Video highlights by Jon Perez and Halley Harris
By Matt Feldman
July 31, 2016
COTUIT — When Cotuit took the field Sunday night, its playoff hopes were slim, but alive. The Kettleers needed a win over Chatham and a Hyannis loss to see their playoff hopes survive another night.
Nine innings, nine hits and a shutout pitching performance from Cotuit duo Rio Gomez (Arizona) and Jacob Erickson (San Diego State) later, those hopes were still very much alive.
The Kettleers (14-26-1) topped Chatham (15-25-1), 1-0, Sunday night at Lowell Park in Cotuit. The win, coupled with a 2-1 loss to Harwich from Hyannis, kept Cotuit in the playoff race, now just two-and-a-half games behind the Harbor Hawks.
Gomez and Erickson were both electric on the mound Sunday for the Kettleers. Gomez saw his longest start of the season, allowing no runs on just three hits in six innings of work. Erickson entered in relief, and his crafty array of pitches induced enough Chatham groundouts and fly-outs for a no-run, one-hit performance in the final three innings.
“I think (the fans) saw a very good club with two very good lefthanders that changed speeds well out there,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. “The thing about (Gomez) and Erickson is they throw strikes … they’re facing eight right-handed hitters in there today … those two young men show great poise on the mound.”
For the first five-and-a-half innings Sunday, thanks to Cotuit’s strong pitching and poor batting early from the Kettleers, the game was scoreless, and it was looking like Cotuit might lose its chance at the playoffs.
But in the bottom of the sixth, Tim Susnara (Oregon) took it upon himself to put Cotuit on the scoreboard, and bolster the team’s playoff hopes. Susnara launched a solo-home run to right center field on a fastball from Parker Rigler (Kansas State). Four children chased the ball into the trees as Susnara briskly jogged around the bases.
“I was just sitting fast ball; (Rigler) struck me out the first two times on curveballs and I knew if I didn’t hit it it would end up the same way,” Susnara said. “So I just stayed nice and relaxed and swung nice and easy.”
As Susnara stood in the Cotuit dugout, wiping down his black Marucci bat with the right side of his jersey top, Harwich took the lead, 2-1, over Hyannis at Whitehouse Field in Harwich.
In the span of ten minutes, Cotuit’s playoff hopes had been revived.
“You’ve got to play every game like its your last,” Susnara said. “We’re fighting to stay alive. It could very well come down to the last game … anything can happen.”
As Erickson closed the game for the Kettleers, hurling the final three innings of scoreless baseball, the score at Lowell Park, along with the score at Whitehouse Field, stayed right where it was.
The Kettleers jogged off the field with a 1-0 victory and — thanks to Hyannis’ 2-1 loss in Harwich — a revived chance at the playoffs, entering tomorrow’s away game at Hyannis.
“Take it game by game,” Susnara said. “There’s definitely a little more momentum and a little extra drive (behind the team) knowing it’s a must win every game.”