By Jon Mettus
Jun 18, 2016
BREWSTER — Kettleers head coach Mike Roberts remained on the field talking with assistant coach Nolan Clark to a select group of his players until about 20 minutes after the game ended.
He was emphatic with his motions. Talking with his hands. Spinning in circles to look each of his four catchers in the eye.
By the time it was over, the rest of the team had long since cleared out of the dugout and were waiting with the bus. The message wasn’t short, but it was simple.
“He pointed out how good our pitching staff is — and they’re incredible obviously — some of the best that he’s had, is what he said,” said Cory Voss, who took over as catcher in the fifth inning. “So it’s our job behind the plate to obviously call good pitches and allow them to do what they do best.”
The team as a whole has been less than at its best. With another loss — this time to the tune of 7-5 at Stony Brook Field — the Kettleers have dropped to 1-7 to start the season. Each of the last four losses have come by two runs or less. Cotuit has had the lead past the fifth inning in its last four games, but only has one win to show for it.
“I’ve never had a team get off to this bad a start ever, I think, in 44 years of coaching,” Roberts said.
The Kettleers had two different leads on the day: one in the first inning off catcher Albee Weiss’ (Cal State Northridge) single into left field (1-0) and another in the fifth when Voss (Arizona) blasted a two-out grand slam over the large scoreboard behind the left field fence and well into the trees on the first pitch of his pinch-hit at-bat (5-3).
At the plate, the catchers thrived. But behind it was a different story.
In the bottom of the fourth, starter Matt Ladrech (California Berkeley) walked the leadoff man and Weiss jogged out to the mound to confer with his pitcher. After one more pitch — in the dirt — Roberts had his own meeting on the mound. But a passed ball on the following pitch moved the runner to second and walk added another base runner.
Brewster’s Matt Davis (Virginia Commonwealth) hit a ball left over the plate to the right field fence for a two-run triple. A liner into left-center in the next at-bat sent Roberts into the dugout in frustration. He emerged only to signal for Jared Padgett (Mississippi State) to supplant Ladrech on the mound.
Roberts benched Weiss in the next half inning.
“Every ball that comes out of the glove is reported and right now we’re breaking the record for it,” Roberts said.
But the first pitch Voss was behind the plate for — the fault of either him or Padgett — was sent out of the park for a solo homer.
Two batters later, Matt Ruppenthal (Vanderbilt) came in to pitch.
The Whitecaps scored seven runs from the fourth through seventh innings, plating at least one in each.
The winning run came with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the sixth. A.J. Graffanino (Washington) dribbled a ground ball between Jordan Pearce and the first base bag that sent the tying and winning runs across the plate.
Roberts stood by the dugout with his arms out at his sides and palms turned upward while talking to Voss, confused at the pitch selection that had just cost his team the lead
“We’re still working really hard to try to understand not only are they calling pitches, but they have to understand the situation of the game,” Roberts said of his catchers. “You’ve got the No. 9 hitter and you’ve got three right handers behind him. And so you just lay fastballs in him with first base open?
“We’re just trying to teach them the situational while they’re calling pitches without us doing it from the dugout. But we’re really struggling.”