By Sam Blum
June 28, 2014
COTUIT – Adam Whitt (Nevada) strolled off the mound with his head down. When he got to the dugout all of his teammates wanted to know how many strikeouts he had recorded in his 2 2/3 innings of work.
Some guessed five. Others said six.
“I had no idea how many,” Whitt said.
Whitt struck out seven batters over his eight scoreless outs in Cotuit’s (8-8) 3-1 win over first-place Harwich (11-5) on Saturday at Lowell Park.
His performance was sandwiched between starter Logan James (Stanford) who allowed just one run over five innings and closer Jeff Kinley (Michigan State) who shut the door on a monster pitching performance with a four-out save.
“We’ve been talking pitching, all the pitchers now in the bullpen,” Whitt said. “We’ve been going over pitching strikes, low strikes, using our changeup and off-speed and just our overall approach to pitching carrying the team a little more.”
One night after Vince Fiori (South Carolina), Trey Wingenter (Auburn) and Kinley combined to allow just two runs in a win at Hyannis, the pitching once again carried Cotuit.
James induced a ground out on the first pitch of the game, and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
In that inning he escaped a jam with two runners in scoring position after allowing the first run to score.
“I thought Logan today and Vince last night did a great job of taking what we’re working on in the bullpen to the mound,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said.
Even when the Kettleers got into jams, they worked their way out.
James averted further damage in the fourth. In the seventh, the Mariners loaded the bases against Whitt. But he got Ian Happ to go down swinging to get out of the jam.
In the ninth, the tying runs were on first and second base, and Kyle Barrett knocked it into the gap. Collin Shaw (Texas), in his first game with Cotuit, made a diving catch to end the game.
“It’s nice having guys that have experience in college being closers,” Kinley said. “And it’s nice having more than one on the team.”
The pitching staff has benefited from having more defined roles. In the beginning of the season, Roberts would pitch upward of five pitchers per game in the hopes of finding people to fill specific roles.
Now, he said, he has a set rotation and a core of go-to relievers that include Whitt and Kinley as his closers.
“They’re preparing themselves because we’re working with every pitcher on the staff pretty much the same way,” Roberts said. “The expectations have been upped.“
When Cotuit went on its four game winning streak at the beginning of the season, it was the pitching that kept it in the game. It was the pitching that got the wins.
When, just days later, the Kettleers went on a stretch of losing 6-of-8, it was the pitching once again that proved to be difference. In four of those losses, the Kettleers combined to allow 39 runs.
Today, though, the staff got the job done.
Up next: Cotuit travels to Wareham (4-11) for a 6 p.m. game. Harwich is at home against Orleans (7-8) at 5:30.