by Nick Solari, Quinnipiac University
August 5, 2013
For those involved with the Cotuit Kettleers last season, the word ‘playoffs’ is simply a reminder of the devastating way 2012 ended. After finishing off the regular season at 30-14, easily the best record in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the No. 1 seeded Kettleers were beaten in three games by the No. 4 seeded Bourne Braves, ending their run at a championship.
This season, however, things are a bit different. The Kettleers did not end up with the best record in the league. In fact, they are the No. 3 seed in the Western Division, and will be taking on the No. 2 seeded Falmouth in the first round.
Nevertheless, Kettleers manager Mike Roberts says his team is focused and ready to go.
“I told our guys a few days ago heading into the two games with Falmouth that we could very well see them again in the first round,” head coach Mike Roberts said after the regular season finale on Sunday night. “I told them to take note of what each pitcher is doing out on the mound, and for the pitchers look for ways to attack some of their hitters.”
Though they are not set up the way in which they were last year, and are not made of the same players, perhaps this year provides the Kettleers with a chance to redeem the events that occurred last fall at Lowell Park in Cotuit.
The Kettleers pitching staff enter the playoffs with a 3.05 team-ERA, fourth in the CCBL and second in the Western Division.
Ben Smith (Coastal Carolina), Evan Beal (South Carolina), and Christian Cecilio (San Francisco) are the probable starting pitchers for the first round, and will anchor the Kettleers pitching staff.
Smith went 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA in seven starts. He struck out a team-high 35 batters in 28.2 innings, and only walked 11.
Beal went 2-3 on the season with a 2.72 ERA in 33 total innings pitched. The 6’4” power-pitching right-hander struck out 32 batters, and only walked 16.
Cecilio, a left-handed sinker-baller, went 3-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 37.1 total innings. He struck out 25 during that span, and only surrendered five free passes.
In terms of the bullpen, Cotuit has plenty of solid arms to throw at the end of ballgames.
Submariner Brian Miller (Vanderbilt) is the closer. He leads the team with five saves, and has a 3.00 ERA.
Joel Seddon (South Carolina) and Adam Ravenelle (Vanderbilt) are at the back end of Mike Roberts’ bullpen, as well. Seddon has an ERA at 2.17 in the setup role, and Ravenelle’s is just over 3.00.
Jared Walsh (Georgia) will be available out of the bullpen, as well. The southpaw was awarded with the team’s Most Valuable Pitcher award prior to the regular season finale at Lowell Park on Sunday, and allowed only four earned runs in 34 innings all season long.
Walsh posted a 1-0 record in six starts, and went six consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run from June 18th to July 16th. He posted a team-low 1.05 ERA, and threw the second most innings of any Kettleer active for the postseason.
Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) leads the way offensively for the Kettleers. The left fielder had 40 hits and 25 RBI’s, both team highs. Wiseman is hitting at .294 with four home runs and 12 stolen bases. He was awarded with the Kettleers Most Valuable Hitter of the Year award on Sunday.
Danny Diekroeger (Stanford) and Brett Jackson (Stanford) figure to cover third base and short stop, respectively. Diekroeger leads the full-time Cotuit position players with a .324 batting average.
Logan Ratledge (NC State) has been the second baseman, and a combination of newcomers Austin Byler (Nevada) and Caleb Bryson (Samford) will handle things at first.
Bryson has played three games thus far with the Kettleers after arriving from the Hamilton Joes of the Great Lakes League. In those three games he is a combined 4-for-13, with remarkably all four of his hits being home runs. He homered once against Chatham at Lowell Park, once in Falmouth, and twice during Sunday night’s season finale at Lowell Park against the Commodores.
Nolan Clark has been the every day catcher for Cotuit, playing in 38 of the 44 games behind the plate this season. Recently acquired backup Garrett Stubbs (USC) has played in two games and is active on the roster, as well.
Around the outfield Wiseman, Hunter Cole (Georgia), Bradley Zimmer (San Francsico), and Jake Fincher (NC State) figure to lead the way.
Zimmer left the Kettleers during the middle of the season to play with Team USA, but came back on July 25th. He is hitting at a .281 clip on the Cape. The 6’5” right fielder is currently listed as day-to-day heading into the first round, however, due to an apparent knee injury after crashing into Ratledge on a pop fly on Sunday.
Fincher, alongside Wiseman, was the only other Cotuit hitter to play in the CCBL all-star game. He sits at .295 with 18 stolen bases currently, and has played some first base this year as well.
Overall, the Kettleers have added nine new players over the past 20 days.
Cotuit’s first round opponent, the Falmouth Commodores, rank atop the league in runs, hits, homeruns, RBI’s, and total bases. Head coach Mike Roberts knows exactly just how good the Commodores can be, and says his team must be fully focused heading into the series.
“We are familiar with everyone in our division at this point, and they are no exception,” Roberts said of the powerful Falmouth team. “I really like their (Falmouth’s) order, but I think our guys are prepared enough to face the challenge. This is where it gets fun, this time of year. We have to be ready.”