By Matt Feldman
June 16, 2016
With the Cotuit Kettleers down 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday, Tim Susnara (Oregon) made his way to the plate. There were two outs on the board and with a runner on second base, Susnara represented one of Cotuit’s last chances to get back on top of Orleans.
“Come on Timmy, do it again,” a fan shouted from the stands, a reference to Tim’s pinch-hit single in Wednesday’s game, which scored two in the Kettleers’ win over Brewster.
But on a full-count pitch, Susnara struck out, and as he disappeared into the dugout, the Kettleers’ hopes for a win slowly disappeared with him.
Although the Kettleers (1-5) scored five runs in the third inning, that was all the offense the team could muster Thursday night, eventually falling to the Orleans Firebirds (4-2) 6-5 at Lowell Park. Behind nine hits from the Cotuit offense, the game was lost partly by shaky defensive play once again from the Kettleers.
The third inning saw the bulk of Cotuit’s offense, with the Kettleers putting up four of their nine hits and scoring all five of their runs. Mike Roberts said that in the third inning especially, he thinks the Kettleer offense did a good job of capitalizing on the opportunities they were given.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, Jordan Pearce (Nevada) singled into right field, scoring Susnara and Josh Shaw (St. Johns). The RBIs put Cotuit on the board, down 4-2 to the Firebirds.
“We’re starting to play clean baseball,” Pearce said. “If we just keep playing hard, opportunities will happen and we just gotta take advantage of them. The main thing is playing the game right and playing it hard.
After Cal Stevenson (Arizona) singled into right field, it was Greyson Jenista’s turn to get in on the action with runners on first and third.
Jenista smashed a ground ball back to Orleans pitcher Sean Guenther, who snagged the ball with his glove and made a move towards Stevenson at third. The Firebird dugout then yelled “two!” as Guenther wheeled his body around, watching as Pearce sprinted safely to second base.
Guenther finally made the move back towards first base, but he overthrew the first baseman as Jenista ran safely through the base.
Stevenson saw the ball go into the outfield and sprinted home. Pearce turned on the gears from second base, sliding safely into home as the throw from Will Golson (Ole Miss) came late. Pearce pounded the ground with both hands and yelled “let’s go!” as Stevenson helped him up.
“(The game) was sloppy on both sides,” Roberts said. “You got five errors on the board, it’s hard to know who comes up with the win.”
Now tied with the Firebirds, 4-4, Cotuit would eventually get on top later in the inning, 5-4.
But from there, the Cotuit bats died, and the defense couldn’t seem to find its footing, either.
After starting the game for the Kettleers, Keith Rogalla (Creighton) was replaced after four and one-third innings by outfielder-converted-pitcher Aaron Maher (East Tennessee State). Maher threw a full inning for Cotuit, allowing one hit and one earned run.
“(Pitching) was definitely exciting,” Maher said. “That was the first time I’ve pitched against live hitters since October.”
But with David Gerber (Creighton) on the mound for Cotuit in the seventh, the Kettleers lost the lead they had held for three whole innings. Gerber allowed one run on one hit, putting the Firebirds on top of Cotuit, 6-5, where the score would stay for the rest of the game.
“It’s a team game, you could go over every point in the ball game,” Roberts said. “We’re probably gonna have to play the game a little differently than we have before from now on.”