By Matt Schneidman
June 12, 2014
(Full game video replay HERE)
COTUIT – Once again, Cotuit found itself with two runners on base in the ninth inning trailing by one against Hyannis.
But just like Wednesday’s opening-night loss, the Kettleers fell one run short of the Harbor Hawks.
Cotuit raced out to a 4-0 lead after the second inning, but what turned into a back-and-forth game was ultimately determined by a Ben Deluzio (Florida St) two-RBI triple in the top of the ninth that allowed Hyannis to squeak out a 6-5 victory over the Kettleers at Lowell Park on Thursday night.
“We could very easily be 2-0 right now and we know that,” DC Arendas (South Carolina) said. “We’re just going to build off what we’ve done well in the first two games and learn from what we’ve struggled with.”
For the second-straight night, the Kettleers found themselves in a nail biter in the ninth, but the game certainly didn’t start out that way.
Cotuit jumped on the board in the top of the first when Jake Fincher (North Carolina State) was able to score from third while Arendas was caught in a pickle between first and second.
The hosts tacked on three more runs in the second after Jeremy Taylor (East Tennessee State) scored on a wild pitch, Ian Rice (Chipola Junior College) laced a RBI single to center and Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) did the same.
Even though the bats woke up early, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts would still like his team to play more small ball.
“Swinging is fine, but I want to learn how to bunt,” Roberts said. “I’d rather learn how to bunt first and then learn how to hit. The trouble is, in America today, everybody hits but nobody wants to bunt.”
And while a Jeremy Taylor bloop double was the only hit the Kettleers mustered over the next five innings, the visitors chipped away at their early deficit.
Hyannis scored two runs in the third and two more in the seventh to tie the game at four, and after Cotuit was retired in order in the bottom of the seventh, the Harbor Hawks seemed to have all the momentum.
But after left-handed flamethrower A.J. Minter (Texas A&M) retired the side in the eighth and Fincher led off the bottom half with a walk and a steal, hope had been re-injected into the home team.
Arendas then bounced a single through the right side to drive in Fincher and give Cotuit a 5-4 lead.
“They brought the reliever in, and he was throwing mostly fastballs and sliders,” Arendas said. “I was looking for something early in the count to hit and I got a good pitch.”
But the Kettleers’ lead didn’t last long.
Minter struck out leadoff hitter Cam Gibson (Michigan St) in the top of the ninth, but then Kyle Servance (Houston) singled.
Roberts brought on right-hander Mason Klotz (Southeastern Louisiana), and he hit Daniel Kihle (Wichita St). Two batters later, Deluzio ripped a two-RBI triple to right-center field that scored both Servance and Kihle to give Hyannis a 6-5 advantage.
In the bottom of the ninth, Steve Karkenny led off the bottom half with a walk and pinch-runner Richard Carthon (Tulane) stole second. Harbor Hawks’ reliever Lance Thonvold (Minnesota) retired the next two batters, but a Hyannis error put runners on the corners with two outs and Jameson Fisher (Southeastern Louisiana) at bat.
But a 3-2 curveball froze Fisher and he was left staring ahead as the Harbor Hawks celebrated their second-straight one-run victory.
Although Cotuit starts the season 0-2, it won’t take much for the Kettleers to eventually turn these close losses into victories.
“We’ve just got to tune up a couple little things, stay in the zone a little bit more,” Fincher said. “Coach Roberts didn’t really say too much about what we need to do individually, but just kind of fix up little stuff, tune up some stuff and that’s about it.”
UP NEXT: Hyannis (2-0) hosts Bourne (2-0), Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Cotuit (0-2) faces Wareham (1-1), Friday 5:00 p.m. at Lowell Park.