By Jon Mettus
June 28, 2016
COTUIT — Mike Roberts charged from the dugout in disbelief, yelling, “Are you kidding me?” at home plate umpire Patrick “Sparky” Burns. “You made the mistake,” he continued.
Seconds earlier, with a runner on second, Cotuit’s David Gerics (Pomona-Pitzer) appeared to hit Justin Yurchak (Binghamton) in the foot with a pitch. Yurchak grimaced as the ball bounced high into the air and toward the backstop.
Everyone paused, except Jake Mangum (Mississippi State), who rounded third. Burns threw his hands in the air and yelled time before Mangum slid into the plate uncontested. But after a meeting between the officiating crew, Burns called out that Yurchak was walked, not hit, and the run scored.
“Obviously the ruling is incorrect,” Roberts said. “It’s obviously incorrect. … The umpire didn’t understand any of the situation.”
Two batters in, before an out was even recorded, the game was already officially under protest.
The first inning unraveled from there as the Kettleers gave up five runs in the opening frame. Cotuit (2-14) clawed its way back to within a run, but ultimately lost to Bourne (10-5-1), 5-4, at Lowell Park on Tuesday night.
Cotuit general manager Bruce Murphy will now file the paperwork for the protest with the league. Roberts is protesting, claiming that the ball hit the batter and that the run couldn’t score, regardless, because the umpire called time before he crossed the plate, he said after the game.
The league will review the situation. If Cotuit wins the appeal, the game will be replayed from that spot — no outs in the top of the first inning. If Cotuit loses the appeal, the loss stands.
As of now, it’s the Kettleers’ sixth one-run loss of the season and third in the last four games.
“It’s just my fault,” Roberts said. “You got to put nine people on the field who play the game really proficiently at the same time and I have struggled doing that.
“We’re beating ourselves. It’s frustrating to lose so many one-run games.”
Prior to the game, Gerics struggled “a little bit” with command in the bullpen, catcher Jason Delay (Vanderbilt) said. Those struggles continued in the game.
The controversial pitch was ruled a wild pitch. Gerics got the next batter to ground into a fielder’s choice, but then Gregory Deichmann (Louisiana State) and Willy Yahn (Connecticut) notched back-to-back singles to load the bases.
Roberts already had the bullpen warming up after the second batter and with just one out in the first, he removed Gerics in favor of Josh Roberson (UNC Wilmington).
Gerics wasn’t originally supposed to start, but 6-foot-4 Matt Ruppenthal (Vanderbilt) suffered a concussion when he hit his head on the “peewee” dugout in Hyannis on Friday, which is roughly only six feet tall. Roberts expects him to be out for about a week and a half to two weeks, but is unsure.
“He just wasn’t prepared to pitch in this league,” Roberts said of Gerics.
David MacKinnon hit a slow grounder to second that Pat Dorrian (Herkimer County) tried to field. Dorrian fell trying to barehand it and the runner scored all the way from second on an infield single.
A ball popped out of Delay’s glove with the next batter at the plate, allowing another run to score.
When the dust cleared, five runs had crossed the plate. Gerics was charged with three hits and four runs — four earned — in 1/3 of an inning. All three runners he left on base for Roberson scored.
“We struggled with fastball command a little bit and just getting ahead in the count,” Delay said.
The Kettleers are used to playing from behind this season. And as has become fairly common, Cotuit pulled itself back into the game.
Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) hit a liner into center in the third that the fielder fell trying to grab, letting Cal Stevenson (Arizona) score. Jenista lined into right two innings later with the bases loaded to tack on another. Dorrian followed with a groundout to first that pushed one more across.
Delay barely beat out a potential double play in the sixth to punch in Cotuit’s fourth run. Bourne’s manager Harvey Shapiro stomped out of the dugout this time to yell “that’s awful” and argue with the first base umpire.
But within a run is as close as the Kettleers would get. Through the final three innings, neither side could crack the scoreboard. And Cotuit dropped another contest, continuing to be winless in one-run games.
“We’re 2-100,” Roberts said of the team’s record.
Next up, Chatham visits Lowell Park at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.