By Matt Feldman
August 2, 2016
The Kettleers (15-26-1) dominated Hyannis (17-25) Monday night, running on all cylinders en route to a 5-1 victory over the Harbor Hawks at Mckeon Park. The win was Cotuit’s third straight, and Hyannis’ sixth straight loss. Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) was the starter for Cotuit, and he allowed one run on five hits and four walks in five innings of work. He struck out one.
Kettleers still in the playoff race
With Monday night’s win, Cotuit stayed alive in the tight Western Division playoff race. Down four-and-a-half games just one week ago, the Kettleers are now down just one-and-a-half games on Hyannis. The Kettleers must win Tuesday night’s game at Yarmouth-Dennis as well as Wednesday night’s game against Wareham to keep their hopes alive. Alongside that, Hyannis must lose Tuesday night’s game at Falmouth and Wednesday’s game at home against Y-D.
“It’s known, it’s not said out loud, but everyone knows it,” Bilous said regarding the win-or-go-home situation Cotuit is facing. “It’s definitely in the back of your mind when you’re taking some swings or throwing strikes… you definitely think about it a little bit.”
Cotuit’s chances at the playoffs have skyrocketed in the past three days, with its three straight wins to keep the team alive. The final hurdles for the Kettleers are Y-D, the top team in the Eastern Division, and Wareham, the No. 2 team in the Western Division. Hyannis, however, has hurdles of its own to jump with Falmouth (No. 1 Western Division) and Y-D in its next two games.
Balta’s red-hot bat
A.J. Balta (Oregon) is batting .324 since July 21, and notched two hits in Monday’s victory. Balta’s two hits accounted for three Kettleers runs en route to the 5-1 victory over the Harbor Hawks.
“(I’m) just seeing the ball well. (Players) have our games where we see it well and those were we go 0-for,” Balta said. “I just took advantage of the pitches I swung at.”
Balta has nine RBIs since July 21, and five extra base hits. He’s seen himself slide into the second base role, since Clay Fisher (Uc Santa Barbara) left with an injury and Ryan Hagan (Mercer) moved to shortstop. Balta started the season as a primary outfielder, but was a first baseman at Oregon.
Outlook against Yarmouth-Dennis
Probables: Cotuit: Ross Achter (Toledo) Y-D: TBA
Number to know: 10 — Y-D has 10 players batting over .250, four of which are batting over .300. Cotuit has just three players batting over .250, only one of which (Quinn Brodey (Stanford)) is batting over .300.
Y-D leads the 2016 series, 2-1
June 17: Y-D 3 – 2 Cotuit
The Red Sox slighted Cotuit, 3-2, in a walk-off win at Red Wilson field in Yarmouth on June 17. The Kettleers posted five hits, Y-D had 13. Eddie Muhl (George Washington) was the starter that day for Cotuit, and allowed one run on seven hits in four-and-two-thirds innings pitched. Ryan Rigby (Mississippi State) got the loss in the final inning after allowing a walk off single to Brendan Skidmore (Binghamton).
June 25: Cotuit 6 – 3 Y-D
Cotuit scored four runs in the first inning on June 25 en route to a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox at Lowell Park. The win was earned by relief pitcher Taylor Lehman (Penn State) who threw the final five innings of the game, allowing no runs on no hits. Ross Achter (Toledo) started the game, allowing all three Y-D runs on five hits. Brodey had two doubles in the Kettleer victory and Cory Voss added another. Alonzo Jones Jr. (Vanderbilt) walked twice and added a single, scoring all three times he was on base for Cotuit.
July 21: Y-D 12 – 2 Cotuit
Y-D notched 18 hits on July 21 and dominated the Kettleers, 12-2 at Lowell Park. It was Cotuit starter Colton Hock’s (Stanford) worst perormance of the season, as he allowed six runs on nine hits in just four innings for the Kettleers. Jacob Erickson (San Diego State) saw his first appearance for Cotuit in relief, allowing four more runs on four hits in two and two-thirds innings. Cotuit was stifled offfensively by Y-D started Will Montgomerie (UConn), who allowed just one run in six and two-thirds innings and earned the win for the Red Sox.
The Kettleers need an all-around pitching performance to win Tuesday night. It will likely be a committee night for Cotuit, with head coach Mike Roberts using three or four different arms, but the attack will need to be well rounded to stymie Y-D’s hot bats. Cotuit also needs to lead by more than two runs by the final innings of the game; the Kettleers are 2-12 in one-run games, and tend to win more when they have a comfortable lead for their relief pitchers to hold.
Offensively, as much as Roberts wants the team to control its own offense, he will need to take control and call for small ball for much of the night. Cotuit has had a problem stranding runners in scoring position, and will need to capitalize Tuesday if it hopes to pull out a victory. That said, big hitters like Brodey (3 HR on the season), Jordan Pearce (Nevada) (2 HR on the season) and Balta (2 HR on the season) shouldn’t be afraid to swing for the fences; Red Wilson field is no deeper than 354 ft. to any field, so a hard hit ball could find its way out of the ballpark rather easily.