By: Nick Solari, Writing Intern, Quinnipiac University
July 29, 2013
COTUIT – Hyannis left-hander Kyle Freeland (Evansville) has had his way with Cape League hitters for the majority of the season. Coming into Monday’s start at Lowell Park he was 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 33.1 innings with 29 strikeouts.
Freeland cruised through the first five innings, and looked as though he was on his way to his fourth victory. He had a five-hit shutout going, and was stifling Kettleers hitters with his 92-93 mile-per-hour fastball.
In the sixth inning, however, things drastically changed.
Cotuit plated four runs on four hits in the bottom half of the sixth, reliever Eric Karch (Pepperdine) threw five shutout innings out of the bullpen, and the Kettleers defeated Hyannis by the final of 4-1.
“They had a really good pitcher on the mound with Freeland. He was exceptional,” Kettleers manager Mike Roberts said after the game. “Games like that can go either way, and fortunately we got the bounces tonight.”
With the win the Kettleers captured the 2013 Barnstable Patriot Cup, going 4-2 against the first-place Barnstable foe for the regular season.
“It’s exciting to win it. The crowd realty gets into it,” Karch said of the cup. “I just wanted to do my part and come in for Walsh and do well.”
Jeff Schalk (Alabama Birmingham) got the Harbor Hawks on the board first in the top half of the third inning. After Auston Slater (Stanford) doubled to begin the inning Slater ripped a single to center for his 12th RBI of the season to put the visitors on top 1-0.
Meanwhile, Cotuit stranded runners on base in each of the first three innings.
Jake Fincher (NC State) singled in the top half of the first, then Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco) beat out an infield single to put runners on first and third with one out. Logan Ratledge (NC State) grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Hunter Cole (Georgia) singled in the second, but was later thrown out trying to steal second for the third and final out of the inning.
Nolan Clark (Concordia) singled to right field in the third. He reached second base on a groundout, but was stranded there as Fincher struck out to end the inning.
The Kettleers finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning. Fincher was hit by a pitch, and Zimmer singled. Fincher then stole third base and Zimmer advanced behind him to put two runners in scoring position for Ratledge.
Ratledge promptly blasted a 1-1 fastball to deep left-center, scoring both runs to put Cotuit ahead 2-1. Freeland was then pulled from the game after going 5.1 innings. He gave up seven hits on the night, was charged with three runs, and struck out seven.
Hunter Cole gave the Kettleers some insurance just two batters later, as he lined a ball up the middle off of Hyannis reliever Mike Gunn (Arkansas Fayetteville) and was able to get beat out the base hit, driving in Ratledge to make it 3-1.
The next batter was Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt). Wiseman got an 0-1 inside fastball from Gunn and pulled it down the right field line for a stand up triple, driving in Cole to push the lead to 4-1.
“We haven’t put a lot of big innings together, but we got some good swings in the sixth tonight,” Roberts said. “I was happy with our approach at the plate in that inning.”
Karch went 5.0 shutout innings in relief to shut the door on Hyannis, and improved to a perfect 3-0 on the season. He gave up only one hit and struck out five in an excellent effort.
“Just locating my fastball and my change were key today,” Karch said afterwards. “I had been throwing some bullpen sessions and been getting better, and it showed.”
His manager was impressed with the work ethic of Karch over the last few weeks.
“Eric didn’t have very good rhythm in his last couple of outings, but today he was phenomenal,” Roberts said. “He went back and worked very hard in his bullpen outings, and tonight’s the best he has thrown all year. It was really pleasing to see Erik close the door the way he did.”
Jared Walsh got the start, going the first 4.0 innings and giving up five hits, one run, and striking out three.
With the win the Kettleers improve to 22-15-1 on the season, pulling within only one point of Hyannis for first place in the Western Division.
Cotuit is back in action at Lowell Park again tomorrow, when they will take on Orleans at 5 p.m. in a rain make-up game.