By: Sean Bailey, Writing Intern, Providence College
July 30, 2013
COTUIT – Have you ever wondered what happens when two hot things meet? Tuesday, fans received an answer, as the Cotuit Kettleers squared off with the Orleans Firebirds at Lowell Park. And the hottest team on the Cape prevailed as the Firebirds flew to their seventh straight win, besting the Kettleers 2-0.
Cotuit cannot blame their pitching for the loss. The staff threw a superb game, with Evan Beal (South Carolina) getting the start. Beal mixed sliders, curveballs, and change ups to accompany his low 90’s heater. He threw 6 1/3 innings, only allowing two runs on five hits. Then Michael Roberts (Coppin State) and Wesley Cox (Texas San Antonio) pitched scoreless relief.
“They (the pitching) continue to carry us,” said Manager Mike Roberts. “They have really pitched well. Evan, the other Roberts, and Cox did a really nice job.”
The problem was the Firebirds were able to quench any rally the Kettlers attempted to amount. The Kettleers had runners reach every inning except for the ninth and sixth. They stranded seven total through the game.
“I’m trying to tell them that I can force runs, and safety squeeze and do some things,” said Roberts. “My preference is not to do that. I would love to see their ability come out, their competitiveness come out. I want them to play.”
The best chance for Cotuit came early in the first inning. After two quick outs, Bradley Zimmer (University of San Francisco) hit a grounder to first, but he was able to beat the pitcher to first for the infield single. Then he stole second on the first pitch. The second pitch he got a great jump and easily swiped third. Logan Ratledge (NC State) worked a walk to perch runners at the corners. Then Austin Byler (Nevada) had an epic nine pitch at bat, which resulted in a walk to load the bases with two outs. No runs would cross when Hunter Cole (Georgia) popped out to first.
The Kettleers squandered a lead off double in the fourth by Ratledge, then really missed an opportunity in the fifth. Drew Jackson (Stanford) led off with a flare to the left center gap that went for a double. Nolan Clark (Concordia) then dropped a bunt down the first base line and was able to slide into first safely with an infield hit. Again, the Kettleers were unsuccessful bringing home the runners. Danny Diekroeger (Stanford) flew out to right field, not deep enough to score Jackson. Then Jake Fincher (NC State) lifted a fly into center, but that also was not deep enough to score Jackson, as Ross Kivet (Kansas State) gunned Jackson out at home to end the inning.
Beal had his only hiccup in the fifth inning. Beal had fired four innings of two hit baseball, and had retired the last five Firebirds before Jordan Betts (Duke) stepped to the plate. Betts worked the count full when he took a low fastball and drove it on a line over the left field fence for the game’s first run. After a strikeout, Shane Conlon (Kansas State) hit a single right back up the middle. Then Vince Conde (Vanderbilt) drove a ball into the left center gap to drive in Conlon from first to make it 2-0.
“They (the pitching) only had the one home run and the double in the gap,” said Roberts.
That proved the difference as four different Firebirds relievers fired four shut out innings, twice striking out the Cotuit side in order, securing a 2-0 victory. The win clinches a playoff berth for the Firebirds.
“We have to find a way to support the pitching. Orleans has really dominated us the last two times we have faced them,” said Roberts. “This is a pitching league and somehow we have to find a way to unlock it offensively.”
Cotuit will look to unlock it Wednesday at Wareham against the Gatemen at 7 p.m.