By Matt Feldman
June 24, 2016
Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts has been saying all season that defense wins games, plain and simple.
On Friday night against Hyannis, even stellar performances on the mound from starter Keith Rogalla (Creighton) and reliever Cal Becker (Sonoma State) couldn’t put Cotuit on top of the Harborhawks at the end of the night.
Behind a strong start from Rogalla and an equally impressive relief outing from Becker, Cotuit (1-12) almost topped Hyannis (5-7) Friday night. Instead, it was too-little too-late offensively for Cotuit as the Kettleers fell to the Harborhawks by one run in a thriller at Mckeon Park, 2-1.
“I’ve had trouble with putting guys away, and putting teams away with two outs,” Rogalla said. “Tonight I just didn’t let my mind rest when I got to two strikes or two outs, and just tried to attack the hitter.”
On June 10, Rogalla allowed eight runs in four innings at Harwich as the starting pitcher for Cotuit’s season-opener. In his second start of the season on June 20, Rogalla allowed four runs in three and two-thirds innings of work at Orleans.
On Friday night at Hyannis, Rogalla turned his season around, tossing the best start of the month for Cotuit. Rogalla threw five and one-third innings for Cotuit, allowing two runs on three hits, both earned. His start was the second longest start from a Kettleer pitcher this season.
“Overall performance, this is probably the best I’ve felt,” Rogalla said.
Roberts pulled Rogalla one out into the sixth inning, making way for Becker. Rogalla left the game with the contest still within reach, down just 2-0 to Hyannis.
Coming off a two-inning shutout performance at Orleans Monday night, Becker flourished on the mound in relief, tossing two and two-thirds innings and allowing no runs on no hits. His relief appearance for Cotuit was the right hander’s longest appearance of the season.
“Cal has grown up a lot,” Roberts said. “He really ought to be a pro player, he deserves it. He really has outworked a lot of people.”
With Becker on the mound and Cotuit down 2-0 in the top of the seventh inning, the Kettleers threatened Hyannis’ two-run cushion. Ryan Hagan (Mercer) reached base for the Kettleers on a walk. After a Dayton Dugas (Wichita State) strikeout, Pat Dorrian (Herkimer) stepped in for the Kettleers.
On the first two pitches of the at-bat, Hagan stole second base and third base, scoring from third on the next pitch as Dorrian lined a two-out triple to deep right field. The triple put Cotuit on the board, 2-1, and within just one run of the Harborhawks late in the game.
For the first time this season, the Kettleers had built off of a strong defensive stretch and added offense to the equation. Behind Becker’s leadership on the mound, the Cotuit offense came around and rallied behind him, keeping the Kettleers in the game.
“It’s that will to win, that fight in the dog,” Becker said. “As we go forward, there will be more guys that are overzealous with this confidence, and I think it will slowly rub off on (the team).”
But 2-1 is where the score would remain, as the Kettleers’ bats stayed quiet for the remainder of the game. With Garrett Cave (Florida International) on the mound in the ninth for Hyannis, a Dorrian strikeout ended the game.
Even though Cotuit came out of Friday’s game with another loss in the books, Roberts said the type of outings he saw from Rogalla and Becker are the types of performances that the Kettleers need to build on to dig themselves out of the hole in the bottom of the league.
“I think that was the best game by the pitching staff,” Roberts said. “We’ll compete every day and we’ll win a bunch of games. If you have pitching like we had tonight, you’re gonna win some games.”