By Jon Mettus
July 4, 2015
COTUIT — “Let’s go, this is our inning,” a Kettleers fan yelled as Jack Klein (Stanford) stepped to the plate. He singled up the middle. As Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) hit a line drive into left field, someone nearby set off a firework.
But then Paez was thrown out at trying to stretch his single to a double, and Matt Albanese (Bryant) grounded out to the shortstop, though Klein did score on the play.
“Hit it out of here. Let’s go, over the tree,” the same fan yelled before Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) grounded out to third.
What briefly looked like a comeback attempt, fizzled out into a one-run inning that ended up being Cotuit’s only offense the whole day. Again, the Kettleers’ bats struggled to come alive and four early Falmouth (8-13) runs, made possible by defensive mistakes, were enough to defeat Cotuit (7-14), 4-1, at Lowell Park in front of 2,015 fans on Saturday.
The Kettleers could have moved in to fourth place in the West Division with a win, but now sit alone in last place in the division.
“I thought 4-1 was actually a really good score considering the mistakes that we made,” head coach Mike Roberts said.
Cotuit had a chance to take the lead in the second with runners on the corners, but Will Haynie (Alabama) struck out to end the inning.
When the Commodores put men in scoring position, they took advantage, however. In the third, back-to-back singles — one that stopped in the infield grass and another that went barely by Spencer Gaa (Bradley) at second — put two men on to start things off.
A ground ball up the middle that tipped off of Cotuit pitcher Austin Sexton’s (Mississippi State) glove continued into center field and plated the pair of runners.
“A couple of balls were considered hits, a couple errors, but we didn’t handle the ball well,” Roberts said.
In the fourth, Paez made a diving play at short to snag a grounder, drawing cheers from the home crowd. He fired to second for a force out while falling down, but Gaa didn’t seem to be ready and the ball hit off the inside of his wrist on his glove hand and rolled into right field.
The cheers turned to groans as the runners moved to second and third. Roberts stood with his hands on his hips.
When the next batter, Logan Ice (Oregon State), hit a two-RBI line drive into right-center, Roberts shrugged his shoulders.
The Kettleers couldn’t find an answer. They fell victim to four three-batter innings on the day and struck out eight times.
“We did not hit left-handed pitching very well,” Roberts said. “That is really our challenge. We’ve really got to learn to hit left-handed pitching.”
The players lacks bat speed and aren’t able to throw their hands effectively during their swings, Roberts said. The result is a lot of lazy fly balls, he added.
Roberts’ starting lineup consisted of seven right-handed batters and two lefties. Though he loves the players he has, Roberts would prefer mostly left-handed batters, he said, because it limits the pitches a left-hander can throw.
“That should be our advantage I feel like because we don’t have to worry about (a pitch) coming into us,” Klein said of having mostly righties and facing a lefty. “… We’re just not seeing it well as a team right now.”
The Kettleers travel to Hyannis to take on the Harbor Hawks (13-9) at 6 p.m. on Sunday.