy
August 12, 2010
COTUIT – The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox bashed their way into the Cape Cod Baseball League Finals with 20 extra base hits in their first four playoff games. But with 13 shutout innings in the books, they resorted to the Cotuit Kettleers’ mantra of small ball and manufactured the monumental first run of a 2-1 series-tying win Thursday over the Kettleers in Game 2 at Lowell Park.
The Red Sox earned home field advantage for the best-of-three series with the league’s top regular season record, so Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth will be the site of a decisive Game 3 on Friday at 3 p.m. Y-D will look to win its fourth title in 10 years while Cotuit has not won it all since 1999. The Kettleers have won a league record 14 championships.
Cotuit ace Austin Wood (St. Petersburg JC) and Y-D’s John Leonard (Boston College) wouldn’t allow more than the occasional unproductive base hit Thursday, but Wood paid for both of his walks while Leonard did not issue a single free pass.
Ben McMahan (Florida) took the first base on balls in the fifth inning and moved into scoring position on a Danny Muno (Fresno St.) sacrifice bunt before Matt Jensen’s (Cal-Poly) sharp grounder got normally sure-fielding Cotuit shortstop Deven Marrero (Arizona St.) to lose the handle on one. First baseman Jordan Leyland (UC-Irvine) then booted one while charging in on a squeeze bunt which pushed McMahan across.
“I don’t care how we score runs,” Y-D field manager Scott Pickler said. “We put the ball in play and that’s what baseball’s all about. They made an error and we capitalized.”
Jensen walked with one out in the seventh to chase Wood from the game and stole second to set up Tyler Hanover’s (Boston College) RBI single into right-center field.
Only the second run off Wood was earned, and the hard-throwing righty struck out four in a three hit outing. A.J. Achter (Michigan St.) finished the game for the Kettleers.
“There’s nothing better than being able to take (Wood) down and now be able to win it back at home,” Y-D shortstop Joe Panik (St. Johns) said.
Meanwhile, Leonard kept the shutout intact through six innings to lower his playoff earned run average to 0.64 in 14 innings. He won both of his starts.
“That’s kind of been my demeanor my whole life, being calm in big situations, and I think I did that today,” Leonard said. “I just tried to fill up the zone, throw strikes, and let my teammates do the work behind me. We played a great team game today.”
Cotuit’s James McCann (Arkansas) homered off Anthony Desclafani (Florida) in the eighth inning, his second in three games, and the Kettleers left the tying run stranded on second in the ninth against Red Sox closer D.J. Baxendale (Arkansas).
Y-D managed just four hits to Cotuit’s six. Three came from the middle of their order in Hanover, Panik, and Jordan Ribera (Fresno St.). Nobody had more than one hit for Cotuit.
“We’re a confident bunch, not only in ourselves but in each other,” Panik said. “We knew it was only a matter of time. We only needed that first run to get us going and we got the win today. Now we have the confidence and hopefully we’ll take it into tomorrow.”