By Sam Blum
July 3rd, 2014
FALMOUTH – Taylor Durand (Western Carolina) was asked to be the hero. After being released by Falmouth earlier in the week, he needed to get out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th.
Instead, his first two pitches bounced in the dirt. His third was two feet off the plate and his fourth bounced behind home plate and skidded to the backstop as Conner Hale walked in to score the winning run.
“I have no clue. None,” said Cotuit manager Mike Roberts when asked to explain Durand’s performance.
After throwing 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball, the Cotuit pitching staff surrendered the game-tying and winning runs in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Falmouth.
In the ninth, Jeff Kinley (Michigan State) blew the save with the Commodores down to their final out.
In the 10th, Gabe Berman (Western Michigan) loaded the bases, and Durand walked one in to end send the Commodore faithful home happy.
“They were a good hitting team,” said Adam Whitt, who allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings. “We made some pitches, and they made the adjustments.
“It was just a battle today.”
Kinley came on for a five-out save in the eighth inning and retired the first four without any trouble. But Sam Gillikin reached on a slow-rolling infield single to second base.
The next pitch he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Two pitches after that, Kevin Newman hit a seeing-eye single between short and second to tie the game.
The Kettleers went from the cusp of a win to fighting to send the game another inning.
Roberts said that it was his fault that the Commodores got back in the game, noting that Kevin Newman should have been intentionally walked with first base open.
“The second that ball hit the backstop, I said put him on, but I just didn’t do it,” Roberts said. “I ask them to be ready every pitch, and I was ready, but I just didn’t pull the trigger.”
In the bottom of the 10th, Kinley was taken out after recording the first out. Berman immediately allowed a single to Hale. Cameron O’Brien did the same on an 0-2 count and it sent Hale to third. Then he walked Boomer White and was immediately pulled for Durand.
“I just left the ball up, plain and simple,” said a frustrated Berman. “The ball was up in the zone, and I couldn’t throw quality strikes, and that’s it.”
Leading up until the that final out in the ninth, it had been one of the top pitching performances of the season for Cotuit.
Vince Fiori pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four. Then Adam Whitt pitched the same amount, and allowed just one run.
The Cotuit offense wasn’t doing much, but it was doing enough to seemingly have control of the game.
In the span of three pitches that all changed. And in the 10th, the bullpen finished the job.
“It is what it is,” Berman said. “Just gotta keep working hard.”
Up Next: Cotuit hosts Falmouth at 5 p.m. tomorrow.