By Matt Feldman
June 19, 2016
After walking three straight Hyannis batters in just one-third of an inning, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts had seen enough of Cal Becker (Sonoma State).
As Peter Zyla (Duke) sprinted home after a wild-pitch walk, Roberts put his head down, rubbing his face with his left hand as the scoreboard posted another run for Hyannis. Roberts took three steps out of the dugout, signaling to the bullpen for a new pitcher.
“When the catchers are running (behind the plate), you just can’t do that,” Roberts said. “If you want to be honest and open as a coach, we haven’t put it together yet.
Becker was one of five Kettleer pitchers to see the mound Sunday, contributing in part to Cotuit’s 5-4 loss to Hyannis at Lowell Park in Cotuit. After a performance which saw Cotuit’s offense put four runs on the board, the Kettleer pitching staff again struggled, allowing five runs in the loss.
Justin Hooper (UCLA) got the start for Cotuit and lasted two and one-third innings. Hooper allowed three runs on three hits, all earned, and was given the loss. He was followed by David Gerics (Pomona-Pitzer), who threw just three pitches in two-thirds of an inning, allowing no runs on no hits.
“(Hooper) had three left handed hitters; he hit two and walked one. You can’t do that,” Roberts said. “But again, he’s only pitched 10 or 12 innings (in college), but he’s very good.”
Trouble struck again for Cotuit in the top of the fourth, when Becker walked three straight Harbor Hawk batters. On the final walk, a wild-pitch ball four brought in a run and Becker was pulled, making way for Ross Achter (Toledo).
Before the bottom of the fifth, Roberts huddled the team in the dugout with the score sitting at 4-1 in favor of Hyannis. He told them that they need to grow up and start playing like more mature players.
“This is an adult league, and we’re not playing like adults,” Roberts said. “That’s saying it like it is.”
Down 5-3 in the eighth inning, Ryan Hagan (Mercer) gave the Kettleers hope, smashing a solo home run to deep left-center field.
The home run took the score to 5-4, but with Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) on second and two outs on the board in the ninth, Hagen Owenby (East Tennessee) struck out, ending the Kettleer’s comeback bid.
“My father always said, close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades,” Roberts said. “We’re getting what we deserve, losing one-run games is because you’re not efficient for nine innings.”
Aaron Maher (East Tennessee State) closed the game for Cotuit, tossing two scoreless innings and allowing no hits. He was the last of the five Kettleer pitchers Sunday, all of which saw less than four innings.
This shotgun-pitching trend is one that Roberts said will soon go by the wayside.
“Now what we’re going to be doing (regarding pitching) is going to a set starting rotation, starting tomorrow night,” Roberts said. “It’ll be the most mature guys, the most experienced guys on our club.
Despite the loss, Alonzo Jones (Vanderbilt) bolstered the Kettleers’ offense Sunday. Since arriving on the Cape last Wednesday, Jones has struggled at the plate, hitting 0-for-6 in his first two games.
But on Sunday, the slugger shined, batting 3-for-5 in the loss, with two singles and a double.
“I’m starting to make the adjustment from metal to wood, it’s nice,” Jones said. (Cape League pitchers) throw the ball inside a lot more. I broke (a bat) tonight, so we have to make that adjustment.”
The Kettleers are back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Eldredge Park in Orleans. The Firebirds are currently 5-4, losing 6-5 Sunday night to the Wareham Gatemen.