By Matt Schneidman, Syracuse University
June 14, 2014
Video Highlights by Axel Boada HERE
PROTESTED 4TH-INNING CALL LEADS INTO GAME-WINNING SEQUENCE
After three innings, Cotuit sent the minimum nine batters to the plate and trailed 1-0 to Yarmouth-Dennis.
But to start the bottom of the fourth, Jake Fincher (North Carolina State) hit an infield single and DC Arendas (South Carolina) walked. The Kettleers were positioned nicely to get on the board, but then Fincher was caught stealing and a balk call that would’ve put runners on second and third with one out was overturned.
Head coach Mike Roberts protested furiously, literally.
What started off as a promising inning now had the feel that it would turn into an all-too-familiar scenario for Cotuit where it left runners on base in a one-run game.
“When a pitcher stops his motion, it’s a balk,” Roberts said. “Most batters that want time, they ask for time from the umpire. Well the umpire didn’t give it to him.
“The umpire interpreted it as because the hitter said ‘time,’ he created the balk. Well, in my estimation, the pitcher created the balk because he stopped his motion.”
Jameson Fisher (Southeastern Louisiana) waited for almost six minutes in the middle of his at bat as Roberts jawed with the umpires, but once Roberts officially filed a protest and Fisher stepped back to the plate, the Kettleers’ fortunes turned.
He grounded into what seemed like a routine 4-6-3 double play, but Y-D shortstop Donnie Walton (Oklahoma State) overthrew first base and Fisher advanced to second while Arendas came around to score to tie the game.
“I was just trying to stay loose, not think about what’s going on,” Fisher said of the wait during his at bat. “…just worry about the next pitch that’s coming and take one pitch at a time.”
Then Brendan Hendricks (San Francisco) lined the ball off Y-D pitcher Michael Murray’s (Florida Gulf Coast) foot and while Hendricks beat out a throw at first, Fisher chugged around from second.
In a bang-bang play at the plate with the game tied at one, Fisher swiftly avoided catcher Jason Goldstein’s (Illinois) tag and maneuvered his arm above Goldstein’s to touch home and give Cotuit (1-2) a 2-1 lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish against the Red Sox (0-3) at Lowell Park on Saturday night.
“I got called out the other day on a slide similar to it and I wanted it bad, so this time I was going to try and get in there as hard as I could,” Fisher said. “Three one-run games in a row, it feels good to get the first one out of the way and hopefully we can get on a roll.”
HENDRIKS COMES UP BIG ON BOTH ENDS TO HELP COTUIT TO FIRST WIN
One small bounce or one key play can be the deciding factor in a one-run game, a fact Cotuit already knows all too well.
In Saturday’s 2-1 win, it was Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) who provided two key plays that finally helped put the Kettleers on the winning side of its third one-run game this season.
In the bottom of the fourth, it was Hendriks who picked up the RBI infield single off Murray’s foot that ended up being the deciding factor in the game, and he was the first one to acknowledge his good fortune.
“We just got lucky,” Hendriks said. “We got a couple hops when we needed to, and we ended up getting the win and that’s all you need.”
In the top of the ninth with the hosts clinging to a 2-1 lead, Adam Whitt (Nevada) walked the leadoff batter, leaving Roberts shaking his head atop the dugout steps.
Whitt induced a groundout to the next batter, and with one out and a man on first, Brennon Lund (Brigham Young) smacked a hard grounder between first and second that was destined for right field.
It could’ve put runners on the corners with one out for Y-D, but Hendriks made a diving stop, hustled to tag first himself, as the Cotuit faithful breathed a sigh of relief.
Whitt struck out A.J. Simcox (Tennessee) looking to end the game, and although Hendriks was a big reason Cotuit was able squeak out a victory, he wasn’t about to take the credit.
“I was just a benefactor here,” Hendriks said. “I mean, you look around, and a lot of the guys put on great performances.”
And although Hendriks hasn’t seen as much time as the likes of an Arendas or Fisher, he certainly put his mark on Cotuit’s much-needed first win.
“It’s good to get the first win at home,” Hendriks said. “…got a doubleheader tomorrow, so hopefully we can keep that rolling and go right through tomorrow.”