HYANNIS – One of the many oddities of sports is having enough to win but not quite doing it.It seems this has been the story many times for the 2011 Cotuit Kettleers and last night was no different. The Kettleers only managed to score two runs on eight hits and left 12 runners on base. With a combination of Kevin Ziomek (Vanderbilt), Cody Stiles (North Carolina), Mason McVay (Florida International), and Kendall Graveman (Mississippi State) giving up just four runs, the Kettleers certainly had enough to win.
On paper these Kettleers seem like one of the best teams in the Cape League. Defensively the Kettleers are first-class. With middle infielders of Deven Marrero (Arizona State) and Alex Yarbrough (Mississippi) almost every ground ball should be fielded cleanly and thrown on to first for an out. Logan Vick (Baylor) gives his body on every play diving from left to right, then fires over to first. Almost no ground ball should find its way to the outfield. However, if a fly ball is hit it finds itself among some of the speediest outfielders around. Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech), Mike Yastrzemski (Vanderbilt), Krey Bratsen (Texas A&M), and Patrick Biondi (Michigan) are all as fast as anyone in the league. Yet somehow this stud-filled defense has committed an error in almost every game to date, including two last night in Hyannis.
Another phenomenon has been the inability to score runs. Last night with two outs in the top of the ninth the Kettleers had Marrero standing on third and couldn’t drive him in. Earlier, Yarbrough led off the game, and reached on an error. Then Roache walked. With two runners on and no outs, Torston Boss (Michigan State), Marrero, and Yastrzemski went down in order and couldn’t manage to drive in the run.
“We have not been good with men on base and we’re still trying to find a way to drive runs in. Our number one problem is we have bunted very poorly, and that’s my fault but we haven’t executed the sacrifice bunt.” said Coach Mike Roberts of his team’s lack of offensive production.
Pitching, however, has not been a problem.
“We don’t have to change anything but we need some help, and our pitchers are always pitching down and part of it is because they feel like they have to pitch a shut-out every night because we’re not scoring a lot of runs” said Roberts of his men on the mound.
In Hyannis, Ziomek started for the Kettleers and he started well, sitting down eight of the first twelve he faced. Ziomek found himself in trouble in the fourth, an inning in which all nine Harbor Hawks came to the plate.
The inning started with an Adam Walker (Jacksonville) single. The next batter was John Frost (UAB) who flew out to Yastrzemski in right. Next up was Justin Gonzalez (Florida State) who walked. Zach Vincej (Pepperdine) followed in his teammate’s footsteps and drew a walk and loaded the bases. It was then Austin Elkins (Dallas Baptist) with a chance to give Hyannis a lead. Elkins ripped a single to left that scored both Walker and Gonzalez. Vincej scored during the next at bat when Ziomek tried to catch Elkins sleeping at first. The throw sailed over the head of first basemen Jordan Leyland (UC Irvine) and Vincej trotted to the plate, while Elkins sprinted all the way around to third. The next batter was Eric Stamets (Evansville). Stamets grounded back to Ziomek who threw home to Kevin Roundtree (Southern California). Rountree tagged Elkins for the second out of the inning. Ziomek would load the bases before being replaced by Cody Stiles. Stiles got Kevin Plawecki (Purdue) to ground to Yarbrough who tossed to Marrero at second to end the bleeding.
First blood, however, was drawn in the top of the second. Leyland started off the inning by grounding out to second. Roundtree then walked. Biondi hummed a liner to left for a single that was botched by Elkins, allowing Roundtree to reach third and Biondi to second on the error. Wren was the next batter and he watched the third pitch soar over catcher Plaweki’s head to score Roundtree and move Biondi to third. Wren then hit an infield single, but it wasn’t enough to score Biondi from third. With runners on the corners Yarbrough came to the dish. Wren took off for second but was thrown out by Plawecki, and two pitches later Yarbrough struck out to end the inning with Biondi left standing at third.
The run was the only one the Kettleers would score until Marrero’s RBI triple in the 9th that would score Boss.
Hyannis would also only score one more in the 8th and the final tally was 4-2.
For the third night in a row one of the best teams in the Cape League lost. The Kettleers are a barrel full of gun powder just waiting for that little spark to cause an explosion that could potentially take them to the top of the league. A spark that Roberts says can’t come from himself and the rest of his coaching staff.
“Coaches don’t light fires in athletes, we encourage them and we try to show them some leadership and certainly, like I said, we have to encourage them. But they need to find some fire because they love the game, they love their teammates, but they don’t like what they see,” said Roberts of his struggling team.
The Kettleers (10-16-2) are still stuck with 22 points, two points behind tonight’s opponent, the Falmouth Commodores (12-15). A Cotuit win tonight would move them out of the basement and into a tie for 4th. The game begins at 7:00 at Falmouth’s Guv Fuller Field.