Video recap by Jon Perez
By Matt Feldman
June 22, 2016
COTUIT — After Monday’s 10-4 loss at Orleans, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said that he needed to “reset the club”. At the Kettleers’ practice on Wednesday, Roberts sat his team down and lectured them; he re-tooled the hitters, refined the fielders, amplified the intensity and adjusted the pitching rotation.
Against Harwich Wednesday, most of those adjustments came to fruition.
“Much better effort by the entire team,” Roberts said. “The atmosphere in every part of it was better.”
The Cotuit batters posted nine hits, two more than Harwich’s seven. The Kettleers’ defense made no errors— just their second error-free game of the season. And the Cotuit players were upbeat all game, chattering in between pitches and hustling after foul balls.
Unfortunately for Roberts and the rest of the Kettleers, the one part of the team that failed to come around after Wednesday’s rousing was the pitching staff.
The Cotuit pitchers allowed six walks and three hit batsmen in Wednesday’s game against Harwich (9-2), and despite outhitting the Mariners nine-to-seven and a clean-fielding defense, the dangerous mix of free bases spelled defeat for the Kettleers (1-10) at Lowell Park in a 7-2 loss to Harwich.
After winning just one of their first ten games this season, Roberts tried to right the Kettleers’ ship with right hander Matt Ruppenthal (Vanderbilt).
“Ruppenthal threw the ball good,” Roberts said. “He threw too many pitches, walked a couple guys with the bases loaded— or to get the bases loaded— and you can’t do that and catch up (offensively) with wood bats. But was it better? It was better.”
The power right hander got the start Wednesday, a position he is unfamiliar in. Ruppenthal posted a 2.33 ERA in 46.1 innings at Vanderbilt this season, and almost all of those innings were in relief. So when he was called on to start Wednesday, he knew that to be a successful starter, he would have to work on some things.
“It’s just a role change from what I’ve been doing at Vanderbilt, being usually an inning or two guy,” Ruppenthal said. “The first inning was pretty good, but after that it got a little shaky.”
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Ruppenthal struggled. He gave up two straight hits to start the second inning, and after a barrage of walks, hits, and hit-by-pitches, the starter saw himself down 2-0 early.
Offensively, Cotuit was able to come back from the deficit, scoring a run on a Pat Dorrian (Stanford) double to centerfield, which brought Cotuit within one. The slugger has been in and out of the lineup recently, but had one of just two Cotuit RBIs Wednesday.
“Look at the young guy like Dorrian,” Roberts said. “(He’s playing) pretty good.”
Down just one to the Mariners with four innings left, the game fell apart for the Kettleers. The offense failed to put runs on the board, though mustering nine total hits, two apiece from Hagen Owenby (East Tennessee State) and Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt), and the pitching continued to fall off.
Ruppenthal was replaced by left hander Aaron Maher (East Tennessee State), who didn’t even last a third of an inning on the mound. Maher allowed two hits and two runs, both earned, and was pulled before he could register an out.
“I’m standing in the third base box and I’m saying, ‘Wow, I don’t see any difference in the talent level between the other teams and our club’,” Roberts said. “But for some reason we can’t get in the win column.”
From there, the remaining two pitchers, Ryan Rigby (Mississippi State) and David Gerics (Pomona-Pitzer), combined for three runs on three hits in five innings of work.
But down five runs late in the game, they could only sit and watch as the Kettleer offense was overpowered by Harwich right hander Peter Solomon (Notre Dame), who set the Kettleer batters down in the ninth, and ended the game at 7-2.
It was, once again, a case of poor pitching from Cotuit, behind what many would consider a strong offensive night for the Kettleers’ hitters.
“When you look at the scoreboard, we have nine hits they have seven,” Roberts said. “But when you look at the scorebook, we have three hit batsmen, six walks, and that’s the difference in the game.”