By Matt Schneidman
July 20, 2014
COTUIT — After allowing five runs in the first two innings against Orleans on Monday, Grayson Jones (Shelton State) threw a hitless first 2 1/3 against the Firebirds on Sunday.
But then things started to unravel with Cotuit holding a 3-0 lead in the third.
A mix of hit-by-pitches, walks, errors and base hits allowed Orleans to score in each the third, fourth and fifth innings and eventually pull out a 6-3 win in a rain-shortened, six and a half-inning game at Lowell Park that saw the Firebirds (20-12-1) remain undefeated against Cotuit (14-18-1) on the season.
The Kettleers struck first on something head coach Mike Roberts would be proud of, a suicide squeeze. Roberts played a lot of small ball at the beginning of the year but has scaled back as the season has progressed with more big bats in the lineup.
Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) laid one down in front of the plate and Jackson Glines (Michigan) just beat the tag at home to put the hosts on the board first against All Star Nathan Bannister.
Two batters later, Cotuit extended its lead against Bannister on a Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) two-RBI triple to right-center that plated Hendriks and Tres Barrera (Texas).
Finally, Cotuit was leading after the first several innings and its starting pitcher hadn’t run into trouble.
But then what has plagued the Kettleers so often this year struck in a big way.
A walk. A hit-by-pitch. Then a single. Orleans was on the board and Jones was pulled. As the Kettleers’ bats went silent over the next three innings, the Firebirds’ bats heated up.
A walked batter came around to score Orleans’ second run and four-straight singles tied the game for the visitors in the fourth.
In a game that started out looking like it would give Roberts’ legs a break from all the mound visits, the head coach did more than enough walking for a shortened game.
He brought in late-inning reliever Jeff Kinley (Michigan State) in the fifth inning and as the rain began to trickle down at Lowell Park, the game spiraled out of control for Cotuit.
With the bases loaded and no outs for Orleans in the fifth, Brett Stephens hit a high chopper to first base. Barrera fielded cleanly, but threw just wide of Jameson Fisher (Southeastern Louisiana) at home and two runs came around to score.
The error gave the Firebirds a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and although Kinley and Travis Duke (Texas) shut down the visitors in the next two innings, the rain was too much to bear after six and a half.
At that time the game at Lowell Park was the only one still being played in the league, but home plate Mike Ewen put a halt to that as rain was now pouring down.
With Orleans warming up for the bottom of the seventh, Ewen sent both teams into their dugouts, and subsequently sent the Kettleers to their third-straight loss.
UP NEXT: Cotuit will travel to Brewster on Monday for a 5:00 makeup game against the Whitecaps.