Video highlights by Jon Perez and Halley Harris
By Matt Feldman
July 12, 2016
COTUIT – Cal Stevenson (Arizona) stood on third base with one out on the board in the fourth inning. Pat Dorrian (Lynn University) stood at the plate, squaring to bunt as he laid down a roller right back to Harwich pitcher B.J. Myers (West Virginia).
As Myers charged the light bunt, the ball rolled just under his outstretched glove. Myers dove backwards as Stevenson sprinted home, flipping the ball towards home plate in a hapless attempt to prevent a run.
The ball bounced harmlessly off Stevenson’s leg as he slid in, putting the Kettleers on the board. As Stevenson jogged into the dugout, Myers lay motionless on the ground, gazing into the bluebird sky.
An expectedly strong start from Harwich starter Myers fizzled into a fourth inning run from the Kettleers that turned the momentum of the game around. Cotuit would hold the lead for the rest of the game, riding to a 3-1 victory over the Mariners Tuesday evening at Lowell Park in Cotuit.
Through the early portion of Tuesday’s game, Myers nonchalantly cruised through the Kettleers’ lineup. In his first three innings of work, Myers allowed no runs on no hits, and the only runner that reached base for Cotuit was Jack Klein (Stanford) on a dropped strike three.
“I was a little worried going into the fourth inning,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. “If you look at what (Myers) has done, he’s pitched six, seven innings and he really has a great demeanor on the mound.”
After Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) grounded out to first base — nabbed by a covering Myers in a split-second play — Myers casually flipped the ball behind his back, rolling it back towards the mound as he trotted off the field.
It was too easy for him.
“(Myers is) confident He throws the sinker ball,” Roberts said, “and he makes you make your own outs.”
But just as it was looking like another win for the Mariners’ ace, who boasted a 0.95 ERA and three wins coming into Tuesday’s game, he ran into trouble.
After crafty base running from Stevenson in the fourth inning saw the speedster perched on third base with one out, Dorrian laid down a safety bunt that Myers misplayed. Stevenson slid in safely at home, putting Cotuit on the board and tying the game at one.
“(Stevenson) is very confident, and I love watching him run the bases,” Roberts said. “I talked to (Arizona head coach) Jay Johnson … and I just said he’s a joy to watch play. He’s growing on me every day. He reminds me a lot of my son (Brian Roberts).”
Later in the inning, after Harwich manager Steve Englert visited Myers on the mound, Jenista smashed a two-RBI double into deep centerfield.
As the ball caromed off the base of the fence, rolling slowly towards centerfielder Ernie Clement (Virginia), Dorrian and Jason Delay (Vanderbilt) ran safely home. As fast as they were down 1-0, the Kettleers found themselves on top, 3-1, a tally that would hold for the remainder of the game.
“We were fortunate that we got a couple little mistakes, then Jenista hit a ball off the center field fence,” Roberts said. “Sometimes, that’s what it takes. You’ve watched us play … we’re not bombing anybody out of anything as far as runs.”
Jenista’s double was one of just two hits on the night for Cotuit, but it was ultimately the only hit the Kettleers would need.
Behind a one-run start from Justin Hooper (UCLA) and a relief duo of Eddie Muhl (George Washington) and Ryan Rigby (Mississippi State) that closed out the final five innings for Cotuit, the Kettleers’ outburst of scrappy baseball in the fourth inning was the difference in Tuesday’s game.
“Pitching and defense wins games, and you hope to get a big hit,” Roberts said. “And we got one.”