By Dylan Wolter
July 28, 2015
COTUIT – The Cotuit Kettleers (16-23), on the heels of a three game win streak, have been playing some of the most confident baseball that fans have seen all season. The Kettleers haven’t won three games in a row all season, but picked a perfect point in the season to go on a roll. Now 2.5 games up from the last place team, Cotuit is in great position for a playoff spot.
The pitching has excelled all season. Head Coach Mike Roberts has even gone so far as to say that he’s had some of the best pitching that he’s ever coached in the Cape League. The offense is now taking a step up and is looking far more cohesive than we saw at the beginning of the year.
A big part of the Kettleers success recently has been catcher Will Haynie (Alabama). Haynie has at least one RBI in his last six games and is 10 for his last 24. Haynie has supplied Cotuit with big RBI hits that make a difference in close ballgames. The towering catcher certainly believes his team is playing with more confidence.
“Yeah definitely, you can see it in everybody,” claimed Haynie after collecting another two hits, “me personally as well, just being able to get the big hit in the situation. Everyone rallies off stuff like that so it’s definitely big.”
A usual very outgoing head coach, Roberts has been smiling more often lately. He acknowledged that his team is making huge strides in their game, especially with the bats and in the field. He noted a resiliency in his ballclub, something he compared to his 2008 team in which they won ten of their last eleven games.
“It’s just really important that guys continue to play to the last pitch, whenever that may be,” remarked a proud Roberts. When asked if he thinks his team is playing with a higher level of confidence, Roberts simply responded with a laugh, mentioning, “They probably are just getting used to me.”
Roberts quickly turned to say that his team is clearly playing with more confidence. He believes that each player is getting better and in turn making the team collectively play more confidently. “I don’t predict the future,” said Roberts, “but I really appreciate the guys sticking in and playing the game the right way”
Robert’s Short Leash – One quote us writers have gotten used to from Head Coach Mike Roberts is simply, “I go with my gut.” It’s been a common phrase to explain the many moves of Roberts, some met with success while others don’t go to plan. On Tuesday, the head coach made a couple interesting moves that had many scratching their heads.
The first move came in the sixth inning. Mitch Stallings (Duke) came on in relief for Matthew Millburn (Wofford) but didn’t last very long. In fact, Stallings pitched to just one batter before being replaced by Nick Lewis (Baylor). Stallings gave up a single that broke the defensive shift of the Kettleers. Roberts felt that with two righties coming to the plate, it was the right move bringing Lewis in, but a typical answer explained his reasoning.
“My gut doesn’t explain, my gut just does it,” explained the backyard coach, “I just do what my gut says, I don’t second guess it so I can sleep at night.”
Nick Lewis shined for the Kettleers, finishing the rest of the game without allowing a base runner. He pitched four innings, without a hit or walk and struck out three. It goes to show that sometimes, Robert’s gut will steer him in the right direction.
The second move was in the bottom of the inning, with runners on the corners and no one out. Brody Weiss (Riverside JC) was the hitter, taking the first pitch for a strike. After that first pitch, Roberts decided to bring on a pinch hitter. Nkosi Djehuti-Mes (Southern University) came on to spell Weiss, but the moved didn’t work as well as the former. Djehuti-Mes struck out and failed to bring in the runner from third.
Roberts claimed that the move had nothing to do with a lack of faith in Weiss, but knows that he has struggled against that pitcher. “I think it’s the situation that dictates what you do,” said Roberts, “Brody has had trouble with certain types of pitchers this summer and he had trouble early in the game with that pitcher. So I’m saying let’s make a change and something might happen.”
Asked whether Weiss will be back in the lineup tomorrow, Roberts said that he absolutely would be. A combination of Mike Robert’s intuition along with situational baseball led the Kettleers to their third straight win. Hopefully Robert’s gut continues to make the right calls with little under a week to go in the regular season.