By Dylan Wolter
June 27th, 2015
Nick Lewis (Baylor) came on in the fifth inning and pitched five solid innings for the victory against the Orleans Firebirds. Lewis is the first winning pitcher in seven games as the Cotuit Kettleers snapped their losing streak. It makes it all better that Lewis celebrated his 20th birthday on a day he led his team to victory.
Lewis showed a ton of poise on the mound, working quick and throwing strikes. He was able to get strikeouts and force groundballs in his five innings pitched. His line showed one earned run, four hits, one walk, and five strike outs. He tempered a dangerous Orleans lineup that was able to scratch one run with two outs in the ninth but the Kettleers overcame the run to get Lewis the win.
Manager Mike Roberts claims that Lewis made a major change in his delivery, a change that led to his best performance of the year. Roberts, who wanted to keep the adjustment a mystery, claimed that Lewis looked completely comfortable with it, more so than when he pitched a few days ago. Roberts, still reeling of his team’s victory mentioned, “I don’t know that Nick could look any better than he did today, against a really good lineup.”
The right hander from Baylor was satisfied with his performance, claiming, “My changeup was working really well for me. It had good depth and was able to keep them off balance. My low seam fastball was to keep them guessing a little bit.”
Lewis mentioned he feels really good about the tweak to his mechanics, claiming it helps his arm and provides more ease to his pitches. He certainly looked very comfortable on the mound and seemed to pound zone with his offerings. Lewis was thrilled to just get his team the victory and end the seven game losing streak.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit lately but that’s how baseball how goes,” said the birthday boy, Nick Lewis, “and I just went out and tried to give the team the best chance to win. It was good to get a win and break the streak.”
Defensive Subs- With a lead against Orleans on Saturday, Mike Roberts decided to substitute certain defenders to sharpen the defense and maintain the score. Will Haynie (Alabama) entered in the sixth inning behind the plate and Cole Fabio (Bryant) came in for Spencer Gaa (Bradley), at second base, in the eighth.
“We need to get better late in the game defensively,” mentioned Roberts, “I think you’re going to see me do more defensive changes and go to the stronger club late in the game.”
Haynie has proved his defensive prowess throughout the season, showing his ability to gun runners attempting to steal. Spencer Gaa, who is used to playing third base, has filled in at second base recently in Robert’s new defensive alignment. Gaa nearly botched an easy ground ball in the seventh inning that would have scored the tying run for Orleans, but recovered and threw on to first in time to save the lead. Fabio has more experience at second base and looks to cover a lot of ground.
Bullpen Forming Identity- On Friday Mike Roberts reported that Justin Dunn (Boston College) would be this teams closer and would almost always take the mound in the ninth inning when Cotuit owns a lead. However, yesterday, with a 4-3 lead, Nick Lewis stayed in the game to close out the ninth. The reasoning was due to Dunn not being ready to pitch, still stiff from pitching the other day.
“Justin kept himself off the board,” remarked Roberts, referencing the lineup and potential pitchers for the game, “he would have gotten tonight if his arm was ready.” Roberts lets anyone take themselves on or off the board, not wanting to push anyone too hard in the summertime. He respects players understanding their bodies and their limitations.
Dunn is still healthy and will still be the team’s closer for the foreseeable future. Two games in a row, fans have seen strong long relief efforts as well in Mitch Stallings (Duke) and Nick Lewis. Both replaced the starters in their respective games and pitched effectively for more than three innings. Both those guys seem to have the ability to pitch for longer while arms like Kevin Ginkel (Nevada) and Jack Anderson (Penn State) have been pitching later in the game and usually only in one inning. The coaches seem to be identifying roles in the bullpen, a major plus for the rest of the season.