By Dylan Wolter
August 3, 2015
The Cotuit Kettleers season is on the line. Following a 10-3 loss to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in game one, the Kettleers are one loss away from being eliminated from the playoffs. Cotuit remains winless against the Harbor Hawks this season, now 0-7. The Kettleers will send Matthew Milburn (Wofford) to the hill tomorrow afternoon to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“Milburn will start tomorrow,” said a blunt head coach Mike Roberts. Roberts also said that Milburn could be splitting time with Nick Eicholtz (Alabama) depending on how the outing goes. Still, there will be immense pressure on the shoulders of Matt Milburn to keep the Kettleers championship dreams intact.
Milburn has fared well this season with a 2-3 record, holding a slid 3.37 ERA to go along with 24 strike outs in 32 innings. The most remarkable stat from the right hander is his stunning four walks all summer. He earned a spot in the Kettleers five man rotation this season, beating out the likes of Eicholtz and Duncan Robinson (Dartmouth).
Milburn knows he has a challenge ahead of him, witnessing first hand the talented Hyannis roster. “It’s always tough when a team has beaten you up all year,” admitted an anxious Milburn, “I pitched against them the first time pretty well, just got to go back to that mindset and keep it simple.”
Pitching in the playoffs will certainly add some intensity to his outing, aware that losing one more game will result in a long trip home. Milburn must temper his emotions and do what he does best, pitch.
“Naturally as a pitcher you always get amped up a little more for the playoffs,” claimed Milburn, knowing the season rests on him, “I’ll just try and be as calm as possible.”
Confusion in the Field- An unusual play occurred in the sixth inning with a man on first and one out. Jack Anderson (Penn State) struck out the hitter swinging as Austin Hays (Jacksonville U), the runner at first, attempted to steal second base. Michael Cantu (Texas) received the pitch and attempted to throw the ball to second base in order to catch Hays stealing.
The batter took a step over the plate, in front of Cantu, and was hit in the helmet by the throw. The ball deflected off the Hyannis helmet and through the shortstop hole. The runner was able to make it to third on the redirection of the ball. Hays would wind up scoring later in the inning and increased the Harbor Hawk lead to 9-2.
Fans griped and moaned that the hitter got in the way of the throw. Mike Roberts was soon to follow, scurrying out of the dug-out to a finger length away from the home plate umpire. The two conversed quietly but intensely, knowing every run makes a difference in the playoffs. The umpires collectively met together, but much to the chagrin of the Kettleers, the play stood.
Roberts, looking for an interference call, did not get one. After the game, he refused to talk about the play but was visibly upset over the outcome. Cantu claimed nothing like that has ever happened to him in his baseball career.
“Never once have I ever hit a batter in the head,” claimed an expressive Cantu, “It was a weird play. I thought he walked over, but the ump said he didn’t.” Fans and coaches took a similar side to Cantu but it was the umpires who had the final say. “It was a tough one to swallow,” mentioned Cantu. Indeed it was as Hyannis jumped out to a seven run lead.
Patience with Klein- Jack Klein (Stanford) has not started a game since July 24th at Harwich and his last at bat came in the All-Star game. The charismatic outfielder has been sidelined with a nagging foot injury that has bothered him towards the end of the season.
Klein’s status doesn’t look positive for the rest of the playoffs. “It’s not good for him to be running,” remarked Mike Roberts, “I’m not going to say he won’t play but it’s doubtful.”
The Kettleers could certainly use Klein in the field and at the dish. He was one of the most consistent players for Cotuit this summer with a slash line of a .253 batting average, 10 RBI’s, 5 runs, and one home run. Defensively is where Klein really shined, with plenty of high light real grabs in centerfield.
No one wants to be out there more than Klein himself. He has battled all season and has even attempted to play when not fully healthy. It doesn’t sound like Klein will get more than a pinch hit opportunity here and there and maybe an inning or two in the field. He is simply not strong enough to be starting games as he looks to get back to one hundred percent health.