By Jon Mettus
July 26, 2016
COTUIT — The Kettleers gave up three runs in the eighth inning to blow their two-run lead and lose to the Bourne Braves, 3-2, at Lowell Park on Tuesday. Cotuit is now four and a half games back from Hyannis for the last playoff spot in the West.
Clay Fisher is going home
Shortstop Clay Fisher is heading home tomorrow and ending his time in Cotuit due to injury. Fisher has micro tears in his groin area, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. They’ve been there “probably” for a long time. he added, saying that Fisher said it has bothered him for months.
“He’s a wonderful man,” Roberts said. “I think he has an absolute good shot of you seeing him play in the Major Leagues one day. His tools at shortstop are very difficult to find.”
Fisher hit .231 with three doubles, three runs batted and a home run in 14 games this year. He hit a grand slam in his first game with Cotuit on July 3. He arrived late because he was at USA Baseball tryouts, but did not make the cut.
He hasn’t played since July 20.
“He really seems to adjust to every play really well,” Roberts continued. “He also knows the speed of the runner. He knows when to let it go and not let it go. … He gets everybody out and that’s the key.”
Equipment holding Alonzo Jones out
Cotuit is still searching for a mask for Alonzo Jones Jr. (Vanderbilt) to wear to get him into games. He’s been out since July 20 with a small fracture in his nose sustained when ball bounced off the lip of the grass during infield outfield drills and hit him in the nose.
Jones was feeling better on Tuesday and would probably have gotten an at-bat, Roberts said, but the team does not have a helmet that he can hit in that protects his face. Team trainer Craig Moody and Jones’ father have been on the hunt for the appropriate equipment.
“Something we’re trying to figure out is what is he going to use both defensively and base running in case he was out there base running and somebody slapped him with it because he cant afford to let that nose move right now,” Roberts said. “So we’re being pretty cautious until we get the right piece of protective equipment.”
Jones is batting .183 in 23 games and 71 at-bats this season. He has 13 hits, two triples and eight walks. He’s played second base and in the outfield.
Bilous’ struggles were mental
The biggest aspect Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) had to overcome was mental, he said. He was thinking too much and as a result, his first two starts suffered from a lack of consistency with his pitches on the mound. Eight hits, eight earned runs and seven walks allowed across his first two starts that lasted only 1 2/3 and 4 innings, respectively. His earned run average was more than 12 and the worst of the active pitchers on the team.
“They were there, but they weren’t all there,” Bilous said of his previous two starts. “And tonight I think I put it all together.”
Bilous looked like a completely different pitcher. He surrendered just two hits going four shutout innings. He walked three batters, but “lights out” according to catcher Tim Susnara (Oregon). Batters were even kicking away the back outline of the batter’s box so they could stand even further back while Bilous was up, Susnara said, “which you don’t see very often.”
“By far his best start,” Roberts said. “He used his changeup a lot better from the first time.”
The first play of the game was a scary one for Bilous. A hard-hit line drive struck him in the right shoulder. He recoiled a bit before picking the ball up and throwing out to first. The second batter of the game rocketed one that hit Bilous’ glove while he was protecting his face this time. Again, Bilous got off the mound to field the ball and got the out at first.
Bilous faced the minimum through two innings with the help of a throw out at second by Susnara. He got into trouble in the fourth inning when he got caught in three full counts in a row and gave up a single then two walks to load that bases. He said he was getting tired, thinking too much and “yanking” balls.
Roberts went out to the mound and sent relievers out to the bullpen, but Bilous induced a grounder to third the batter never even tried to run to first on because he thought he fouled it off.
“There was no thinking whatsoever,” Bilous said of the first three innings and the first two outs of the fourth. “I was just pitching.
“Mental is a big part of the game. It’s a tough barrier to get over, but once you get over it it’s a whole lot easier to pitch.”