By Jon Mettus
July 20, 2016
CHATHAM — The Kettleers (11-21-1) dropped their fourth game in a row, losing to the Chatham Anglers (12-19-1), 2-1, at Veterans Field on Wednesday night. Cotuit is now three and a half games back from Bourne and Hyannis for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West with 11 games left in the season.
When Cotuit manager Mike Roberts moved Quinn Brodey (Stanford) into the leadoff spot on July 10 at Hyannis, Brodey responded by taking the second pitch of the game over the right field fence for a leadoff home run.
What he did with the leadoff at-bat on Wednesday, though, was even more impressive. Brodey took the first pitch of the game from Andrew Karp (Florida State) and hammered it beyond the right field fence, over the team bus parked at the top of the hill and across Depot Road that runs behind the field.
“He attacks them every at-bat,” Roberts said. “… Quinn when he arrived was not an attack guy so I wish I could take whatever is in him right now and take some of that attack, attack, attack, hack attack, whatever it is and put it in some other guys.
“He’s been just a highlight for us. We just need some other guys to follow in his swing.”
Since being moved into the leadoff spot, Brodey has hit .323 (11-for-34), compared to just .250 beforehand. The team as a whole is hitting .205.
When Sean Bouchard (UCLA) smacked a line drive out to right field in the bottom of the third inning, it looked like Chatham might tie the game at one run.
A fly ball had been hit out to A.J. Balta (Oregon) in right field in the first inning. He got under it, but got turned around at the last second. It dropped and hopped over the fence for a ground rule double.
“He was a little tentative on the first ball in the game,” Roberts said, “and in the dugout he said, ‘Coach, next time I’ll run into the fence.’”
This time, Balta made a beeline for the ball and leaped about a foot away from the fence. He caught the ball that was headed for the hill beyond right field and hung by his left arm on the fence before falling onto his back on the warning track.
Balta grew up an infielder and has had to adjust to playing outfield at Oregon and for Cotuit.
Dropping the ball
The Kettleers started the season as the worst defensive team in the league, committing several errors per contest. But since Clay Fisher (UCSB) arrived from Team USA tryouts and Ryan Hagan (Mercer) slid over to second base, the defense had solidified.
Until recently, that is.
In the last four games, the Kettleers have committed six errors including at least one error in all but one of those contests.
On Wednesday, Cotuit had two errors — one by Pat Dorrian (Lynn) at third and another by first baseman Jodran Pearce (Nevada). A grounder bounced by Dorrian in the second inning and Pearce had a pickoff attempt bounce off his glove and roll to the fence.
Neither of the plays led to any runs.
After the 12-0 loss to Falmouth on Monday when the Kettleers had one error and another misplayed ball, Roberts said he did not know why the defense had been struggling recently. “You’d have to ask them,” he said, referring to the players.
Against Bourne on July 16, Hagan bobbled a ball in the bottom of the ninth inning that allowed the tying run to score. Cotuit ultimately lost, 6-5.