By Jon Mettus
July 17, 2015
COTUIT — Ross Grosvenor (South Carolina) represented the tying run standing at the plate. Down by three with runners on second and third, he was the Kettleers’ last hope.
Saige Jenco (Virginia Tech), who Grosvenor pinch-hit for, stood at the top step of the dugout. The rest of the Cotuit players leaned over the fence in front of the dugout.
Ball one. Called strike. Ball two. Another called strike. With the count at 2-2, Grosvenor fouled two pitches off to the right side toward the away bleachers. Then he hit one off his foot or leg.
The crowd gasped each time the bat made contact with the ball, before letting out a sigh of relief after realizing it fell harmlessly in foul territory.
As a slow clap erupted from the Cotuit fans, Grosvenor whiffed on a pitch low and away, stepping over the plate while finishing his swing.
“We were just hoping for a double or a homer or something in the gap to score a couple runs and make it a closer game,” assistant coach Brian Scott said. “… We just thought at that point that Ross was the right call.”
After falling behind 3-0 early to Falmouth, Cotuit had its chances. The Kettleers put six runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, but the comeback attempt came up short as Cotuit (11-20) fell to Falmouth (13-18), 5-2, in front of a crowd of 1,640 at Lowell Park on Friday.
The Kettleers are now two games behind Falmouth for third place in the West and a game and a half back of Wareham (12-18-1) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.
“We all know time is running out here soon and we have to make the most out of this opportunity,” Kettleers first baseman Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) said.
Cotuit starter Jonathan King (Georgia Tech) hadn’t given up more than two runs in any of his previous, but after three innings the Commodores had tagged him with five hits and three runs, including a two-run blast by Tate Blackman (Mississippi) in the second.
Berry answered with a home run of his own to cut Falmouth’s lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third. Berry hit a towering fly ball that cleared the fence in left-center field and landed at the base of the flagpole.
“I knew (the pitcher) was going to come out and be aggressive so I wanted to do the same,” Berry said. “I got the pitch and I put a good swing on it. … I could have sworn it bounced because it seemed like the (fielder) was still running after it, but I looked up and sure enough it was out.”
The Commodores picked up a run off Kevin Ginkel (Nevada) and Mitch Stallings (Duke) in the eighth to stretch the lead to 5-1, but then the comeback attempts started.
Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts had gotten tossed in the eighth for arguing balls and strikes, reenergizing his teams.
Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) hit a line drive to left then stole second to start the home eighth before Jenco reached on an infield single. Brett Stephens (UCLA) drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.
Mike Paez lined one hard into left field for a single that scored Kendall. Assistant coach Trey McCall halted Jenco at third and nodded to Cole Fabio (Bryant) who was up next.
The Kettleers had all the momentum with the bases still loaded and nobody out. But then Fabio grounded a ball right to the pitcher. The pitcher threw home for the force play before the catcher got Fabio at first for the double play. Tim Susnara (Oregon) struck out to end the inning.
“(I’m) just happy that there was a comeback,” Scott said. “It wasn’t just rolling over and dying. We continue to fight … just kind of ran out of gas.”
When Berry hit a one-out single in the ninth past a diving second baseman and Will Haynie (Alabama) hit a fly ball deep into the right field corner for a double another rally was started. Berry stood on third and pointed to Haynie at second.
Kendall popped out on the first pitch he saw, however, and Grosvenor struck out to end the game.
The Kettleers will play Falmouth again on Saturday in a critical game at Arnie Allen Diamond at 6 p.m.
“We come here to win and when we’re not winning it’s not fun,” Berry said. “We just got to stay with it and keep chugging.”