By Matt Schneidman
July 12, 2014
COTUIT – Head coach Mike Roberts said it was the second-hardest ball he’s seen hit to right field in his 11 years with Cotuit.
Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) said he was surprised to even put the ball in fair territory.
The lefty’s three-run shot midway up the trees past the right-field fence gave Cotuit a 5-2 lead in the eighth after John Norwood (Vanderbilt) hit a solo shot to tie the game at two to start the inning. After Trey Wingenter (Auburn) turned in the best start of the season for the Kettleers, the eighth-inning rally sparked by Norwood and Hendriks salvaged a 5-2 win for Cotuit (12-14-1) over Wareham (9-18) at Lowell Park on Saturday night.
“It was good to see, just to unleash our bats in those last innings,” Roberts said. “We just had to do it for the team and it was a great experience.”
Wingenter threw six innings – the longest a Cotuit starter has lasted all summer – while striking out six and only allowing one earned run.
But the normally scorching Kettleer bats were stagnant and it seemed as if Wingenter’s masterful performance would go to waste.
Then momentum shifted in the seventh.
Tres Barrera (Texas) hit his second home run in as many days to lead off the inning to pull the hosts within one at 2-1. Norwood then blasted the first pitch of the bottom of the eighth over the “397” sign in dead center to tie the game.
“I just saw a fastball, made sure I was on time in the on-deck circle and made sure I was ready to hit as soon as I got in the box,” Norwood said. “I saw a pitch I liked and put my head to it.”
Five batters later, Hendriks came up with two outs and runners on second and third.
He had been 0-3 up until that point but certainly made up for it with what he did next.
Left-handed submariner Jason Richman hung a curveball to the left-handed Hendriks. He waited on it and annihilated the ball over the right-field fence.
“I’ve never really faced a lefty submariner, so I was going in there just hoping to hit something fair,” Hendriks said. “He threw me a pitch and I saw it early enough. I was surprised I hit it fair and luckily it went over the fence.”
Roberts said the only other person he’s seen hit a ball that hard to right was a 250-pound left-hander. After that, he stopped, laughed to himself and said that at-bat shows why he’s learned never to predict what anybody is going to do.
Although Roberts may not have seen that power coming from Hendriks, he’s not complaining.
“I guarantee you he’s never hit a ball even close to that hard in his life,” Roberts said. “I don’t think he’ll ever hit a baseball that far again.”
And on a day where Cotuit finally got a quality start, it was Norwood and Hendriks who ultimately made sure Wingenter’s work wouldn’t go to waste.
Recently, the Cotuit bats have shown they have the ability to keep the team in any game regardless of the deficit, and Saturday’s power surge was no different.
“That was really important for our club,” Roberts said. “To know they can come back like that.”
UP NEXT: Cotuit hosts Yarmouth-Dennis at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park on Sunday.