By Sam Blum
July 17, 2014
COTUIT – Luke Leftwich (Wofford) was facing a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation to lead off the fourth. After facing the minimum in the first three innings, Cotuit’s two-run lead was in jeopardy.
But Conner Hale (LSU), Falmouth’s hottest hitter lined a pitch right to Logan Taylor at short, who stepped on second for a rally-killing double play.
“You got bases loaded, no outs and you’re a little stressed and then that happens,” Leftwich said. “Then it’s like, ‘Oh, I got this.’”
Leftwich started and pitched 3 2/3 one-run innings, then Vince Fiori (South Carolina), Ashton Perritt (Liberty) and Adam Whitt (Nevada) combined to allow just one more run in a clean 4-2 win for Cotuit over Falmouth at Lowell Park on Thursday afternoon.
The game lasted just 2:15, and the quick result was boosted by dominant innings on the mound.
“It was one of the few times this season that I thought our pace of the game was really good,” manager Mike Roberts said. “Luke set a really good pace. I think when you’re aggressive on the mound, throwing strikes, everything follows suit.”
After Leftwich departed with two outs in the fourth, Fiori came in to retire four batters without giving up a run.
When there were two on and one out for Perritt in the sixth inning, he struck out the next two hitters on a combined six pitches.
“The thing that’s helped us more and more are the middle people have done a really good job,” Roberts said.“…Whether we win or lose, we’d like to pitch a little more like that in the future.”
And while the middle of the game pitching has been a low-point for Cotuit this season, the back end of the bullpen has been strong since day one.
Adam Whitt, sporting a sub-1.00 ERA, came in to record the last five outs.
He was tasked with two inherited runners in scoring position and one out, with Cotuit up three in the eighth inning. He escaped the jam allowing just one run to cross the plate before closing it out in the ninth.
“One of my goals coming into the summer was instead of becoming a closer or a setup guy or a role, I’m just trying to become pitcher,” Whitt said. “However many outs or innings the coach needs me.”
Thurday’s win was crucial not only because it solidified Cotuit’s hold on third place in the Western Division standings while inching it closer to second. It was big because it signified a shift in the tide of the pitching staff.
For weeks, there were no defined roles. Starters were walking the ballpark. Middle relievers let the damage pile.
Now, though, with three wins in four games, Cotuit’s pitching has stabilized, if not thrived.
“We’re definitely coming together,” Leftwich said. “We’ve really grown as a staff, and you can tell because we’ve been doing a lot better as a whole. Everyone has their own roles, and everyone’s performing in their roles.”
UP NEXT: Cotuit travels to Yarmouth-Dennis for a 5 p.m. game against the Red Sox.