By Jon Mettus
July 14, 2015
After Tuesday’s game, head coach Mike Roberts had one thing to say: “I’m thankful.”
Thankful his team was able to get the win.
The Kettleers committed five errors compared to just six hits. Bourne loaded the bases during its comeback attempt in the top of the ninth, aided by two of the errors.
But ultimately Cotuit’s three runs, manufactured primarily with small ball, were enough to defeat the Braves (12-15-2), 3-1, at Lowell Park on Tuesday during Retro Night. Three Cotuit pitchers combined for nine innings and just one unearned run as the Kettleers (11-18) moved to a game back of Falmouth (12-17) for fourth place in the West.
“That’s baseball,” Cotuit center fielder Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) said. “Things happen weird in this game. We just stayed in it, stayed all the way until the ninth inning, and got it done.”
Through the first three innings, Cotuit starter Matt Milburn (Wofford) had given up just two hits — managing two one-two-three innings — and neither team had gotten on the board.
Brett Stephens (UCLA) grounded up the middle for a single to start the home half of the fourth. Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) followed with a slow grounder that tipped off the edge of his bat and rolled to the first base side. The first baseman dove for it, but missed and Paez reached first safely on the infield single.
Tim Susnara (Oregon) moved the runners over with a bunt, earning a clap from Roberts, and Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) grounded out to short to score Stephens.
Kendall emerged from the dugout to high five Stephens and Berry.
“It worked really well,” Roberts said referring to small ball. “We got a couple bunts down, got people over, scored a run … I think it made a big difference in the ball game.”
An inning later, Kendall hit a rocket out to right field. The fielder leaped to catch the ball right next to the foul pole, but as his body hit off the fence the ball was flung into the middle of right field. As Kendall raced around the base paths, continuing past third, his helmet rose up on his head, nearly coming off. He looked up to see the throw home from the outfield and crossed the plate with a standup inside-the-park home run, even though Jack Klein (Stanford) was waving his arms down to slide.
“I’ve never seen one here in my 12 years here,” Roberts said. “I honestly thought it was a home run without having him run. I thought the ball hit the glove, went off the foul pole and then ricocheted at an angle back toward center field.”
Milburn’s one blemish came in the sixth after allowing a leadoff single. His pickoff attempt to first flew wide of Berry and into foul territory. Camden Duzenack (Dallas Baptist) made it all the way to third on the play and scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
The Kettleers went back to small ball in the eighth to add an insurance run. Cole Fabio (Bryant) hit a ground ball through the third baseman’s legs for a double then Kendall bunted him over to third. Klein swung and missed on a pitch before Roberts called time to talk to him.
Klein bunted down the first base line and Fabio raced home. The glove flip by the pitcher to the plate wasn’t in time and Klein boosted the lead to 3-1.
“When we get guys to third base we’re going to find a way to get them in,” Roberts said.
In the top of the ninth, Anderson got the first out before an error by Susnara at third allowed a runner to reach first. Dunn entered to close out the game, but after striking out the first batter he faced, Dunn walked the next and Fabio botched a grounder to second to load the bases.
With the winning run at first, Dunn induced a fly ball to right to end the game.
“Justin does a great job and we’re happy he’s our closer,” Roberts said.
The Kettleers will travel to Brewster (15-14) to face the Whitecaps on Wednesday at 5 p.m.