By Mike Walsh
Kettleers Media Intern
August 4, 2012
The numbers 5’6”,165-pounds and 5’9” 163-pounds won’t impress or scare many a baseball mind. However, the numbers .391 and .343 are sure to raise an eyebrow or two.
Both sets of numbers can be use to describe the one-two punch that has propelled the Cotuit Kettleers into first place in the Western Division of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Neither Patrick Biondi of Michigan nor Tony Kemp of Vanderbilt look the part of big time offensive ballplayers. In fact, the duo are the smallest players on the Kettleers roster this year. However, no hitter in the lineup has meant more to the team’s success over the course of Cotuit’s recent 10-game win streak than them. The two have also firmly implanted themselves into the five and six holes in the batting order.
Biondi, who leads the CCBL in hitting with his .391 average, has been setting the table no matter where coach Roberts has placed him in the lineup. His 31 runs scored lead Cotuit and place him fourth in the entire league. The Woodhaven, MI native also finds himself near the league lead in hits, walks and stolen bases. In centerfield, Biondi has committed just two errors in 36 games.
Kemp, who was bumped out of his usual centerfield position by Biondi, mans second base for the Kettleers. While his teammate may lead the team and league in hitting, Kemp may just be Cotuit’s offensive MVP.
The Vanderbilt sophomore is hitting a stellar .343 on the season, but it is his work in the clutch that has meant the most to Cotuit. His 27 RBI are tops among his Kettleer teammates and also place him in the top-ten in the league. The Franklin, TN native leads the CCBL in triples and stolen bases as well.
Together, Biondi and Kemp have paved the way for the league’s second-highest scoring offense. Notably, in recent close games, it has been the work of these two players that has directly led to the positive outcomes.
Starting on July 27th, in a 6-3 win over Hyannis, the duo reached base a combined seven times in 12 plate appearances. Each also registered an RBI in a three-run fourth inning, one after the other.
Two nights later at Lowell Park, the Kettleers won a 1-0 decision over the Y-D Red Sox. Who scored the lone run? Patrick Biondi of course. He singled and was followed by a Kemp walk. Eventually, with the bases loaded, Biondi raced home on passed ball. Once again, the duo had helped Cotuit win a close game.
The next night, Cotuit won another home game by one run when they defeated Chatham 3-2. All three runs on the night were scored by Biondi and Kemp. That wasn’t the whole story though. More impressive is how the two played off of one another to score those runs.
In the second inning, batting in their usual five and six spots, they worked back-to-back walks. After advancing to second and third on Chatham mishaps, Tim Kiene doubled them home. Later on, with the game tied at two, Biondi led off the ninth with a single. He was then forced to second when Kemp was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, the bases were loaded. Thanks to the two table-setters in the middle of the lineup, Jacob Valdez had the opportunity to work the walk that forced in Biondi with the winning run.
If you are catching on here, you can probably predict how the Cotuit-Brewster game went on August first.
The duo went a combined 3-for-8 with four RBI and a run scored in the Kettleers 10-9 win. However, once again it was not the final stats, but how the winning runs were scored that is most impressive.
Trailing 9-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mike Ford and James Roberts took their turn setting things up for our two stars with back-to-back singles. Then, as he does nearly half the time he steps to the plate, Biondi singled to bring home Ford.
Before Biondi reached his base, Kemp was toeing the dirt in the batters box. He was eager to make the Whitecaps pitcher realize what the rest of the CCBL has come to know, this one-two punch is unexpected but lethal.
Kemp calmly stroked a single to centerfield, scoring both Roberts and Biondi with the winning run.
This has become such a sure thing these days that anytime the Kettleers are tied or closely trailing late in a game, the site of
is enough to strike fear into the hearts of CCBL opponents. Just more proof that size isn’t everything.