By Jon Mettus
August 3, 2015
HYANNIS — The Cotuit fans were silent.
Jon Woodcock (Virginia Tech) put his head down before watching the entire flight of the ball and kicked the dirt around on the mound before receiving another ball from the umpire.
Woodcock had just given up his second home run, a two-run blast in the third inning, and the Harbor Hawks jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Two errors led to three runs in the first, then Woodcock conceded a homer in each of the following two innings. Hyannis cruised from there, defeating the Kettleers, 10-3, in game one of the first round of the playoffs.
Game two will be at Lowell Park at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. If necessary, game three will be back in Hyannis on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“We got to play up,” head coach Mike Roberts said. “We just haven’t played up to our ability. The guys on this club have a lot more ability. I don’t know if it’s a lack of self-confidence or what it is, but they just got to play up.”
In the first inning, with a runner on first, Matt Thaiss (Virginia) hit a grounder to first that hopped up on Tim Susnara (Oregon) and he missed it. Josh Rojas (Hawaii), the second baseman, was trailing, but couldn’t get to the ball. It continued rolling into right field to Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge), but it squirted past him and deeper into the outfield.
Susnara and Berry each got errors on the play, a runner scored and the batter wound up at third.
Jacob Noll (Florida Gulf Coast) followed with a grounder to third and the runner charged home. Spencer Gaa’s (Bradley) throw home drew catcher Michael Cantu (Texas) away from the plate and he couldn’t lunge back to make the tag.
Roberts kicked the dirt in front of him and retreated to the dugout.
The third run of the inning eventually scored on a grounder over the third baseman’s head.
“Pitchers can’t consistently get people out when there’s a fourth out all the time and a fifth out,” Roberts said. “Defense was a real problem for us.”
When Ryne Birk (Texas A&M) smashed a ball over the right field fence just to the right of the flag pole and right above the “322” sign to leadoff the second, Woodcock slammed the ball in his glove in frustration before resetting himself on the mound.
Noll sent a two-run homer to left in the third.
By the end of the first three innings, Cotuit was down, 6-0. Roberts looked up to the scoreboard and saw that Hyannis had six runs on just four hits and two Kettleers errors. Cotuit had just one hit.
“The errors were a major contribution,” Roberts said. “… It rattled our whole scheme of things because you’re just playing behind all the time and against a good team that’s just really tough to do.”
The Harbor Hawks went on to add a few more, before Cotuit’s comeback attempt in the sixth. The Kettleers loaded the bases and Gaa hit a two-out single up the middle to score a run.
The Cotuit fans cheered, but the bench hardly reacted.
Cantu drew a walk to add another run, but no one on the Kettleers bench celebrated. The score was 8-2. Assistant coach Brian Scott was the only one to clap.
Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) came to the plate with a chance to make it a two-run game, but popped out to first in foul territory.
Cotuit never got any closer. For the seventh time this season, the Kettleers were unable to defeat the Harbor Hawks, and yet again defense was a major problem.
If Cotuit can’t win in its eighth attempt on Tuesday, its season will be over.
“We’ve lost 7 in a row to these guys,” Woodcock said. “I think it’s pretty hard to go a whole season without beating one team so I think tomorrow’s going to definitely be the day. If we win tomorrow, I think anything can happen in game three.”