By Jon Mettus
June 12, 2015
FALMOUTH — It didn’t matter whether it was Austin Solecitto (Rice), Mitch Stallings (Duke), Cal Becker (Riverside Community College) or Matthew Kinney (Belmont) on the mound for Cotuit.
Falmouth didn’t have an answer for any of them.
The four pitchers led the Kettleers to a 3-0 win over the Falmouth Commodores at Arnie Allen Diamond at Guv Fuller Field on Friday. The pitching staff got into some trouble, but managed to strand 10 Commodores runners on base to preserve the clean sheet.
Solecitto got the nod and stuck out two batters in 2 1/3 innings, before Stallings entered in relief in the third. Stallings earned the win for his 2 2/3 innings, and then Becker took his turn on the mound for three outs.
Kinney was the shining star in the rotation on the evening. He closed out the last three innings, conceding just one hit and striking out two batters and completing the save.
“Pitching is always the key to any success in baseball,” head coach Mike Roberts said. “I thought our pitching staff that went out there tonight did a good job.”
Prior to the game, Solecitto stood on the mound in the visitors’ bullpen that was positioned underneath an aged red scoreboard. It was just a few feet from the visitors’ stands with no barrier in between.
He tossed pitch after pitch, consistently hitting his mark and earning praise from catcher Will Haynie (Alabama). But in the bottom of the first — after an RBI double by Matt Albanese (Bryant) gave Cotuit a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning — Solecitto got into some trouble.
Two singles left runners on the corners, but the lefty struck out Falmouth’s Mitch Longo (Ohio) on three pitches. Longo watched the last pitch cross the plate and the umpire punched him out. He stood motionless with his bat in his right hand, staring at the ground.
The Cotuit bats added a second run in the top of the third and Stallings entered with a runner on first and one away in the bottom half of the inning. After a single and passed ball, Falmouth threatened again with two outs.
“Way to go, Mitch. Here we go, Mitch,” Kettleers pitchers yelled encouragingly from the bullpen.
And Stallings induced an inning-ending groundout to second base to escape the jam.
“I think we have a really impressive staff and I think we can just keep building on everyone’s performances,” Becker said. “… Coach Roberts sets the standard and we try to exceed it.”
With one runner on base in the bottom of the fourth, Commodores first baseman Andrew Yacyk (Liberty) hit a fly ball to left off Stallings, and shuffled out of the batter’s box to his right twice before dropping his bat as if he had tied the game at two runs apiece. Kettleers left fielder Keenan Innis sprinted to his right and made a sliding grab in foul territory that was well short of the wall, however.
After Becker surrendered just one hit in the sixth inning, Kinney retired the first eight batters he faced through the seventh, eight and ninth innings. With two outs in the ninth, he delivered to Falmouth’s Boomer White (Texas A&M), who hit a high fly into center field.
Haynie rose from his stance behind the plate and thrust his arm into the now densely fogged air, tracking the ball with his finger as he watched Kettleers centerfielder Gene Cone (South Carolina) secure the final out. Kinney stepped off the mound and hugged his catcher on the infield grass.
“Kinney threw really well for us,” Haynie said. “What he does from his arm slot is really special … It’s really fun to catch him.”
Cotuit (3-1) hosts Chatham (2-1) at Lowell Park at 5 p.m. on Saturday.