By Sam Blum
July 21, 2014
BREWSTER – Vince Fiori (South Carolina) stood on the top of the dugout steps as his team batted in the top of the eighth inning. He had a towel hanging around his neck.
He didn’t look like a guy preparing to pitch into the eighth inning of Cotuit’s best-thrown game of the year. He was as locked in as he’s ever been, but his body language was relaxed.
“I’m loose in the dugout, Fiori said. “There’s nothing different about going out for big innings. Whether it’s the first, second, third or eighth.
The southpaw threw seven-plus shutout innings at Brewster on Monday, eclipsing the Kettleers season-high by a full inning. He used a steady diet of changeups to get hitters out and boosted Cotuit to it’s first nine-inning shutout of the season in a 3-0 win at Brewster to snap a three-game losing streak.
In his last start against Harwich, Fiori allowed nine runs in three innings, and was relegated to the bullpen afterward. Today, he wasn’t announced as the starter until just hours before game time.
“I think the whole team knew that we needed somebody to give us six, seven, eight innings,” manager Mike Roberts said. “Sometimes players know when you’re in a rut and he struggled a couple times and went back and pitched today.”
That was the key for Roberts. Pitching. He said that in previous outings, Fiori had been a thrower. Today, he was a pitcher.
He got himself in trouble in each of the first three innings. In the first, there was a hit and a walk. In the second, two errors and a hit. In the third, two more hits. Each time the runners were erased.
Fiori also excelled defensively. He retired the first batter of the second on a line drive right at him that he dropped and recovered on a throw to first. With runners on second and third that inning, he caught a line drive at him then made the putout to end the inning on the next pitch.
“I had some screamers come right back at me,” Fiori said with a smile.
After the third inning, Fiori settled down. In the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, he had a span of 11 straight batters retired. A start that appeared on life-support had gone on cruise control, to the point that Roberts put Fiori back out to pitch the eighth.
After Drew Jackson (Stanford) made an errant throw on a hard hit grounder to third to start the eighth, Roberts walked out of the dugout and signaled for his closer, Adam Whitt (Nevada).
It was just a really good job of a left-hander pitching the way left-handers have got to do,” Roberts said. ”…I think sometimes when lefties get tired they’re even better.”
Roberts was all smiles after the game. After weeks of pulling pitchers before the fourth because of high pitch counts and lack of command, Fiori crafted an outing that has been nowhere to be found for the Kettleers all season.
“My arm felt fresh. My fastball and changeup were working, and I got my slider over when I needed to.
“It felt good.”
UP NEXT: Cotuit hosts Chatham at 5 p.m at Lowell Park on Tuesday.