By Jon Mettus
July 8, 2015
ORLEANS — The Kettleers spent all day not knowing whether their game with the Orleans Firebirds was going to be rained out or not. The team bus arrived in Orleans, about a 45 minute trip from Lowell Park, less than an hour before game time.
And while the Firebirds appeared ready from the start, Cotuit had to settle into the game. Orleans (18-6) scored four runs in the first inning and 10 through the first four to defeat the Kettleers (9-16), 13-2, at Eldredge Park.
“I wish I knew,” head coach Mike Roberts said of whether or not the game was going to be played. “They held us. I don’t know … if being really really late getting here had anything to do with the way we played.
When Cotuit faced Orleans on June 27, the last-place Kettleers took down the first-place Firebirds and ended a seven-game losing streak in walk-off fashion. But on Wednesday, the Firebirds got their revenge.
“They’re a very good club, but we contributed heavily to their success tonight,” Roberts said.
Nick Eicholtz (Alabama) struck out the first batter he faced, but after three Roberts was already out to the mound to talk to him. A botched pickoff move scored a run and then Spencer Gaa (Bradley) just missed a ground ball on a diving attempt, letting another across the plate on the single.
Roberts threw his hands in the air and walked to the bottom of the dugout.
The Firebirds snagged four runs in the first and when Eicholtz plunked the first batter of the second, his day was done at 33 pitches.
“Pitchers set the tone of a ball game and Nick (Eicholtz) didn’t set a very good tone at all,” Roberts said.
Bernardo Flores (Southern California) came in and struck out his first batter, like Eicholtz did. But after Flores faced five batters, getting two outs, while conceding two runs, two hits and hitting a batter, Roberts was making another trek out of the dugout and to the mound.
When the Kettleers got their first base runner in the top of the fourth on a Brody Weiss (Riverside City College) walk, Orleans was ahead, 5-0. When Cotuit got its first hit on a Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) line drive into center in the fifth, the Firebirds had scored 10 unanswered runs.
“The thing about the three guys that pitched the first six innings is that none of those three have a secondary pitch that they can count on,” Roberts said.
Orleans starter, Eric Lauer struck out eight Cotuit batters before being removed after six innings. His only blemishes were one hit and one walk.
In the eighth, Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) hit a two-run home run over a blue porta-potty in left field, to the right of the Cotuit bullpen for Cotuit’s only runs. The Kettleers loaded the bases in the seventh and ninth innings, but couldn’t get anyone across.
“I don’t think he was doing anything different than all the left handers we’ve seen all year,” Roberts said. “We haven’t hit a left hander yet.”
The Kettleers (9-16) get a day off on Thursday before getting a shot to rebound against Bourne (11-12-2) on Friday at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park.