By Jon Mettus
July 12, 2016
COTUIT — Despite being held to just two hits, Cotuit (the worst team in the league by record at 9-17-1) beat Harwich (the best team in the league at 16-9-2), 3-1, on Tuesday at Lowell Park. The Kettleers were fueled by a three-run fourth inning that included a Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) two-run double — Cotuit’s first hit of the game.
After the game, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said he’s not sure if he’s ever had a team in the Cape League turn five double plays in a game. That’s exactly what his defense was able to do on Tuesday, adding to what was already a league-leading total. Four of them came in the last four innings of the game.
The Kettleers entered the game with 27 double plays on the season and are now on pace for 52 by the end of the regular season — four shy of the league record set by Orleans in 1986.
“(The pitchers) got a lot of ground balls and our defense played well today,” Roberts said.
Harwich’s Ernie Clement (Virginia) hit a single to start the third inning, but then Joseph Dunand (North Carolina State) grounded to Cotuit’s Pat Dorrian (Lynn) at third, who started the double play. Three of the double plays began with Dorrian, who leads all third basemen in double plays.
When Cotuit reliever Eddie Muhl (George Washington) was able to end the sixth with a double play, he gave a quick celebratory nod before walking off the mound. In the seventh, he acted like it was business as usual.
Ryan Rigby (Mississippi State) entered in the eighth and hit the first batter he faced. But the next one grounded into a double play that pulled Jenista off the first base bag. He tagged the runner instead of the base. Jenista leads all first basemen in double plays.
Fittingly, the game ended on a double play — the first one on the day that started with second baseman Ryan Hagan (Mercer). He and shortstop Clay Fisher (UCSB) jumped together on the edge of the outfield grass after the game was over.
Muhl and Rigby combined to induce four of the double plays and keep the Mariners scoreless for the final five innings.
“You got eight right-handed hitters. Two sinkerballers going,” Roberts said. “I just thought Muhl and Rigby were the right people to pitch against them.”
Eddie Muhl stellar again
No pitcher has appeared in more games for the Kettleers and almost no pitcher in the league has made more appearances than Eddie Muhl. He pitched for the 12th time on Tuesday, going three innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball to earn his third win.
His 23 innings are the most of all relievers in the league and his 1.17 earned run average is third-best among all pitchers. He has started twice this season and closed games, but has now settled into a role as a middle-inning reliever.
“I love it and it’s a great spot to be for sure,” Muhl said. “Especially when you’re winning ball games like this.”
Muhl took over after starter Justin Hooper (UCLA) gave up a leadoff double in the fifth. Muhl quickly shut the chance down by getting the next three batters to ground out, strike out and line out, respectively.
The only hit Muhl surrendered was an infield single that was followed immediately by a double play. He had Nicholas Feight (UNC Wilmington) pounding his bat into the dirt in front of home plate in frustration after striking out.
“He is a conduit to get to the end of the game,” Roberts said. “… Eddie’s a really good guy in the middle.”