By Jon Mettus
June 18, 2015
FALMOUTH — As Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) walked toward the plate for his final at-bat of the game in the top of the ninth inning, someone yelled, “Hey, Berry. Have a year. Have a year.”
The Cotuit first baseman already “had a hit” when prompted to by someone in the crowd earlier in the game and “have a day” somehow seemed to understate the performance that Berry was putting on.
He was just a triple away from the cycle and had already driven in four runs. His second home run in two days was the spark that lit the fire under the Kettleers offense.
Berry ultimately struck out, but it hardly mattered. Cotuit (12-20) rolled over Falmouth (13-19), 8-2, at Arnie Allen Diamond on Saturday thanks to Berry’s season-best 3-for-4 offensive outing in which he drove in a season-high four runs, scored twice and drew a walk.
“Minus that last (at-bat) I was pretty good,” Berry said. “I felt pretty locked in.”
Cotuit is now one game behind Falmouth for fourth place in the West and one game and a half behind Wareham for third place.
“It was a pretty important (game),” head coach Mike Roberts said.
The game was quiet until Brett Stephens (UCLA) reached first on a two-out broken bat single in the third that sent Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) to third.
Berry was up next and launched a fly ball over the Cape Cod Healthcare sign in left field.
“He hung a changeup low and in,” Berry said. “I was able to throw my hands and get a good swing on it.”
The Cotuit fans rose to their feet as Berry rounded the bases, shaking Roberts’ hand as he passed third. With one swing of the bat, Berry matched the Kettleers highest run total from any of the last five games.
He was just getting started.
When Berry came to the plate again, Stephens — who finished 4-for-5 on the day with two runs and two RBI — was standing on second base after a two-out line down the line rolled out of play for a ground rule double.
Berry smacked another fly ball, this one to right-center field that one hopped to the fence. He ran in to second for back-to-back doubles for the Kettleers, stretching the lead to 4-0.
Berry stood on second, clapping, yelling, “Let’s go, Spence,” to Spencer Gaa (Bradley) who was up next. Gaa sent line drive single to right field. Berry rounded third and ran home, clapping his hands together once before crossing the plate.
“It’s nice to see two-out base hits,” Roberts said. “… We have not done that the whole year. Am I happy for them? I’m really happy for them. It gave us a chance to relax a little bit.”
By the time the eighth inning came around, Cotuit was ahead 5-1. Cole Fabio (Bryant) raced home on a wild pitch to make it 6-1. It was the first run for the Kettleers that Berry wasn’t a part of.
Then in the ninth, back-to-back-to-back singles from Kendall, Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) and Stephens added two more runs and put the game comfortably out of reach.
“It’s fun,” Berry said. “I enjoy winning a lot.”
The Kettleers return to action on Sunday against Wareham (13-18-1) at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park in a critical game to keep their playoff hopes alive.