COTUIT – A high school baseball coach once told a young and aspiring writer that winning baseball games comes down to two things. Pitching, and timely hitting.
While the young Cotuit (6-13-1) arms have held up their end of the bargain, the bats continue to miss opportunities with men on base. Cotuit stranded 12 runners en route to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Falmouth Commodores (10-10).After an initial 1-2-3 opening inning, Cotuit starter Alex Keudell (Oregon) ran into a bit of trouble in the second. Commodore designated hitter Jeremy Baltz (St. Johns) started the inning off with a screaming single up the middle. After a Jake Rodriguez (Oregon State) hit to right, catcher Spencer Kieboom (Clemson) laid down a sacrifice bunt that put the runners in scoring position. Max White (Oklahoma) did what Cotuit couldn’t, and took advantage of the runners in scoring position. He doubled home Baltz, while Rodriguez got gunned down at the plate by a Patrick Biondi (Michigan) bullet from right field.
Manager Mike Roberts then decided to not deal with Barrett Barnes (Texas Tech), giving him the free pass to first. The next batter, shortstop Eric Garcia (Missouri) then delivered the game winning runs for Falmouth. Garcia skied a fly ball to deep right field just out of the outstretched glove of Biondi giving the Commodores the 3-0 lead. It would have been a Willie Mays level basket catch.
“I was just trying to stay relaxed, I hadn’t played in awhile,” reflected Garcia. “I was looking for the pitch up, luckily I got it. I felt good at the plate today.”
The sole Cotuit run came via the bat of Alex Yarbrough (Ole Miss). With two outs in the third inning Yarbrough crushed a line-drive home run off of Sean Hagan (St. Johns) that found the bottom of the tree trunks over the fence of Lowell Park. The solo shot was Yarbrough’s first of the year.
Yarbrough used his veteran plate savvy to wait on preferable pitch.
“I knew 2-0 that he wasn’t going to walk me, so I knew I was getting a fastball. I sat on it and was able to make good contact.”
Unfortunately for Cotuit, Yarbrough didn’t have any Kettleers on base for him to drive in. Each Cotuit batter that reached base was stranded. Cotuit had a plethora of chances to do offensive damage, but their best shot came in the 8th.
After a Ryon Healy (Oregon) groundout, Logan Vick (Baylor) got on base with a single to right. Stefan Sabol (Oregon) drove a Nate Koneski (Holy Cross) pitch to the opposite field putting Vick in scoring position. Kevin Roundtree (USC) worked his at bat to a full count, but then struck out gazing at a Koneski curveball that dropped perfectly in the zone. Kevin Mager (Rollins) worked a walk to load the bases for Mr. Homerun, Victor Roache (Georgia Southern). Falmouth called on their closer Josh Easley (NC State) to deal with the ideal hitter for Cotuit. Falmouth won the pitching / hitting chess match, getting Roache to ground out to Garcia at short.
Coach Mike Roberts remarked that clutch hitting comes with time, but also reflected on how his team is showing glimpses of progress.
“We have improved a lot in the last week in a lot of ways. Our pitching has been outstanding the last week. The clutch hitting comes from stability at the plate. How guy’s legs are stable. We have quite a few guys who have beautiful swings, but their legs are not very stable. So that’s the biggest thing that we’ll continue to work on.”
Cotuit gets a second chance against Falmouth on our nation’s birthday. Cotuit will travel to Falmouth on July 4th, for a 5:30 game.