By: Sean Bailey, Writing Intern, Providence College
June 19, 2013
ORLEANS – Momentum is an overtaxed word in the world of sports. Announcers will giddily announce that momentum is building, writers will slam the word into their keyboards dozens of times, and fans will rant on momentum’s power. The Cotuit Kettleers play of late is the embodiment of the idea of momentum, as they keep winning, each win building on the next. The latest was their fifth straight and came on the road against the Orleans Firebirds 6-3. For Cotuit it was another stellar offensive performance, complete with good base running, and coupled with some timely pitching.
“We have been able to bunch some opportunities together. I am certainly pleased with the way we are playing,” said coach Mike Roberts following the win. “The team is beginning to develop some identity and some consistency.”
Cotuit’s offensive began in the third inning. It was ignited by Hunter Cole (Georgia) who ripped a line drive double down the first base line. The next pitch then tipped off the catcher’s glove and rolled to the backstop advancing Cole to second. Mike Ford (Princeton) wasted no time taking advantage of Cole in scoring position, knocking him in driving a ball into the gap. However, he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Elliot Caldwell (Spartanburg Methodist) came to the plate in his first start since suffering a thumb injury in a preseason scrimmage. He promptly took a hanging curve and sent it into orbit, as the ball flew over the left centerfield fence to prop Cotuit up 2-0.
“It felt really good,” said Caldwell about the homerun, “It was nothing short of a miracle getting my finger back and healthy so fast.”
Orleans would gain ground with a solo homerun to right field in the fourth, however Cotuit responded quickly in the fifth. Cole again started it with a beautiful bunt single that fell perfectly between the pitcher and the third basemen. Then Ford hit a single to right center. Caldwell then worked a walk after falling behind in the count one ball two strikes. Cotuit would benefit from passed balls from there as two passed balls brought home two Cotuit runs.
The Firebirds would look to fly back into the game, this time in the fifth with another homerun to open the inning. A walk, and a steal by Will Fuller (Montevallo) set a runner in scoring position with Cotuit nursing a 4-2 lead. Then Jordan Luplow (Fresno State) dropped a bunt single, perching Firebirds at first and third with two outs. Smith then reared back and ended the inning on an impressive curveball freezing the Firebird hitter to end the inning and preserve the lead. That pitch would end his night, a winning night for Smith as he went five strong giving up two runs, while striking out five and giving up four hits with only two walks.
Cotuit’s offense added another run in the seventh off a Yale Rosen (Washington State) single that drove in pinch runner Gali Cribbs Jr (Clarendon), swelling the Kettleers lead to 5-2.
The Firebirds nearly flew into the lead in the eighth inning. A double by Luplow led the inning off. Patrick Corbett (Coastal Carolina) picked up a strikeout on high heat, but Zach Fish (Oklahoma State) hit a single, which would have scored Luplow except for Bradley Zimmer’s (University of San Francisco) hard charge on the soft single held Luplow at third. A walk to Riley Moore (University of Arizona) loaded the bases with one out. This brought Brian Miller (Vanderbilt) in. And he corralled the Firebirds again, forcing two pop ups to short and second to end the inning, and dismiss the threat.
“Brian has a lot of experience from Vanderbilt pitching in those situations. He came here to close games,” said Roberts of Miller’s outstanding performance.
Both teams would add runs in the ninth inning to set the final score at 6-3 in Cotuit’s favor. The win sets the Kettleer’s record to 6-1, tied for the best in the Cape League with the Chatham Anglers. Cotuit has Thursday off but return to action Friday when they will visit Harwich at 7 p.m.