By Dylan Wolter
July 6, 2015
BOURNE – A day after the Kettleers (8-15) committed four errors and had Manager Mike Roberts scratching his head in disbelief, Cotuit shook up the defense by placing Tim Susnara (Oregon) at third base. Susnara is a natural backstop. He plays that position in college, and fans have only seen him behind the dish for Cotuit. Manager Mike Roberts decided to make adjustments and put Susnara at the hot corner, a position he actually played in high school.
“I didn’t even ask him (Susnara) if he’d ever play third base in his life,” claimed Roberts fresh off their comeback 4-3 victory over the Bourne Braves. “He made a couple nice plays that really picked us up.”
It wasn’t totally easy for Susnara at third base, as he was tested early and often. He seemed pretty comfortable at the position early, making a nice snag in the second inning and throwing in plenty of time to get the out at first. Two hitters later, a grounder came up on the Oregon product and hit him in the chest. He did a nice job of getting in front of it but was unable to get the out at first, the play going down as an error.
He made up for the play though in third inning. The leadoff hitter hit a hard ground ball close to the third base bag. Susnara slid to his right, backhanding the baseball, got up, and fired a bullet to third base just in time to get the out. It was an impressive play that showcased Susnara’s dynamic ability to play more than one position.
Coach Roberts thought the mentality Susnara brought to the hot corner was pivotal for the team’s chances against Bourne. “I just thought he lifted us a little bit,” mentioned Roberts, “he gave us a catcher’s mentality. I thought we needed that.”
It will be interesting to see if Susnara gets more opportunities at third base. A lack of depth in the infield could force Susnara to get more time at the position. He admitted he brought his catcher’s mindset with him to third base.
“Once I take ground balls, it’s just getting a feel for it and getting back to how I used to play,” remarked Susnara, pleased with his performance at third, “It’s different than playing behind the plate but that one error where I bodied it up, it’s just the catcher inside of me just getting in front of it and making sure the run doesn’t score.”
Regardless of the error Susnara committed, he played a solid third base as well as giving his team a mental edge in the field. He brought with him an intensity and mindset that gave the defense something it has lacked this season. The more he plays third, the better he should get, making the Kettleers a far more dangerous defensive club.
Dunn Deal – The back end of the bullpen was impressive yet again for the Kettleers. Jack Anderson (Penn State) pitched a really strong three innings for Cotuit while Justin Dunn (Boston College) closed out the game.
Anderson has become one of the most reliable arms for the Kettleers, pitching 3.1 innings on Monday, the most he has thrown all year. He gave up one hit and struck out one, lowering his ERA to an incredible 0.90, while earning the win against Bourne.
“The key to the ball game, very honestly, was Jack Anderson,” said Roberts who loves the righty submariner. “He did a marvelous job in the middle. I brought him in earlier than I normally would but they had seven right handed hitters and I thought that it was the best night to do that.”
Justin Dunn was tabbed the teams closer over a week ago by Roberts, but fans have not yet seen him in the ninth inning due to a lack of save opportunities as well as an minor injury. Against the Braves, we finally got to see what makes Dunn so effective in the closer’s role.
He threw an easy inning and kept his pitch count low, holding the lead at 4-3. Roberts expressed his confidence in Dunn, mentioning, “he’s going to be our closer. When we get there, it’s his. He’s going to get the ball in the ninth no matter what happens. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
It’s simply a matter of the Kettleers getting to the ninth inning with a lead in order for Dunn to close out the game. The Golden Eagle has familiarity closing out ball games in college and is the most experienced out of the entire bullpen. Closing is something that Dunn really relishes and thrives in. “I love closing. There’s nothing better than knowing you can come in and lock the door down. I love having the game on my shoulders.”
Justin Dunn, who earned the save against Bourne, certainly has the mentality of a closer, and it will be fun to watch him close out games for the Kettleers. There is little doubt that he will be on the mound with any type of lead in the ninth inning. His electric fastball and reliable off speed pitches make him a dangerous weapon to shut the door.