By Jon Mettus
July 28, 2015
COTUIT — Will Haynie (Alabama) watched a curveball fall in for called strike and then fouled the next one off. The 0-2 pitch was yet another curveball and he poked it the other direction past a diving second baseman who was playing in.
Spencer Gaa (Bradley) scored from third and Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) reached home all the way from second. Head coach Mike Roberts, standing next to third base, turned toward the dugout and pumped his fist in celebration.
“I knew he was going to try to pitch around me with a base open,” Haynie said. “So I was just thinking, see it deep and try to take something to the opposite field and it worked out for me. I got a big hit.”
Haynie’s two-run single capped a four-run sixth inning for Cotuit that led the Kettleers (16-23) over the Commodores (13-25-1), 6-1, in a pivotal matchup at Lowell Park on Tuesday. Cotuit got off to a shaky start, but recovered and is now two and a half games ahead of Falmouth in the West and tied with Wareham for third place.
For the first time all year, Cotuit has won three games in a row.
“I feel like in the past week the guys have really come together,” Haynie said. “You can really see us bonding and as you can see, we’ve won three straight so it’s big going into the playoffs and especially tonight getting a big win over our division rivals.”
Matt Milburn (Wofford) struggled initially. After a leadoff double, he and Haynie had a brief chat. And after a one-out run-scoring single, Roberts made his way to the mound. When the next batter hit a single to put runners on second and first, Nick Lewis (Baylor) started to warm-up in the bullpen already.
Milburn rebounded, though, getting the next two batters to strike out and groundout, respectively. After giving up three hits and a run in the first, he conceded just two hits and no runs through the next four innings.
“I thought Matt did a really good job of adjusting after the first inning,” Roberts said. “His changeup was up to left-handed hitters so he made a little adjustment and I thought he finessed it for five innings.”
In the fifth inning, Gaa beat out an infield single before Kendall singled to right to put runners on the corners. Haynie grounded to third and Falmouth tried to turn two. Kendall slid into second base, causing the second baseman to rush the throw to first. The throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and Haynie was safe, scoring Gaa from third.
An inning later, the Kettleers broke the game wide open. Michael Cantu (Texas) doubled down the left field line and Cole Fabio (Bryant) bunted for a single. Gaa hit a grounder past the shortstop, scoring Saige Jenco (Virginia Tech), who was pinch running for Cantu. Roberts clapped his hands at third base.
“I’m really pleased with the way our offense has come on,” Roberts said.
Kendall followed with a fly ball deep into the right field corner that fell in for an RBI double, giving Cotuit the lead and moving Gaa to third. Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) came out of the dugout and pointed in the air toward Kendall.
Falmouth tried bringing in a new pitcher, substituting Austin Tribby (Missouri) for Jack Finnegan (McLennan Community College), but Haynie hit his two-run single. By the end of the inning, the damage was four runs and Cotuit held a 5-1 lead.
After getting warmed up in the first inning, Lewis went back to the bench until the sixth inning. Mitch Stallings (Duke) gave up a single to the only batter he faced and then Lewis came in.
“I wasn’t gassed, but it took a little out (of me),” Lewis said of warming up so early. “I sprinted down and got hot.”
Lewis retired each of the next 12 batters, spanning the final four innings to earn the win. He struck out and didn’t so much as give up a walk or a hit. Berry knocked in a run in the eighth to make it 6-1, Kettleers, and Cotuit cruised the rest of the way with Lewis on the mound.
“That was nice to finish out the game and get a win at the same time,” Lewis said.
The Kettleers (16-23) will travel to Hyannis to play the Harbor Hawks on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at McKeon Park.