By Matt Schneidman
June 24, 2014
COTUIT — With a 5-0 lead at the start of the eighth, the Hyannis bullpen was having a catch with a football.
It’s as if they knew how the inning would play out.
The Harbor Hawks (9-4) broke out for six runs in the inning, en route to a 14-2 win over Cotuit (6-7) at Lowell Park on Tuesday night. The hosts looked competitive after the first four innings, but it all unraveled after that, as the Kettleers ended up on the wrong end of a blowout for the second time in four days.
Head coach Mike Roberts boiled it down to one word he uttered seven times over the course of two and a half minutes after the game.
“This is an experienced league,” Roberts said. “I mean, we’ve won it two of the last four years. You win it with experience and we have to grow up in a hurry, and I mean in a big hurry.”
In that eighth inning, eight batters came to the plate before Cotuit recorded an out.
With no outs and runners on the corners, one run already in for the visitors in the frame, Kyle Holder (San Diego) bobbled a potential double-play ground ball. He then threw wide of Austin Byler (Nevada) at first, and a run scored on the play, with men still on first and second.
All season Roberts has noted his team’s “lack of polish” in losses, and that sequence typified the struggles the Kettleers have had in their roller-coaster-like season.
“I booted a ball and it’s probably hard for a pitcher to get back into it after that,” Holder said. “Stuff just kind of starts to swirl after that and it ends up getting pretty bad, so we’re just trying to stick together.”
The next three batters singled and after two runs scored when Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) airmailed third baseman Drew Jackson (Stanford) on a throw from right field, Hyannis had stretched its lead to 11-0.
On Tuesday, Luke Leftwich (Wofford), Bailey Clark (Duke) and Reagan Bazar (Louisiana-Lafayette) had trouble escaping jams, occasionally when they were just one out away.
Relief pitcher Gabe Berman (Western Michigan) echoed Roberts’ sentiments and noted how the team’s young pitchers will need to adjust in the future.
“A lot of young guys in this league, mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Berman said. “Just maturing as pitchers and knowing which pitches to throw in different counts and stuff like that.”
Cotuit was able to muster two runs in the eighth, but it gave three right back in the ninth, all of which came with two outs.
There’s no specific cure for a “lack of polish,” but the Kettleers will have to somehow erase the multi-error games if it wants to contend down the stretch.
“You’ve got to push your mind to stay in the game on every pitch so that way (the errors) don’t happen,” Holder said. “Sure, there’s bad hops and stuff, but you’ve just got to play through it.”
On opening night, Roberts said he’d have a gauge on his team’s potential on July 1.
After Tuesday’s game, he said he’s not close to that.
He’s mixed and matched with lineups all year, but now that he has a better idea of the “maturity” of most players, there will be no more of that.
“I’m through experimenting, I can tell you that,” Roberts said. “We’re going to put the guys out there that we think can do the job right now and that’s it.”
UP NEXT: Wednesday: Cotuit @ Brewster, 5 p.m. — Hyannis @ Falmouth, 6:30 p.m.