By Jon Mettus
June 24, 2015
COTUIT — For head coach Mike Roberts, there’s been one constant during his team’s five-game losing streak and stretch of 10 games in which it’s lost dropped nine: poor defense.
“If you look at our club right now, if you look at one Achilles’ heel, it’s our defense,” head coach Mike Roberts said.
On Wednesday, the trend continued as the Kettleers (4-10) committed three errors and surrendered two home runs in a 5-0 loss to the Bourne Braves (6-7-1) at Lowell Park.
“We just got to keep trying to clean it up,” Roberts said.
Matt Milburn (Wofford) started on the mound for Cotuit, surrendering four runs — three earned — on four hits and striking out six in five innings. He was given the loss.
Michael Paez (Coastal Carolina), who came into the game leading the league in batting average, walked twice.
Milburn got out of the first inning with just one hit allowed, but the second inning got out to a rocky start. Kettleers’ third baseman Spencer Gaa (Bradley) bobbled a grounder to third, allowing the batter to reach safely, then Milburn hit Max McDowell (Connecticut) in the arm with a pitch.
After an out, Vince Fernandez (UC Riverside) hit a line drive into right field that cleared the fence and landed next to a fan in a red shirt standing up against the fence, giving Bourne a 3-0 lead. Will Haynie (Alabama) walked to the mound and tapped Milburn on the arm.
“It was just a high changeup out of my hand,” Milburn said. “I could feel it and I knew it right out of my hand that it was bad.”
Millburn recovered to retire five of the next six batters, but when Reid Humphreys (Mississippi State) led off the top of the sixth, he sent Millburn’s pitch into right — slightly to the left of where Fernandez’s went — over the fence near three fans sitting on a log for a solo homer.
“Just mistake pitches that I got to get better at,” Milburn said. “We’ll work on it.”
The Kettleers threatened to respond, but could never get a runner across. In the next half inning, Zack Collins (Miami) drew a two-out walk and Branden Berry hit a blooper into center that fell between a host of Braves players for a single.
Bourne switched pitchers to Gavin Pittore (Wesleyan) and he struck Brett Stephens (UCLA) looking. Cotuit couldn’t muster a hit for the final three innings.
When the Braves recorded the final out of the game, three players jumped together in the grass behind second base.
“In this league I’ve seen a lot of teams go from first to last and from last to first in seven days,” Roberts said. “So we just hope that something clicks.”
The Kettleers (4-10) face the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (8-6) on Thursday at 6 p.m. at McKeon Park in a make-up game. The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but it was postponed because of weather.