HARWICH – For most of the game Tuesday night, Cotuit kept on knocking on the door at home plate. The Kettler’s got runner after runner into scoring position without being able to find the necessary key hit to break the game open against the Harwich Mariners.
In the tenth inning, Cotuit catcher Kevin Roundtree (USC) led off by demolishing a Carter Capps (Mount Olive) fastball for triple past Harwich right fielder Jabari Henry (FIU), making himself the potential go ahead run. The pinch-hitting Torsten Boss (Michigan State) finally delivered a desperately overdue clutch single to right that scored Roundtree putting the Kettleers ahead 2-1. Traditional starter Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco) did his best Bobby Wahl (Ole Miss) impression by slamming the door in the bottom half of the frame to pick up his first save of the year and give Cotuit the 2-1 win.“He was pounding me with fastballs and I kept on fouling them back,” recounted Roundtree. “I was able to stay back on that third one thankfully and drive it to right center.”
Roundtree’s triple was actually the second one in a row for Cotuit. After Michael Yastrzemski (Vanderbilt) was picked off at second base, Logan Vick (Baylor) ended the top of the ninth inning by trying to stretch a triple into an elusive inside the park homerun. With the centerfielder Ronnie Richardson (UCF) making an unsuccessful full extension dive for the Vick blast, Vick had a golden opportunity to put the Kettleer’s ahead all by himself. Coach Mike Roberts had his arms working like an overpowered windmill sending Vick home, but the throw to the plate was well in time, and the Kettleers left the inning empty handed again.
“The ball is very wet,” said Coach Roberts in defense of his decision to send Vick. “And the chances of that ball ending up right at the plate are pretty slim with as wet as it gets at night here. I thought with two outs it was well worth the risk.”
The game was low scoring due to a vintage pitchers duel that was turned in by Cotuit starter RJ Fondon (FIU) and Harwich starter Chris Stratton (Mississippi State). The outing by Stratton was really remarkable considering that this was only his second start of the year. Stratton went six strong innings only giving up four hits and striking out three Kettleers. He worked at an efficient pace and relied heavily on his curveball to get batters to swing and miss. He looked less comfortable having to slow down his tempo when runners were on base, but he did a fine job getting the ground ball outs he needed when runners were threatening.
Fondon’s night was equally as dominant. The southpaw worked for 6 1/3 innings giving up one unearned run and ringing up four. RJ had his change up locked in getting Mariners to swing and miss at pitches that they were very early on.
The bullpen did their part in this game as well. Cody Stiles (UNC) threw a scoreless inning, Bobby Wahl recorded four strike outs in the 8th and 9th inning, and of course Zimmer capped it all off with a save.
“RJ pitched really well. His change up was outstanding, and then our relief people did really well,” praised Roberts. “We had already had that pitching order preset, so it was good to see that work out.”
The two runs before the tenth both were a result of defensive mishaps. In the 7th inning, Alex Yarbrough (Ole Miss) couldn’t scoop the Logan Vick dart from third allowing the ball to get past him. Jabari Henry, who was on second, was able to hustle all the way home giving Harwich the 1-0 lead. In the next inning Cotuit’s Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech) stole his 14th and 15th bags of the year putting him on third. A wild pitch by Chris Overman (NC State) allowed Wren to scamper home.
Harwich Coach Steve Englert was disappointed yet understanding of the outcome.
“It was a typical Cape League Game. Whoever was going to come up with the big hit was going to win that ball game, and unfortunately for us it was them.”
It should be noted that the pitchers that Cotuit scored runs on (Overton and Capps) had not given up a single run on the Cape until tonight.
With twelve regular season games left until the playoffs, Cotuit needed a spark. This game may serve as the catalyst that hopefully results in playoff contention. Kevin Roundtree was aware of just how important the remaining games are going to be.
“I mean, I’m aware of what’s going on, but we have just got to execute. We didn’t execute about four times tonight and thankfully it didn’t come back to bite us in the butt. But if we do that we will be fine. We have got so much talent on this team and the pitching is going to carry us through.”
With Falmouth losing, Cotuit (12-18-2) is now only two points away from tying them for the final playoff spot. The two teams will square off head to head tomorrow at Lowell Park for a 5 o’ clock game. Tomorrow without a doubt will be Cotuit’s most important game of the season so far.