By Jon Mettus
July 3, 2015
FALMOUTH — Jonathan King (Georgia Tech) looked in at Tate Blackman, Falmouth’s first hitter, and delivered a breaking ball that made Blackman whiff.
“Nice,” yelled the Cotuit dugout as catcher Tim Susnara blocked the ball and threw to first for the out.
For King, that first strike out was just the beginning. He struck out five of the first nine batters he faced and got out to a hot start against the Commodores. He lasted five innings and gave up just one run on four hits while striking out six.
Cotuit (7-13) backed King up with plenty of runs in support, winning 8-1 in front of nearly 2,000 fans at Arnie Allen Diamond on Friday, and King picked his first win of the season.
“I thought it was very good,” head coach Mike Roberts said of King’s performance. “I thought it was a very mature pitcher. I think he threw four breaking balls and that’s what we want him to do. We want him to push-pull.”
He wasn’t surprised by King’s increased number in strikeouts because of adjustments King has been making in practice, Roberts added. “He took it from the bullpen to the game.”
A fly ball to left and a soft liner to short finished off the first inning in order for King. He and Susnara fist bumped going back to the dugout.
King threw a fastball past Heath Quinn (Samford) to start the second. As Susnara fired to third to throw the ball around the infield, King walked around the outer part of the mound.
The next batter watched a 2-2 fastball at the knees go by for a called third strike. King tugged at his jersey and toed the dirt in front of the rubber on the mound before getting back to work.
“Once we got ahead with the fastball they started expanding the zone and chasing the changeup, changing the fastball away,” King said.
After two more strikeouts in the third, assistant coach Trey McCall came out of the dugout to congratulate King at the end of the inning.
By the end of the fourth, King had retired the side in order in three of the innings.
“(Susnara) calls a great game,” King said. “I don’t think I shook off but maybe once the whole game. We’ve got a pretty good feel for what we we’re trying to do.”
The lefty’s only run allowed came in the fifth. He got the first two outs quickly before Tristan Gray (Rice) lined into right for a single. Shane Benes followed with a chopper to third that nearly bounced over Brody Weiss’ (Riverside City College) head. Weiss jumped and knocked the ball down, but the runners were safe at second and first.
Caleb Hamilton (Oregon State) drove in the run with a single.
King was planning to return to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, staying loose by throwing to Gene Cone (South Carolina) near third base in foul territory while the Kettleers were hitting. But as Cone squatted into a catcher’s stance for King, Cotuit was pounding runs across the plate.
When the inning was over the Kettleers led 6-1 and Roberts decided King’s day was done. His pitch count was at 71 and Roberts didn’t want to push it with a decent lead, he said.
“King was awesome,” Susnara said. “I think the last three starts I’ve caught him, he’s able to locate throw everything for strikes and you know it makes my life a lot easier catching that.”
The Kettleers (7-13) play Falmouth (7-13) again on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park. There will be a hitting contest, dunk tank and other activities at Lowell Park following the Cotuit parade.