By Jon Mettus
June 09, 2015
HARWICH — Cotuit’s Kolin McMillen (Flagler College) toed his way off first base as Harwich pitcher Anthony Ciavarella (Monmouth) peered over at him from the mound. Ciavarella wound up and McMillen raced down the base path, sliding into second safely with a stolen base.
With each move McMillen made off second, Ciavarella took his eyes away from the plate and moved them to the runner, trying to keep McMillen from swiping another bag.
Preoccupied with McMillen, Ciavarella lofted a pitch down the middle for Will Haynie (Alabama) who sent a line drive over the “330” sign on the left field fence for a two-run, go-ahead homer.
“I think we did (get in the opposing pitchers’ heads) and I think it ended up showing toward the end,” McMillen said. “They kind of lost their cool and left a couple pitches over the plate, especially to Haynie. Haynie hit a missile and eventually that gave us the win, so it all comes down to the little things.”
Cotuit’s players swiped bags at will on Tuesday and gave the Mariners pitchers more to worry about than just the batters at the plate. The Kettleers finished with six stolen bases and scored on a wild pitch. The effective base running helped Cotuit (1-0) move runners into scoring position and defeat Harwich (0-1), 3-1, on the road at Whitehouse Field in front of a crowd of 743 in its first game of the 2015 season.
“This is may be the best we’ve run in the first game since I’ve been here in 12 years,” head coach Mike Roberts said. “It even surprised me a little bit.
In the top of the second, with Cotuit runners on the corners, Mariners starter Scott Tully threw a ball past catcher Ryan Lidge that rolled all the way to the backstop, allowing Kettleers left fielder Tanner Stanley (Richmond) to trot home easily and put Cotuit ahead 1-0.
In the fifth, Cotuit had runners on first and second before Michael Paez (Coastal Carolina) took off toward third so early that the Harwich catcher threw to second trying to get McMillen, who dove in safely and moved into scoring position.
“We took a lot of bags, which is going to help us win some games,” McMillen said, “so it’s exciting.”
When Harwich tried its hand at stealing a base, Kettleers starting pitcher Adam Winkelman (Southeast Missouri State) stepped off the mound, catching Mariners Drew Ellis in a pickle for the out.
But every time a Cotuit runner was on base — especially Paez — he was hopping back and forth attracting the attention of the Mariners pitcher and often stealing a base.
“That’s the point for me,” Paez said of getting into the opposing pitcher’s head. “Even if I don’t get the stolen base I know the pitcher’s thinking about me. He might leave something up for the next batter. Maybe get a good hit off him because he wasn’t focusing as well.”
Though not every stolen base and runner moved into scoring position or led to a run, Roberts was encouraged by his team’s baserunning ability in the opening game. It’s something he’ll rely on as the season progresses, he added.
“Our emphasis is we want to be able to run and put some pressure on and then we’ll see what happens with the bats,” Roberts said. “The bats aren’t necessarily there every day. We get a couple walks, an error, a hit batsman, we’ve got a chance to score.”
Cotuit (1-0) will host the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (1-0) in its home opener at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park on Wednesday.