By Matt Schneidman
July 30, 2014
Thirty-nine games into the regular season, Cotuit stands three games ahead of Wareham for the last playoff spot with five games to play.
The Kettleers just lost leadoff hitter Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) to injury, two other primary bats – John Norwood (Vanderbilt) and Tres Barrera (Texas) – were banged up on Tuesday and the team has scored only one run in the last 27 innings.
A once-flourishing Cotuit offense has sputtered, and with several nagging injuries head coach Mike Roberts is forced to mix and match with his team in the home stretch of the season. A set lineup is certainly desired at this point of the summer, but Roberts will have to readjust as Cotuit looks to lock up a playoff berth in the coming days, a mission that would be boosted with a win against Hyannis Wednesday night at McKeon Park.
One adjustment that needs to be made is finding a new leadoff hitter after Wiseman was hit in the right wrist in the first inning of Saturday’s loss at Orleans. He’s since returned home to Mansfield, Mass. and is out for the season due to that injury.
“Rhett is an absolute sparkplug,” Roberts said. “It’s his second year here. I’ve known him since he was a junior in high school. I know how hard he plays the game and I hate that the injury came about.”
But as Roberts acknowledged, injuries are natural in baseball and Cotuit will have to look elsewhere for production atop the lineup.
Unfortunately, at this time of year it’s near impossible to find someone of Wiseman’s caliber to lead a team looking to defend a Cape League championship.
“The thing is, can you find the right kind of guys,” Roberts said. “I’d like to bring some speed guys. I’d like to bring a leadoff hitter, but right now we don’t have any idea where that person would be.”
Potentially without a replacement, will Roberts re-insert Jake Fincher (NC State) into the lineup despite his prolonged slump? Will he move Norwood back to the top of the order? Or could Roberts follow his own philosophy of putting his best hitter at No. 1 and move the red-hot Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) to the leadoff spot?
Once a presumed lock for a playoff spot, Cotuit could be involved in a monumental game Friday night against Wareham at Spillane Field depending on how the next two days play out.
For Roberts, he’ll just have to make do with what he has as he fights to secure a playoff berth.
“Every team has injuries and you’ve got to plug the holes,” Roberts said. “So you just do that and move on, and that’s what we’ll try to do this week.”