By Matt Feldman
July 26, 2016
COTUIT —Taylor Lehman (Penn State) wasn’t happy. He wound up, slamming his glove into the floor of the dugout as he walked down the steps after the eighth inning.
Lehman had just walked in the tying run and allowed a sacrifice fly to center field that scored another, putting Bourne on top of Cotuit, 3-2, in the eighth inning Tuesday night. Just three innings earlier, Lehman had been selling 50/50 tickets in the grandstands and appearing on the online broadcast with play-by-play personalities Jason Dorrow and Aodhan Doyle.
Cotuit (12-24-1) was edged by Bourne (17-18-2), 3-2, Tuesday night at Lowell Park. Tuesday’s loss was a loss that further diminished the Kettleers’ playoff hopes with just seven games left in the season. Despite the loss, Quinn Brodey (Stanford) was strong again for the Kettleers on offense, posting three of Cotuit’s five hits, and scoring both of the Kettleers’ runs.
Cotuit needed a win Tuesday night, and everybody at Lowell Park knew it.
Sitting out of a playoff spot in the Western Division and four-and-a-half games behind Bourne, the Kettleers’ playoff hopes were slowly dwindling after losing six of their last seven games. Tuesday’s game against Western foe Bourne had an opportunity for a one-game swing, and the chance to pull Cotuit closer to playing after August 3rd in the playoffs.
Everything looked golden for Cotuit through seven innings Tuesday evening— Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) had the best start of his season, tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just two hits, and the Cotuit offense had scored two unanswered runs, both scored by Brodey.
But despite the strong start, a win just wasn’t in the cards for the Kettleers Tuesday night.
In the eighth inning, Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts sent Jacob Erickson (San Diego State) to the mound to continue his relief appearance. Erickson had already tossed two scoreless innings, backing up Bilous’ start, and Roberts decided to stretch the crafty left hander into the eighth.
But after Erickson allowed a leadoff single to Danny Reyes (Florida), Roberts pulled him. In came right handed Western Division all star Eddie Muhl (George Washington), Cotuit’s “band-aid man”.
“(Erickson) was a little bit tired, but (I thought) we’d go one hitter,” Roberts said. “And that was probably one hitter too many.”
But just two singles and a Ryan Hagan (Mercer) error later, Bourne had cut Cotuit’s lead to 2-1 and Muhl’s band-aid was beginning to rip off. With the bases loaded and just one out on the board, Roberts pulled him for Lehman.
The batter for Bourne, John Jones (South Carolina), had been warming up as a left handed hitter, but as soon as Lehman jogged in from the pen, Jones ditched the pad on his right elbow and started swinging as a righty.
“(Eddie) hadn’t kept the ball down very well… the way the ball’s come off the bat, where (Muhl’s) pitches are… but the responsibility (for Muhl) is, you have to get an out.”
Thankfully for Lehman, he didn’t allow a hit to the right handed Jones. Instead, the left hander walked him on a full count. Another run came in for Bourne, and the game was now tied at two apiece.
With just one out and the bases still loaded, Lehman then allowed a sacrifice fly to centerfield from David MacKinnon (Hartford). A third run scored for the Braves, and even as the third out of the inning was made on a tag-out at second, the damage had been done, and the band-aid that Muhl had been tasked to apply just three outs earlier had been completely ripped off.
“It wasn’t my best (outing), but you’ve just gotta improve,” Lehman said. “It’s a tough (loss), especially one run.”
In one inning, Cotuit’s hopes for a win, and its hopes to somehow make the playoffs, had been completely reversed. The Kettleers would eventually lose, 3-2, dropping five-and-a-half games behind the Braves and four-and-a-half games behind Hyannis and a playoff spot with just seven games left on the season.
“It’s real disappointing… We have to beat Bourne,” Cotuit Catcher Tim Susnara (Oregon) said.