By Matt Schneidman
July 9, 2014
HARWICH — It’s been a theme that has plagued Cotuit more than desired as of late.
A starting pitcher struggles early and forces the bats to get Cotuit back in the game.
On Wednesday, that trend stood true as Vince Fiori (South Carolina) allowed nine earned runs in the first three innings. All of those runs came with two outs, and a valiant Kettleers’ (11-13-1) comeback fell short in an eventual 10-6 loss to Harwich (16-8-1) at Whitehouse Field.
“He tried to throw a little bit too hard tonight, didn’t change speeds anywhere near what he’s been doing,” head coach Mike Roberts said of Fiori. “When a left-hander who throws like Vince does, doesn’t get hitters out on the front foot, then he’s really trying to overthrow.”
With two down in the first, Sal Annunziata (Seton Hall) singled to center to bring in two. The next inning, it was Craig Aikin (Oklahoma) and Cavan Biggio (Notre Dame) who brought in runs with two outs.
Cotuit found itself in an all-too-familiar scenario, trailing by multiple runs in the first several innings.
Roberts has repeatedly stressed his team’s need for starting pitching, especially since it would fittingly complement Cotuit’s potent lineup and consistent bullpen.
In the third, it got even worse as Harwich tacked on two more, followed by an Aiken three-run blast to left. Since a 14-2 defeat to Hyannis on June 24, Cotuit hadn’t faced a deficit as large as the nine-run gap it found itself in after the third inning.
“I left a couple up and they hit that big home run that kind of put the game away, gave them that big lead in the third inning,” Fiori said. “I got into 0-2 a lot and they did a good job of putting the bat on the ball and seeing the ball get through a lot.”
But as they’ve had to do recently, the bats did their best to rescue the pitching.
The Kettleers scored three in the fourth. Then two more in the fifth. All of a sudden, a glimmer of hope was palpable among the Cotuit faithful.
The visitors tacked on one more in the seventh on an Ian Rice (Chipola College) RBI groundout to narrow a deficit that was once 9-0 to a more optimistic 10-6.
“They swung the bat really well, really well,” Roberts said of his team. “We’re extremely competitive. We’ve just got to learn to throw strikes.”
But in the end, the six runs weren’t enough. Ten runs from the hosts were too many.
With every run coming with two outs, all Fiori could do was point out that his fortunes could be flipped on any other day.
“Some days those balls are hit right to your infielders and they make the plays, and I get out of there with maybe a couple runs or no runs,” Fiori said. “It can go either way and I just have to keep working, keep getting better so those seeing-eye singles aren’t hits next time.
“That’s just baseball for you.”
On Monday, Grant Kay’s walk-off home run gave the Kettleers a one-run win after the pitching gave away a 6-1 lead. On Tuesday, the bats salvaged a comeback win for Cotuit against Bourne.
Sooner or later, the starting pitching is going to have to bring the team full-circle.
Said Roberts: “Hopefully sometime soon get up in a game instead of always being down and having to fight back.”
UP NEXT: Cotuit has an off day before visiting Falmouth on Friday at 6:30
NOTE: Cotuit’s Jackson Glines was scratched from the lineup after being hit in the hand during pregame. He was later taken to the hospital by his brother, who was in attendance.