story by Steve McCarthy
August 7, 2010
COTUIT – Too often this summer it happened to the Cotuit Kettleers. Five times, they took a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning before losing it — somehow. But down to the final strike of their final out Saturday at Lowell Park, it was the Kettleers who played like it was their backs against the wall in the best-of-three quarterfinal playoff series against the Falmouth Commodores.
A two-run two-out comeback and a game-winning RBI single by John Hinson (Clemson) propelled the Kettleers into the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Western Division semifinals with a 4-3 win and a series sweep.
Cotuit will host the first and third game if necessary of the semifinals against Wareham, starting Monday at 3 p.m. The Gatemen swept defending league champions Bourne to advance.
After ending the regular season on a six-game winning streak to jump up the standings and enter the playoffs with the second seed in the West, Falmouth will be remembered only for the two-game losing streak which sent them packing.
The Commodores had plenty of hope to send the series back to Guv Fuller Field. Cotuit starting pitcher Brady Rodgers (Arizona St.) had three-hit them through five-plus innings, but requested to be removed from the game with cramps in his lower back.
They struck first, loading the bases off Cotuit left-hander Keenan Kolinsky (Vanderbilt) and making the leadoff single off Rodgers count.
Then Barrett Barnes (Texas Tech), a scratch from the Game 1 lineup, found the right-center field fence with his first hit of the game and turned on the jets to end up with a triple. K.C. Serna (Oregon) cashed in the run with a single that split the left side of the infield.
Serna singled in another run in the ninth for good measure. A two run lead was cozy, considering the RBI struggles which plagued the Kettleers down the regular season homestretch and the groove reliever Nick Maronde (Florida) had settled into since replacing starter Scott Weismann (Clemson) in the fifth inning.
Joey Hainsfurther (Baylor) singled to get something started for Cotuit, which had just five hits going into the final at-bat. After a line-out to center and a strikeout, James McCann (Arkansas) walked and was pinch-run for by James Foster (Wofford).
A pair of borderline strike calls left Jordan Leyland with no choice but to swing the bat at anything close. He got one he could handle and sent the capacity crowd in Cotuit into a frenzy as his two-run double landed too close to the right field foul line to judge from a distance and sought the corner of the ballpark.
“(Maronde) got ahead quickly and happened to leave me a fastball up and away,” Leyland said. “I just went with it and it happened to fall in fair play.”
Chad Wright (Kentucky) singled to extend the inning and moved the big first baseman Leyland 90 feet closer to making the home bleachers shake so violently the rumblings could be felt a few miles down Route 28 in Falmouth.
John Hinson (Clemson), who was left stranded after a double in his previous at-bat, lined an opposite-field single over leaping shortstop Serna.
“I was really just trying to make good contact,” Hinson said.
Kyle McMillen (Kent St.) gave up Falmouth’s final run and came on to get the final two outs. He ended up with the win (2-3).
Leyland and Serna both finished with three hits and a pair of RBIs. Hinson and Hainsfurther had two hits each.
“We’ve got the best fans on the Cape, and it’s great to win it at home,” Hinson said.