By Matt Feldman
June 5, 2016
Cotuit — Early in the fifth inning of Cotuit’s doubleheader against the Lexington Blue Sox, Dayton Dugas (Wichita State) drove a pitch to deep left field, over the 320-foot sign and into the trees. Rounding third base, the Kettleer slugger was straight-faced, glancing just once into his dugout as he trotted home.
“Hey, you can smile,” a Kettleer player joked from the dugout.
Dugas chuckled as he touched home plate, jogging into the dugout with a smile on his face.
“I’m the type of guy, I never like to pimp (my home runs),” Dugas said, “I always sprint no matter what, and get back to the dugout and try to do it all over again.”
For Dugas, the fifth inning home run was business as usual.
His teammates followed suit, putting together twelve innings of textbook baseball over the course of two six-inning exhibition games. Cotuit prevailed in both games, taking the first, 9-0, and the second, 5-0, over the Lexington Blue Sox of the Intercity Baseball League Sunday at Lowell Park.
With an overcast sky and cool, rainy weather as the backdrop, the first game started hot for the Kettleers. Cotuit scored six runs in the first inning off of the Blue Sox’s first pitcher, a knuckleballer throwing no harder than seventy miles per hour.
Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) hit leadoff for Cotuit in the first game and reached base in all four plate appearances. He singled twice, walked once, and was hit by a pitch. Jenista said as the leadoff batter, it was his job to get on base however he could, and things just seemed to fall into place for him Sunday.
“You always want to see your offense show in games like this,” Jenista said. “The pitchers especially are excited, seeing what kind of offense is behind them.”
In the top of the fourth inning, Lexington threatened with one out and a runner on third base. A Blue Sox batter lifted a shot to deep right field, and as Dugas circled under it, the Kettleer dugout began yelling, “Shoot it!”.
Dugas made the catch, then gunned the ball home, launching it over 275 feet and on a direct line to home plate. The deep throw held the runner at third base, and kept the Blue Sox scoreless.
“(Scouts and coaches) always say I have four tools, but I lack with my arm,” Dugas said, “so I’ve really made an emphasis to make my arm stronger. So I long tossed all spring, and it’s really paying off for me.”
Dugas said that was the first time in recent games that his arm has been tested, but he hopes to get more opportunities with his improved arm in the future.
After Dugas’s save, the game stayed at 6-0 in favor of Cotuit until the bottom of the fifth.
Dugas led off the inning with a home run to left, his first of the season. Two batters later, Albee Weiss (Cal-State Northridge) sent a shot to almost the same place, his first also.
Cotuit posted thirteen hits in the first six-inning game of the doubleheader, compared to Lexington’s four.
The strong hitting performance was paralleled by an equal pitching outing from three separate Kettleer pitchers, Ross Achter (Toledo), David Gerics (Pomona-Pitzer), and Taylor Lehman (Penn State), helping Cotuit to a 9-0 victory in the first game.
With less offensive action than the first game, the Kettleers still mustered five runs on the Blue Sox behind nine hits in the second game.
In the bottom of the first inning, Aaron Maher (Eastern Tennessee State), replaced Jenista as the Cotuit leadoff hitter. Maher took a fastball to deep right-center field and into the trees, his first home run of the season.
From there, the pace of the game slowed considerably, as the Blue Sox struggled to put anything together on either end. As the Kettleer hitters tallied runs on the scoreboard, the Kettleer pitchers followed suit, mowing down Blue Sox hitters every inning.
After closing the first game, Lehman started the second, and was followed on the mound by Cameron Sepede (Salt Lake Community College) and Eddie Muhl (George Washington), carrying the Kettleers to a 5-0 victory.
The all-around effort had the Kettleer players optimistic as they left the dugout Sunday, embracing their new host families and tossing jokes back and forth to each other as children ran around on the field.
“Most of the guys just got done with conference tournaments, and their swings are just starting to come back,” Jenista said, “It’s only going to get better from here.”