By Jon Mettus
August 1, 2015
COTUIT — All Mike Roberts could do was smile.
Tim Susnara (Oregon) drove a line drive into the right-center field gap with the bases loaded and three runners ran across the plate.
Roberts, standing at third, turned around to Will Haynie (Alabama), who was in the dugout after scoring from third, and let out a laugh before saying a few words to him. As Roberts turned back toward the field, his lips separated and a large grin spread across his face.
“Will and I had talked at third base that it’s time for something good to happen to Timmy,” Roberts said. “… He really deserved to hit that ball in the gap with the bases loaded. I was thrilled for him because when guys work that hard you want to see them have positive results.”
The Kettleers offense exploded on Saturday for 11 runs on 14 hits. Seven different players crossed the plate, five different guys drove in runs and everyone in the lineup finished with a hit except Haynie.
Cotuit (17-26) blew out the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (22-21), 11-0, at Lowell Park on Saturday to continue its late season push for a playoff spot. Susnara was a key facilitator in the offense, driving in five runs and scoring twice.
The Kettleers are a half game ahead of the Falmouth Commodores (16-26-1) for the last playoff spot in the West with just one game remaining in the regular season. Cotuit will make the playoffs if it defeats Wareham on Sunday or Falmouth loses to Bourne. If the Kettleers lose and Falmouth wins, the Commodores will take the last playoff spot.
“It was amazing, something we’ve been looking for all summer,” Susnara said. “It just clicked today … We were able to find the gaps.”
Y-D starter Evan Bell (Indiana) struck out Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) and Haynie to start the game, but then the Cotuit bats came to life.
Six straight singles sent four runs across the plate. Josh Rojas (Hawaii) beat out an infield single and a blooper by Spencer Gaa (Bradley) put runners on the corners. Sunara hit a slicing pop up down the left field line that landed fair and knocked in the first two runs.
Mike Paez (Coastal Carolina) lined to center then Brett Stephens (UCLA) followed with a bunt down the third base line for an infield single, loading the bases. Next up, Branden Berry whiffed on the first pitch.
“Use those legs,” Roberts shouted before Berry grounded a chopper up the middle that hopped over the mound, over second base past a diving infielder and all the way into center field.
Susnara and Paez scored. Roberts clapped his hands together three times and stomped his foot, yelling “thatta boy, Branden.”
The Red Sox started warming up a pitcher in the bullpen.
When the inning was over, the damage was four runs and the crowd roared with excitement as Cotuit took the field and Daniel Brown (Mississippi State) went back to work on the mound.
“It gives you so much more confidence,” Brown said of the early run support.
In the fourth, Haynie grounded a ball slowly out of the box that just sat in the infield grass almost like a bunt. Saige Jenco (Virginia Tech) scored from third and Haynie was out at first.
“First sacrifice bunt of the season,” someone yelled from the dugout as Haynie jogged back smiling, knowing that he extended his RBI streak to 10 games.
With the offense clicking, Brown cruised on the mound, inducing groundout after groundout. By the time he was removed in the seventh inning the Kettleers were up by seven. Luke Olson (George Washington), a new pitcher for Cotuit, arrived at the field during the first inning and finished off the game after Brown.
Y-D tried substituting out five position players, but nothing helped get them a run. Four different pitchers took the mound for the Red Sox, but three of them were tagged with runs.
Even in the eighth the Kettleers weren’t satisfied. After Susnara knocked in three runs and scored on a wild pitch, Kendall came to the plate with two on and two out.
“Come on, Jeren,” the dugout yelled. “Keep us going, kid.” And though he struck out, the 11 runs the Kettleers already had on the board were enough.
“It’s nice to smile after a game every once in a while,” Roberts said.
The Kettleers will travel to Wareham to face the Gatemen (16-25-2) on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the final game of the regular season and a battle for third place in the West.