Video highlights by Jon Perez
By Jon Mettus
June 25, 2016
COTUIT — Aaron Maher (East Tennessee State) stood at the front edge of the dugout and waved his hands up and down at the fans in the grandstand behind him. For the first time in nine games, they had something to cheer about.
As Taylor Lehman (Penn State) delivered the final strike of the game, Maher hopped over the fence, waved his arm in the air and jumped together with a few of his teammates.
The celebration might not have fit a regular season game, but the Kettleers (2-12) finally got their second win of the season, beating Yarmouth-Dennis (6-8), 6-3, at Lowell Park on Saturday night. It was Cotuit’s first win in 10 days.
“We scored more runs than they did,” head coach Mike Roberts said as he walked away from the postgame meeting to address the media. “That’s what’s up.”
The Kettleers scored the most runs they have all season and gave up three or less runs for just the fourth time of the year. Lehman was the Kettleers’ saving grace from the bullpen, throwing five innings of hitless baseball in relief to earn the win.
Cotuit has spent most of the season playing from behind, but on Saturday it held a lead for all but one half inning. The Red Sox scored two runs on Ross Achter (Toledo) in the first before he induced an inning-ending broken-bat double play on a grounder back to him that Roberts called the biggest play of the game. But the Kettleers got four runs back in the next half inning.
Each of Cotuit’s first four batters reached base. The fifth, Ryan Hagan (Mercer), hit a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded to open the scoring. Jack Klein (Stanford) watched four pitches go by for a walk that scored a run, then trotted down the first base line as Y-D starter Michael Baumann (Jacksonville) was pulled after just 2/3 of an inning.
Cory Voss (Arizona) was next to the plate and struck a line drive into left field that pushed two more runs across.
By the time the second inning rolled around, the Kettleers already scored as many runs as they had in any one of the last six games.
Achter hung on for three more innings for Cotuit (and one more run) before Lehman came in and immediately shut the door on any hope of a Red Sox comeback. In five innings of relief he gave up no hits and no runs. After issuing a walk in the fifth, Lehman proceeded to set down the next 10 batters in a row.
“The thing that is amazing to me is he went out there in relief and threw five beautiful innings,” Roberts said, “and he was at Orleans the other night and just chug-a-lug-lugged the whole time.”
In return, the Kettleer bats knocked in runs in the fifth and seventh innings to cushion a 4-3 lead to three runs in the later innings.
As the top of the ninth inning loomed, a player in the dugout began yelling, “Let’s get it,” repeatedly, referring to the second win of the year that had proved so elusive for Cotuit.
When it was over, the players were finally able to joke about it all. “It’s nice to not have to go out there for the bottom of the ninth,” Klein said. “We were saying, we were kind of joking around, ‘Wow, this is fun.'”
With the win the Kettleers are now three games back from Hyannis for the final playoff spot in the West. The majority of the season still has yet to be played.
“It doesn’t take but one week to turn this thing around,” Roberts said. “… I think they know they can play with anybody. We just got to put games together.”