By Matt Schneidman
August 8, 2014
At 4 p.m. on Friday, Cotuit will take on Bourne in a win-or-go-home scenario at Lowell Park. Last night, the Braves pulled out a 5-3 win in Game 1 of the Western Division semifinals at Doran Park to put the Kettleers up against the wall.
Here are three keys for Cotuit to keep its season alive:
Continued command from Jeff Kinley
All head coach Mike Roberts asks of his pitchers is to throw strikes and change speeds and besides Adam Whitt, nobody does that better than Kinley. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but Kinley always keeps the ball low in the zone and the majority of his outs come on the ground.
“Out of (Kinley), we just need strikes with all pitches and force contact,” Jackson Glines said. “Let the defense work.”
Since assuming a role as a starter, Kinley has been masterful. In two starts, he’s pitched 11 innings of one-run ball, only allowing six hits and walking three. All season, the southpaw has shown command of the strike zone, which will be essential early on Friday if Cotuit is to be given a chance to strike first.
Be smart on the bases
In Thursday’s Game 1 loss, Roberts was more aggressive on the bases than he’s been of late, as shown by Jake Fincher’s two-straight stolen bases in the fourth inning. The head coach noted that his preffered run-first strategy can be a double-edged sword, though, especially since Cotuit has often found itself in deficits.
“You’re down a run, you’re down two runs, and it’s great if you’re successful,” Roberts said. “But if you get somebody thrown out and the next guy bangs a base hit, I really look at myself and say, ‘What am I doing?’”
Other than Fincher, not many players on the team possess consistent base-stealing speed, so Roberts has been forced to scale back with the green light more often than he’s used to.
“We’ve been down so much with this club that I kind of cut off running a bunch and it’s the least steals I’ve maybe ever had coaching a team,” Roberts said. “I don’t like it and it may be my mistake that I’ve backed off and kind of maybe got us in a little bit of an offensive doldrum.
“It’s something I’m really going to have to look at tonight going into tomorrow’s ballgame, see if we even want to be a little more aggressive.”
Keep a “0” in the errors column
It’s something that has plagued Cotuit at times this year.
Small defensive mishaps turn into big offensive innings for opponents, and that was no different in Game 1. A Drew Jackson throwing error loaded the bases for Bourne with no outs in the second and the Braves scored three in that frame.
“The thing is, even though there’s only one error on the board, it’s just kind of amazing what happens after errors,” Roberts said. “Vinny threw strikes, but we make an error and they get a couple runs off it.”
Since a six-error loss to Wareham on July 25, the Kettleers have been more polished on the defensive end, but to keep its season alive on Friday, they will need to be perfect.
If Kinley can continue his dominance and the offense can pound out double-digit hits, then Cotuit would be setting itself up nicely to force a rubber match on Saturday.
“Any team that’s really good defensively that has respectable pitching is probably not going to give up many runs,” Roberts said. “It’s just that we’re still not quite clean enough.”