Video recap by Jon Perez
By Jon Mettus
July 30, 2016
BOURNE — A disgruntled Mike Roberts walked from his spot as third base coach back to the dugout, but made sure to share a few words with home plate umpire Jeff Kinney on the way.
“You gave them three runs because of those two pitches,” the Cotuit head coach said as he walked by. “Gosh dang it,” he yelled as he retrieved a drink from the dugout.
The plays he was referring to happened a full inning earlier — in the bottom of the first — and he was given a warning for expressing his displeasure then. But Roberts was still stewing.
With the bases loaded, Cotuit starter Matt Ruppenthal (Vanderbilt) threw a curveball that looked like it landed over the plate for an inning-ending strikeout. Kinney disagreed, and what followed were two walks and a wild pitch to let three runs — including the winning run — cross the plate. The Kettleers (13-26-1) tried to claw their way back, but lost to Bourne (19-19-2), 4-2, at Doran Park on Saturday.
“I don’t have any comment about the first inning,” Roberts said after the game. “It’s just really sad that the players can’t decide the game.
“That entire game hinged a lot on some things that happened in the first inning that didn’t have anything to do with guys in uniform.”
Cotuit is now three and a half games back of Hyannis for the final playoff spot in the West with just four games left in the season. Any Harbor Hawks win over the last four games will eliminate Cotuit from playoff contention.
Before three runs scored, before the controversial calls and even before the bases were loaded, there was Ruppenthal on the mound with a runner on first (the leadoff batter) and two outs.
He began to falter as a 2-2 count turned into a free pass for Connor Wong (Houston) and a full count to Evan Mendoza (North Carolina) finished off with a walk. Shortstop Ryan Hagan tried to give Ruppenthal some encouragement before Roberts came out for a mound visit.
John Jones (South Carolina) stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Then came the controversial pitch. A 2-2 curveball looked like it dropped below the letters. Kinney called it a ball.
“Where? Where was that pitch?” Roberts asked from the dugout. Kinney said it was up.
“Bull,” Roberts retorted before receiving a warning. “That’s a dang call.”
“You shouldn’t have answered it made you sound stupid,” a fan yelled to the umpire.
Ruppenthal walked Jones after a full count to let the first run in and all Roberts could tell his pitcher was “Great job, Matt.” A first pitch strike to the next batter, Danny Reyes (Florida), earned Ruppenthal more praise from his head coach — “That a boy way to throw strikes.” But the count was quickly full again and another run walked in.
A ball in the dirt that bounced off catcher Cory Voss (Arizona), ricocheted down the third base line and gave Bourne its third run was the topping on a disastrous inning for Ruppenthal and Cotuit.
Bourne had just one hit, but three runs. It took Ruppenthal 40 pitches, 22 of which were balls, to get through the frame.
“Once the ball leaves my hand there’s nothing I can do anymore,” Ruppenthal said. “The calls are the calls and you just got to kind of deal with them.”
How Roberts dealt with it was by sarcastically applauding the umpire after the inning.
Cotuit scraped together a run when Quinn Brodey (Stanford) hit a ground down the line in right past a diving first baseman and scored Jack Klein (Stanford). It was Brodey’s team-best 15th RBI on the year.
And when A.J. Balta (Oregon) hit a liner drive down the same line that two hopped to the fence to drive in Voss it was suddenly a one-run game.
But that was as close as it would get. The Kettleers were never able to overcome the demoralizing first inning.
“You don’t want to let the umpire come into play,” Voss said. “I don’t want to say he did tonight, but it’s a big … shifts the momentum. We were all pretty frustrated.”