By Jon Mettus
July 1, 2015
WAREHAM — Jon Woodcock’s (Virginia Tech) teammates were moving away from him in the dugout and not talking to him. Through five innings, Cotuit’s starter had struck out three batters and walked one. Most importantly, though, he hadn’t allowed a hit.
“I started kind of thinking about it more once I got to the fourth and the fifth,” Woodcock said after realizing what his teammates were doing.
After retiring the first two batters of the sixth, Woodcock delivered to Andrew Calica (UC Santa Barbara), who launched a line drive to right-center that landed in the soccer fields beyond the fence.
Woodcock walked around the mound expressionless, retucking his jersey into his pants.
“I just fell behind the hitter … threw a left on left changeup and just left it a little up and out over the plate,” Woodcock said. “(Catcher) Will Haynie actually wanted a fastball and I shook off to a changeup.”
That home run was the only hit or run Cotuit would surrender the entire game, but it proved to be the difference as the Kettleers (6-13) fell to the Wareham Gatemen (8-9), 1-0, at Spillane Field on Wednesday. Cotuit drew six walks, but managed only four hits and left 10 runners on base.
“About the only thing I’m not doing is crying,” head coach Mike Roberts said after the game. “… I’m losing patience offensively. Our pitching is just totally carrying us.
“It is kind of sad that you give up one hit and get beat.”
Woodcock was nearly perfect from the beginning. He faced no more than the minimum three batters through the first five innings, and his only blemish was a walk that was quickly erased by inducing a ground ball for a double play.
When Roberts handed the ball to Mitch Stallings (Duke) to start the seventh, he picked up where Woodcock left off. He faced six batters and retired them all in order, striking out one and inducing three ground balls in the eighth.
But the Kettleers couldn’t manufacture any runs in support.
Brett Stephens (UCLA) drew a walk and Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) hit a single into the left-center field gap to put runners on the corners in the eighth with one out.
Gene Cone came to the plate and showed bunt on the first pitch, but took it for a strike. He bunted the next one foul into his own leg. He tried to check his next swing as a breaking ball fell to the dirt, but he struck out swinging.
“When you struggle hitting you got to do something,” Roberts said of calling the bunt. “But Gene’s mindset wasn’t to get the job done.
“I want us to be tougher outs. And whether we’re swinging, bunting, whatever it may be, we’re just not a mentally tough, physically tough minded out.”
The next batter, Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) hit a fly ball deep to center field that had the center fielder running back. The crowd gasped as the center fielder slipped, falling to the ground, but he got up in time to make the catch.
Haynie (Alabama) struck out swinging to lead off the top of the ninth, but the ball rolled to the backstop and he was able to reach first safely. A Spencer Gaa (Bradley) bunt moved him to second and a Cole Fabio (Bryant) ground out to first moved him to third. Down by one run with two outs and a runner on third, Kort Peterson (UCLA) smacked a hard hit line drive right to the shortstop to end the game.
Prior to the loss, the Kettleers had won two straight games on the heels of a seven-game losing streak and stretch of 12 games in which the team lost 11 of them.
Cotuit will have a shot to get back in the win column when it heads to Falmouth on Friday to take on the Commodores (7-11).
“We’ve dug a really big hole,” Roberts said. “Whether or not we can climb out of it, I don’t know.”