By Matt Feldman
video recap by Jon Perez
June 14, 2016
COTUIT – For the first time since the end of last season, Lowell Park was electric again. The bleachers were full and fans were on their feet cheering as the scoreboard switched from the seventh inning to the eighth.
The Kettleers had just strung together five runs on three hits in their home opener against Bourne, and were now beating the Braves, 5-4 after seven innings. All Cotuit had to do from there was hold the Braves in order to earn it’s first win of the season.
The Kettleers didn’t, mostly in part to their defensive play once again.
“When you’ve watched the other (Cape League) teams, they just play better defense,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. “These guys are intelligent enough to know what you need to do.”
Though Cotuit put five runs on the board in the seventh inning, the rally wasn’t enough to top the Braves, as Bourne’s three runs in the last two innings led the Braves to a 7-5 victory over the Kettleers Tuesday night in Cotuit.
After starting the game with just one hit and 18 straight batters retired, it looked like another poor offensive performance from Cotuit was imminent Tuesday night. That was until Bourne relief pitcher Brendon Little (North Carolina) gave the Kettleers hope in the seventh.
Little, a hard-throwing left hander, struggled early with his location, surrendering an infield single to Cal Stevenson (Arizona) before walking two straight Cotuit batters.
“That whole inning wouldn’t have started if it wasn’t for Cal,” Hagen Owenby (Eastern Tennessee State) said. “His hard-90 down the line, then his triple basically on the pickoff, he played a heck of a game tonight.”
Little was pulled immediately after the second walk, making way for right hander Zach Cook.
With the bases loaded and no outs on the board and Cook settling in on the mound, Owenby slowly made his way to the plate. The Kettleers saw themselves down 4-0 to the Bourne Braves, but Owenby had the opportunity to put runs on the board for Cotuit.
“Normally with the bases loaded, you want to get the job done early,” Owenby said. “I was honestly looking offspeed first pitch, and was gonna try to hit one in the air somewhere to get a run, at least one.”
Owenby took two straight balls, before lining a single into right-center field. Stevenson and Jordan Pearce (Nevada) scored. As they jogged into the dugout, Ricky Surum (Mount Olive) sprawled over the half-fence, hands in the air applauding the Kettleers’ offense.
Owenby’s hit started a rally which saw the Kettleers score three more runs and spring ahead of the Braves, 5-4, giving Cotuit its first lead of the season.
“My coaches at (East Tennessee) always tell me get it done early,” Owenby said. “So I just wanted to get something started for the team.”
But the lead wouldn’t last.
Entering the game in the eighth to relieve Eddie Muhl (George Washington) was Colton Hock (Stanford), and the reliever surrendered a run in the top of the eighth, followed by two runs in the top of the ninth, bringing the score to 7-5.
With no Kettleer run support over the final two innings, the two run lead was all Bourne needed to finish the Kettleers, 7-5. It was the Braves’ second straight win over Cotuit in just as many nights. Hock took the loss for the Kettleers.
“It’s kind of an instant replay of the first three games, it boils down to defense,” Roberts said. “We already talked about it; pitching and defense, pitching and defense, pitching and defense.”
Cotuit is back in action Wednesday night at home against Brewster. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m.