By Dylan Wolter
July 1, 2015
WAREHAM – In the top of the first inning of the July 1st game against the Wareham Gateman, the number three hitter laced an absolute bullet to the right center field gap. In what seemed to be an easy extra base hit in the gap, Jack Klein (Stanford) came racing over to make an unbelievable, full extension, diving catch in right center. The audience erupted in disbelief that Klein was even able to track the ball.
Spectacular catches from Klein has signaled a common theme for the Kettleers lately, the defense becoming the team’s biggest strength this season. Cotuit struggled early on defensively, not looking comfortable in the field, but a recent change has made defense a key ingredient to Kettleers winning baseball games.
Roberts talked after the game about the turnaround in the team’s defensive efforts. “Concentration to play better,” says Roberts, “the game is always pitching and defense first.”
Roberts exclaimed that he has asked Michael Paez (Coastal Carolina) to take charge of the defense and be a leader at short stop. He covers a ton of ground and is aggressive with most ground balls. The rest of the infield has come into their own too. Roberts mentioned Brody Weiss (Riverside JC) at third, Cole Fabio (Bryant) at second, and Branden Berry (Cal St. Northridge) at first base, as all playing good defense.
The Outfield has been extremely efficient as well, particularly Jack Klein. He seems to make a play that leaves fans with a dropped jaw almost nightly. “I’m not blessed with the blazing speed so I just try to track down every ball I can,” exclaimed Klein. When he makes catches like he did in the first inning, it sets the tone for the defense and puts the entire field’s mindset at a higher level.
The team has not recorded an error in five games; a pretty remarkable feat considering the defense struggled mightily in the beginning of the season. Finding the right players for the right position has been key for the Kettleers along with confidence to make plays and get outs.
Hit Steak- Jackson Klein doesn’t only impress with his glove, but he has also been one of the most consistent bats for the Kettleers. He now owns a seven game hitting streak and has implanted himself at the top of the Cotuit lineup.
The young Stanford outfielder has a knack for hitting the ball where the fielders aren’t. He owns a compact swing that allows him to make hard compact and hit the ball to all fields. So far on the season, Klein is leading the team with a .378 batting average, with a home run, and seven RBI’s.
“I feel good, I feel really good.” Exclaimed Klein when talking about his offense, “Just keeping it simple is the biggest thing for me out here and not getting discouraged with outs because the pitching’s good, we’re facing good arms every night.”
Klein has adapted well to Cape Cod League pitching, despite the talented young arms that take the mound every game. Coach Roberts is certainly a fan of his passion for baseball, claiming, “Jack really loves the game and he works at it, he really works at it.”
Walks Galore- The Kettleers worked seven walks against the Wareham Gateman on Wednesday evening. Although they are usually an aggressively swinging team, against the Gateman, the Kettleers were patient and finding efficient ways to get on base.
Michael Paez, an on base machine, has an astonishing 15 walks this year. The next highest total is six from Gene Cone (South Carolina). Cotuit could certainly use more patient at bats to get runners on base.
Base on Balls may set up the bases nicely but the problem comes when the bats are unable to bring runners home. The Kettleers failed to obtain key hits on Friday, never scoring a run, despite the frequency of base runners.
“I rather have seven base hits,” mentioned a sarcastic Roberts, “but someone, somewhere along the line should dump a base hit.” Sounds like the next step for the Kettleers this season is to get the offense to bring in the base runners with important hits.