Video highlights by Jon Perez and Halley Harris
By Matt Feldman
June 26, 2016
FALMOUTH – With Cotuit up 1-0 on Falmouth in the top of the fourth inning, Alonzo Jones (Vanderbilt) stood in the batter’s box with a chance to push the Kettleers’ lead even further.
He swung at the first pitch. Strike. The next two pitches blew right past Jones, as the slugger hardly moved his bat an inch. Strike two. Strike three.
“Please swing the bat,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts pleaded as Jones walked back towards the dugout.
With two outs on the board, the inning wasn’t over, but Roberts didn’t care. He followed Jones towards the dugout, leaning on the fence and making sure Jones knew exactly what he was upset about.
After a strong starting appearance from right hander Colton Hock (Stanford), Cotuit (2-13) fell apart against Falmouth (8-7) Sunday night, unable to capitalize on offensive opportunities throughout the game. Behind just three hits, the Kettleers dropped their 13th game of the season, 3-2, at Guv Fuller Field in Falmouth.
Hock came out firing for Cotuit Friday, carrying a perfect game into the fifth inning before it was broken up by a walk to Willie Burger (Penn State).
Hock threw five full innings for Cotuit Sunday, the longest start of the season from the Stanford hurler who was primarily used as a relief pitcher for the Cardinals. Hock allowed two runs on one hit, both earned. He struck out five and walked three, taking the eventual loss for the Kettleers.
“(It was) kind of an elongated outing, coming out of the pen and what-not,” Hock said. “It felt good to be out there; and (catcher Albee Weiss) called a great game, I think I only shook him off once.
But behind Hock’s strong start, Cotuit’s bats were just as silent as Falmouth’s. The Kettleers put just one hit on the board in the first five-and-one-third innings, and had just three hits in the entire game.
With the game tight and runs at a minimum, the Kettleers had to resort to small ball.
“We’ve got to get a run one way or another,” Weiss (Cal State Northridge) said. “We’re not really doing the things we need to do offensively, so we do everything we can to win.”
After an A.J. Balta (Oregon) single to start the fourth, Balta worked his way around the bases, reaching second on a throwing error and eventually going to third on a Jenista groundout.
With Balta on third and the game scoreless, Roberts called for a safety-squeeze play. Quinn Brodey (Stanford) laid down a bunt to the first base side of the field, and as Falmouth first baseman Tristan Gray (Rice) charged, Balta scampered home to put Cotuit on the board, 1-0.
“It’s about getting to those moments with runners in scoring position and capitalizing,” Weiss said. “(The offense) will come around.”
But soon after, Cotuit saw a streak of failures to capitalize on offensive opportunities. After Balta scored, Jones was caught looking at strike three by Falmouth starter Jeff Passantino (Lipscomb).
“We buy Marucci bats, they’re one of the best on the market,” Roberts said. “I said, ‘It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s got Marucci on the handle or a whiffle ball bat if you’re not gonna swing’.”
It was the quiet bats and poor decision making— highlighted by a play which saw Cal Stevenson fail to tag up off a Jenista fly ball to right field— that contributed to missed opportunities, ultimately spelling defeat for Cotuit Sunday.
And while the 3-2 loss stung for the players, the positive pitching performances from Hock and his relievers Connor Simmons (Georgia Southern) and Alec Byrd (Florida State) stuck out to Roberts.
“It was three days in a row we’ve had good pitching,” Roberts said. “And so I told the offensive guys, the pitchers expect you to swing the bat.”