By Courtney Swift
Kettleers Lead Writer
July 2, 2012
COTUIT – Bourne tested Cotuit’s will to win again Monday. The 12-11 Kettleers win didn’t come as easy as it should have, but a clutch defensive play by Patrick Biondi (Michigan) and solo home run by Raph Rhymes (LSU) in the seventh helped propel Cotuit past the Braves for the second night in a row.
It took some magic, but the Kettleers produced when it mattered most to score what proved to be the go ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Tony Kemp (Vanderbilt) grounded out to begin the inning, but Raph Rhymes came up looking to get on base for his third time in the game. Rhymes took a 3-1 pitch and launched it just over the right-center field wall putting Cotuit on top 12-11. “I wanted to get on base any way I could, Rhymes said. “Fortunately I put a good swing on the ball and it somehow got out.”
The Braves slowly chipped away at the Kettleers’ lead throughout the game. They came all the way back from a six run defecit in the seventh inning to tie the score at 11. An error by Kettleers first basemen Mike Ford (Princeton) put the lead runner on for Bourne, lighting the fire for the Braves.
Three doubles, a single and a walk later, Bourne had tied the score at eleven and looked to take the lead. “That kind of opened the door,” Coach Mike Roberts said. “When you give good teams a fourth and a fifth out sometimes it can really open the door, and they took advantage of it. We kind of got what we deserved.”
Just like last night’s game, it was another throw from the outfield that would preserve the lead for Cotuit. “We work on our throws every day in infield,” Roberts said. “I want them to throw so their arms are strong as well as accurate. In the last two games that’s really paid off.”
Bourne’s Mike Ahmed (Holy Cross) came back up to bat for his second go-around of the inning. With one on and two away, he lined the ball into left, leaving it up to Biondi’s throw to the plate to save the inning. And it did. Biondi’s throw from left field was a strike to catcher Cael Brockmeyer (USC Bakersfield) who tagged out Josh Desze (Ohio State) at the plate, keeping the score tied. “I just tried to get to the ball quick and get rid of it quick,” Biondi said. “I was lucky enough to through a strike to the plate and got the guy out.”
Cotuit has fallen behind early in each of their past five games. But Monday was different. They got on the board early and first against the Braves after fielders choice and double by Jacob May (Coastal Carolina) to put the Kettleers on top 2-0 in the first.
Brandon Bixler started for Cotuit going 2 1/3 innings while giving up just one run on one hit with five strikeouts and three walks. Bixler has only appeared in relief so far this season, but was happy to see some starting time. “It felt good, I mean I definitely like starting more than relieving,” Bixler said. “You get in more of a routine. I think it’s easier to go out there and be ready with all of your pitches.”
The Kettleers added to their run cushion, breaking the score open twice in the fourth and sixth innings. Cotuit got the timely hitting they so desperately needed in past games combined with three Braves errors to produce a five run fourth and three run sixth inning before Bourne came back.
Jacob May (Coastal Carolina), and Mike Ford (Princeton) reached base in the sixth with two away giving Cael Brockmeyer (CSU Bakersfield) a chance to show his power. Brockmeyer and then Patrick Biondi (Michigan) both doubled giving the Kettleers an 11-5 lead after six innings.
But the key hit by Rhymes would be all Cotuit’s closer Dan Slania (Notre Dame) needed. Slania came in to pitch for the second night in a row, this time holding the lead and shutting down the Braves for Cotuit’s seventh win of the season. “He wanted to pitch, and you love a closer that wants the baseball,” said Roberts. “I want Dan Slania out there every time he wants the baseball.” Both teams combined for 23 runs on 30 hits with eight errors on the night.
Cotuit plays again Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Falmouth. The Commodores lead the Western Division with a 9-6 record. The Kettleers (now 7-8) will send Tim Mayza (Millersville Univ. of PA) to the mound looking to make it three wins in a row. For more post game interviews, visit Official Kettleers on YouTube.