By Dylan Wolter
July 19, 2015
COTUIT – The Cotuit Kettleers (13-20) showed as much fight as they have all season, clawing their way to victory against the Wareham Gatemen. The Kettleers finished the crucial weekend with a win and are now just 0.5 games behind the Gatemen for fourth place. More importantly for Cotuit, the offense has come alive, scoring 13 runs in its last two games. On a team that has been carried by its pitching, offensive improvements are essential in the final stretch run.
It’s been a struggle to score runs all year for the Kettleers but a quick 3-0 deficit didn’t feel quite as dooming as it should have. “It’s early in the game and we played well last night, so I felt there was a little different confidence level on the offensive side,” remarked the head coach, Mike Roberts. Cotuit has recently been playing with a level of confidence that has yet to be seen this summer, providing the team with big hits and solid pitching. They showed much more fight than the Gatemen, simply wanting it more by the game’s end.
Daniel Brown (Mississippi State) started the game against Wareham, but got off to a rocky start. The Gatemen took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after an RBI single up the middle from Mark Karaviotis (Oregon). In the fourth inning, Andrew Calica (UCSB) scored two on a looping single to right field. Spencer Gaa (Bradley) fumbled the ball in right field, allowing both runners to score with ease for a 3-0 lead. Brown didn’t seem to be quite as sharp as he was earlier in the season but didn’t let the game get too far away from.
The Kettleers started their scoring in the bottom of the inning. Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) led the inning off with a rope single over the second baseman’s head. On a hit and run play, Brett Stephens (UCLA) hit a grounder right where the shortstop was playing before he went to cover second base. The race was on for Kendall, scoring all the way from first base on the play. His helmet came flying off as he approached home, making the score 3-1.
Kendall’s speed is stunning. He flies through the bases and uses his legs to get to any ball in centerfield. It is easy to see why the team couldn’t wait to bring the toolsy outfielder as he has provided the Kettleers with offense, defense, and speed.
The Kettleers tied the score in the 5th inning. Following good at bats from Will Haynie (Alabama) and the newly acquired Nkosi Djeguti-Mes (Southern University), walks set them up at first and second. Jeren Kendall came up with two outs and hit a sharp liner down the first base line that hit the front of the bag, hopping over the first baseman’s head. The ball trickled to the outfield which allowed both runners to score and landed Kendall at third base with a triple.
The two out hit was one of the biggest of the season, tying the game and putting the Kettleers in a position to win. Kendall carried the team early on and was just looking for a pitch to hit, claiming, “He was throwing me changeups and got down 3-1. He came inside with a fastball, something I was looking for, and I turned on the ball.
Then in the sixth inning, fans fittingly witnessed traditional “Kettleers Baseball” to take the lead. Brett Stephens led the inning off with a walk but Branded Berry failed to move him in scoring position, popping a bunt up to first base. Mike Roberts was visibly upset after the attempt, putting his face in his hands at third base. Fortunately a wild pitch moved Stephens to second base and the Kettleers tried their luck at another bunt. Spencer Gaa laid down a perfect bunt that he beat out at first base, putting runners on the corners. Tim Susnara then pushed a drag bunt past the pitcher on a suicide squeeze that gave the Kettleers a 4-3 lead. Small ball and smart base running is what allowed the Kettleers to score in that fourth inning.
Duncan Robinson (Dartmouth), Kevin Ginkel (Nevada), and Justin Dunn (Boston College) pitched well enough in relief to maintain the lead for the Kettleers. An insurance run in the fifth on an RBI single from Jack Klein gave Cotuit a 5-3 lead before the game was called due to darkness in the bottom of the eighth. The Kettleers went two of three in the team’s critical weekend and are now just a half game out from the final playoff spot with plenty of baseball left to be played.
“The biggest thing is people remember how you finish and not how you start,” said Roberts on his team’s performance over the weekend, “if we’re getting better then we should play better toward the end of the season.”
The Kettleers will have the off day on Monday before hosting the Chatham Anglers on Tuesday night at Lowell Park, 5:00 pm.