By: Sean Bailey, Writing Intern, Providence College
July 3, 2013
COTUIT – In baseball momentum can swing quickly. One pitch can change a game before you blink. The Cotuit Kettleers and starter Chris Ellis (Ole Miss) learned this the hard way Wednesday against the Falmouth Commodores. Three pitches completely altered the game, and proved to be the downfall for the Kettleers in their 5-3 loss.
These pitches came early, and they came quickly. Ellis started well, and looked like he was ready to improve on his 0.56 ERA, cruising through the first inning with two strikeouts, touching 94 on the radar gun. However, in the second Casey Gillaspie (Witchita State) took an off balanced swing on a curveball, breaking his bat, but getting enough to push a single into right. Then Ellis left his first pitch fastball high to Dylan Davis (Oregon State) who put a charge into it, launching it over the leftfield fence, suddenly giving Falmouth a 2-0 lead. Ellis’ next pitch found the same spot, as his fastball caught too much of the plate and Kevin Cron (TCU) parked it in leftfield. With two pitches Falmouth grabbed a 3-0 lead. The third game changing pitch came in the fourth inning. Davis got his second fastball above the belt, and hit his second homerun, this one traveling to straightaway centerfield, and sending Falmouth into a 4-0 lead.
The Kettleers seemed to be destined for a comeback, swinging momentum on one pitch. Logan Ratledge (NC State) hit a single up the middle. A passed ball moved him to second. The next two Kettleers were retired, one by a pop out and the other by a strikeout in the dirt. Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) took a pitch off the foot, putting runners at first and second. That is when Mike Ford (Princeton) came to the plate, and took care of business. He took a 3-2 fastball and drove it deep into rightfield, over the leaping rightfielder and over the fence, trimming Falmouth’s lead to 4-3.
Momentum was taken right back in the sixth. Cron hit a one out single to up the middle. Then two passed balls advanced him to third, where a wild pitch scored Cron, and eliminated any momentum the Kettleers attained in the prior inning.
“It (the homerun) gave us momentum,” said Ford, “I just tried to get the team back in the game and got my pitch. But when the other run came in it took a little bit out of us.”
The long ball was far from Cotuit’s only problem though. The Kettleers bats struggled to drive runners home on the day, leaving seven on base, six of which were in scoring position.
“The key was we left a lot of people on base,” said Manager Mike Roberts following the game, “We didn’t get a lot done offensively, Mike (Ford) got a big hit but outside of that we didn’t do a lot.”
Cotuit’s lack of clutch hitting was evident early. In the second Jake Fincher (NC State) got a hit into right. Ratledge worked an eight-pitch walk putting runners on first and second. They both stole, perching runners at second and third. However, a safety squeeze was not hit far enough away, and the catcher got to the ball in front of the plate and threw out the runner at first.
In the fourth Tim Kiene (Maryland) led the inning off with a groundball single between first and second. He advanced to second on a high chopper to third, then a groundout to second moved him to third. Cotuit couldn’t advance him from there with a groundout to second to end the inning.
Another opportunity for Cotuit came in the eighth inning. Yale Rosen (Washington State) hit a one out double that one hopped the wall in center. But, Kevin Bradley (Clemson) got called out on a third strike on a full count. Then a ball was softly hit back to the pitcher to end the inning.
The final chance for Cotuit came in the ninth. Drew Jackson (Stanford) hit a one out single to center. He then drew a balk dancing off first base, advancing him to second. But he was left there after a strikeout and a groundout to second ended the game.
“Well we want to get the runners on base again, but maybe it was their pitching,” said Roberts about the lack of clutch hits, “You are not going to get clutch hits every game, but we needed a lot of them to come back from 4-0.”
Cotuit looks to extract revenge against the Commodores Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Falmouth.