By Matt Feldman
July 27, 2016
The Kettleers (12-25-1) lost 5-4 in 11 innings Wednesday night to Orleans (17-20-1), at Eldredge Park in Orleans. The back and forth game saw five different pitchers for Cotuit, four for Orleans, and the sides had 24 hits apiece. The loss kept Cotuit four-and-one-half games behind Hyannis and out of the final playoff spot in the Western Dvision.
Jordan Pearce’s bat
Coming into the July 21 games against Yarmouth-Dennis, Jordan Pearce (Nevada) was batting 0-for-25. Since then Pearce has batted five for his last 19, including two hits Wednesday night against the Firebirds.
Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said that he and the rest of the coaching staff has been emphasizing Pearce keeping his front toe closed. Roberts said that earlier in the season, Pearce would open up his front toe, and that’s why he was struggling. But, Roberts said, since Pearce has began closing his front toe, his bat has been red hot. He’s now seeing consistent time in the lineup, usually at third base, and is taking reps that Roberts was too weary to give him just a month ago.
“This summer’s been long, I’m just kind of starting to have fun a little bit, starting to put good swings on the ball,” Pearce said. “Finishing my swing has helped me a lot. Coach Roberts has… been on me all summer and didn’t let me give up on it.
Alec Byrd with mammoth relief appearance
After six innings had been played Wednesday night and Orleans led the Kettleers, 4-2, Roberts pulled reliever Connor Simmons and called Alec Byrd (Florida State) from the bullpen. Byrd was lights out for the Kettleers, allowing no runs on four hits and five strikeouts in the four-inning relief appearance. he helped carry the game past regulation and into extra innings, where Ryan Rigby (Mississippi State) would take over in the 11th.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the bases loaded and one out, a small dribbler was chopped back to Byrd. He charged the ball, snapping it in his glove and just barely slapping the tag on Scott Hurst (Cal State Fullerton) in a cloud of dust as Hurst ran through the plate. The umpire wound up and threw the out sign at Hurst, and after another quick out via strikeout in the next at-bat, Byrd had gotten the Kettleers out of one of the biggest jams of the night all by himself.
Still, the Kettleers fumbled away the game in the 11th after Byrd was pulled for Rigby and the right hander allowed the winning run.
Roberts said that sometimes, a team can have strong facets but still not be able to win one-run games. In talking to a former associate of his, the associate told Roberts that his summer ball team had lost 18 one-run games, despite leading the league in offense and pitching/defense. Cotuit has now lost 12 one-run games. So, despite the loss, Roberts acknowledged that one can’t take away from what players like Byrd are putting on display night in and night out, but instead it’s the little things that are keeping Cotuit from winning these tight contests.