By Paige Gibson
ORLEANS – There was a pitchers’ duel at Eldredge Park Saturday evening, but it wasn’t just between two starters.
The Cotuit Kettleers and Orleans Firebirds reached deep into their bullpens to finish an eleven-inning game, but it was Orleans who prevailed with a 1-0 victory. The Firebirds’ fourth win against the Kettleers sweeps the season series.
Cotuit started the ball game with their bats ready, and the momentum swinging in their favor. Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) logged the game’s first hit, and has now hit safely in 13 of Cotuit’s last 14 games.
As the game progressed, Cotuit missed out on opportunities to score.
Drew Jackson (Stanford) failed to execute on a safety squeeze bunt in the second frame. Jackson Glines (Michigan) was tagged at home as a result of the poor bunt. In the third inning, lackadaisical base running was their demise.
Orleans’ starting hurler Kyle Twomey (USC) picked off a pair of Kettleers. Twomey pitched four innings of scoreless ball to set the tone for the Firebirds.
Cotuit’s bats went silent after the missed opportunities. Jake Fincher’s (NC State) base knock would be the last hit before 19 straight Kettleers were retired.
“I don’t think there is anything you can put your finger on, both teams were silent,” Mike Roberts, Cotuit manager, said. “We had some opportunities early, but I think you boil it down to pretty good pitching from both sides. But as we have done in the past we walked people and we hit people and that cost us the ball game.”
Kettleers pitching was lights out through the first ten innings, but the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story. The pitchers walked the Firebirds seven times and plunked two batters.
Contrary to Cotuit, Orleans did not have their bats prepared at the start. Cotuit’s starting arm Nick Eicholtz (Alabama) kept the Firebirds at bay, giving up no hits during his 3 and 2/3-inning appearance. Logan James (Stanford) followed him with 2 and 1/3 innings in relief. Jackson McClelland (Pepperdine) extended the scoreless ball game into the 8th inning with two clean innings out of the pen.
The duel hit a lull as neither teams recorded hits from the bottom of the third inning to the top of the sixth inning. In the last of the sixth inning, Orleans found their niche, and began to gain their momentum.
The Kettleers used a total of six pitchers, as Grayson Jones (Shelton State CC) and Travis Duke (Texas) also appeared. Duke left the ball game with an apparent back injury to lead into Reagan Bazar’s (Louisiana Lafayette) stint. Bazar entered the game in the bottom of the 11th with runners on 1st and 2nd. With two outs, the game was determined when Bazar hit a batter and walked in Cole Peragine, the game’s only and deciding run.
“What we are trying to do is trying to improve our professionalism, our approach, trying to get every player on the team to be there on every pitch which we have not been able to accomplish this summer,” Roberts said. “So was that better in this ball game? Yeah. Overall play as far as pitch to pitch was better but like I told the guys, until you can prove to me otherwise, we’re the tenth team in this league and have to work our way up and we have one week to do it.”
Back-to-back losses against Orleans and Wareham hurt the Kettleers in the standings. The Hyannis Harbor Hawks moved into third place, shifting Cotuit down to the final playoff spot.
“I don’t predict anymore what college baseball players will do,” said Roberts. “I tell them it’s my job to teach, it’s your job to play, and they got to figure it out. If they figure it out we will continue to play, and if they don’t we will go home.”