By Jon Mettus
July 17, 2016
COTUIT — The Kettleers couldn’t muster up much offense on Sunday and fell to the Falmouth Commodores, 3-0, at Lowell Park on Sunday. All three runs were charged to Cotuit starter Justin Hooper (UCLA) and no one scored for the final four innings of the game.
Cotuit will head to Falmouth on Monday for the second half of the home-and-home series.
Alec Byrd shines
It had been nine days since Alec Byrd’s (Florida State) last appearance — a one-out outing where he gave up three hits on July 8. Finally, he got another chance on Sunday.
Hooper put together his longest start of the season before running into some trouble in the fifth. Byrd headed out to the bullpen, and sure enough, one batter later, he entered the game.
Two runners were already on base and Byrd struggled with his command early on — likely the product of not having an abundance of time to warm up. He retired the first batter, but walked the next one on five pitches to load the bases. He struck out Deacon Liput (Florida) on a full count, but then walked one of the league’s best hitters in J.J. Matijevic (Arizona) to let in one of Hooper’s runs.
During that inning, Byrd’s hand was in what Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts calls “Dr. Andrews’ position” — named for when players are throwing too far from the side, hurting theirs arms and making them pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews, an orthopaedic surgeon.
“Alec settled down and pitched really well after he walked the run in,” Roberts said. “He’s very experienced. … I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Once Byrd found his groove, the next two innings were a breeze. He retired the final six batters he faced, including four strikeouts. Tyler Lawrence (Murray State) was set down looking, but the rest fanned on their at-bats.
The final line on Byrd was three innings pitcher, two walks, no runs and six strikeouts — tied for his longest, and arguably best, outing of the year.
“I hadn’t thrown in a couple days so just getting back into game reps was big,” Byrd said. “I just had to get my rhythm back. Looks like I found it a little bit. Thank God.”
Alonzo Jones Jr. shows improvement in base stealing
Alonzo Jones Jr. (Vanderbilt) has struggled stealing bases this year. He was just one-for-five coming into the game and Roberts called Jones “a little dormant” on the base paths, leading to him getting thrown out.
Roberts added, however, that he made a commitment to improve Jones’ base stealing ability.
A glimpse of their work became apparent in the bottom of the second with Clay Fisher (UCSB) at the plate.
Jones shuffled off the bag, turned and ran while the ball was still in the pitcher’s hand for a good job. Fisher fanned on the pitch at the plate, but even a good throw couldn’t get Jones, who slid in safely.