By Jon Mettus
July 21, 2015
COTUIT — Spencer Gaa (Bradley) swung and missed on a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brody Weiss (Riverside City College) raced home from third after the ball tipped off the catcher’s glove and flew to the backstop. But as he was most of the way there, home plate umpire Tom Magier threw his hands in the air to signal a dead ball.
Kettleers head coach Mike Roberts walked over from third base for an explanation. Magier said Gaa hit the catcher with his back swing and because of the interference the play stopped and the run didn’t count. Roberts thought that the interference had no effect on the catcher’s ability to catch the ball and the run should count.
Roberts and Kettleers’ dugout pleaded with Magier to consult with the other umpires, but he refused.
“I think it’s always better if you get three minds together than one,” Roberts said. “I don’t think he was definitely sure.
“I’ve seen that happen, having been a catcher, but I’m not sure on that particular situation that everything stops and that’s what I was asking. He says it does and I said OK, alright then let’s just protest it and we’ll kind of see.”
Magier turned around to the press box and shouted, “The game is being played under protest …”
The protest will go to Cape Cod Baseball League commissioner Paul Galop, Roberts said, and he will rule one way or the other based on the rulebook. If the Kettleers win the protest, the game will be restart from the point of protest, Roberts added.
STALLINGS, FLORES COMBINE FOR 7 1/3 SCORELESS INNINGS
Chatham’s hitters were getting the best of Kettleers starter Matt Milburn (Wofford). Six runs had scored and Mike Roberts had retreated to a corner of the dugout, sending Bernardo Flores (USC) to go warm-up in the bullpen.
It was just the second inning.
Roberts emerged, taking a spot on the top step, only when Flores was ready in the bullpen. After the completion of the at-bat and another run scored, Roberts walked toward the mound, shouted, “left hander” and spit once in the grass.
Despite going to its bullpen in just the second inning, Cotuit only had to use two relievers the entire game. Flores and Mitch Stallings (Duke) combined for 7 1/3 scoreless innings to close out the game.
Flores pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking out two batters and giving up three hits. Stallings struck out four batters and conceded only two hits in four innings of work.
“I think it was huge,” Roberts said. “I think Bernardo and Mitch really picked the team up and picked Matt up and they threw the ball well.
“Both of them needed innings so I think it worked out well for them and I think it worked out well for the club.”
Flores entered with two runners on and two outs, but walked the first batter to load the bases. He recovered, however, striking out Zack Short (Sacred Heart) on a 74 mph curveball.
As Flores jogged back to the dugout the crowd erupted with its loudest cheers of the game.
“His rhythm was better,” Roberts said. “We’ve been working in the bullpen on quickening everything up so everybody doesn’t fall asleep behind him. We just have to get him more confidence in his breaking ball so he can use that.”
Flores came back out for the third and went to work. He walked a batter, but then struck out the next on another curve ball. He wiped the sweat off his face and induced a two-out ground ball to second to finish the inning.
With two men on in the fourth, he induced another inning-ending ground ball.
Flores’ usage has been limited this summer. He hadn’t pitched since July 8 and had given up three runs in less than two innings in two of his five previous outings.
“A couple of rough outings the last couple times out there,” Flores said. “I thought today was a great step in the right direction,” adding that it was his best outing of the year “by far.”
When the sixth inning came around, it was Stallings’ turn. The first six batters he faced went down with hardly a fight.
When runners made it to second and third in the eighth, Stallings delivered a three pitch inning-ending strikeout. He finished off the ninth inning in order.
“I felt like I was controlling my stuff, throwing strikes and everything,” Stallings said. “I felt like I could attack hitters and work both sides of the zone.”