Video recap by Jon Perez
By Jon Mettus
Aug. 1, 2016
HYANNIS — One Cotuit bat boy raised his hands over his head. Head coach Mike Roberts simply tapped Eddie Muhl (George Washington) and Jason Delay (Vanderbilt) on the back as they exited the dugout. Middle infielders Ryan Hagan (Mercer) and A.J. Balta (Oregon) slowly walked into the grass toward outfielders Jack Klein (Stanford) and Quinn Brodey (Stanford).
It wasn’t obvious by the reactions, but Cotuit (15-26-1) had just beaten Hyannis (17-25), 5-1, at McKeon Park to stay in playoff contention. The Kettleers are now a game and a half back from Hyannis with two games left in the season. Cotuit also took control of the Barnstable Patriot cup with the win (controlling the series 4-2).
Hyannis has lost six games in a row. The Kettleers have won three in a row. In order for Cotuit to make the playoffs, the Harbor Hawks have to lose out and the Kettleers need to win out.
“It shows the character for each one of them,” Roberts said. “They want to play for the fans in Cotuit, for the host families, for themselves. And they’ve just done a great job. I couldn’t ask anymore from them at all. Tonight was a great example.”
Cotuit starter Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) got off to a shaky start. It took a play at the plate to get out of the first inning and in the second Hyannis made him pay.
Bilous elevated a fastball with the runners on the corners. It tipped off Susnara’s glove for a wild pitch, carrying to the backstop and letting the first run in.
“We need another one,” a Hyannis player yelled from the dugout. In reality, they’d need more than that.
“A little rocky, a little rough I guess you’d say,” Roberts said of Bilous’ beginning. “Then he really settled in.”
Bilous wouldn’t give up another run over his six innings.
Hagan grounded a ball down the third base line in the next half inning that ended up near the Harbor Hawk’s bullpen, resulting in an RBI double to tie the game. Two batters later, Balta lined one up the middle, pushing two more runners across the plate and giving Cotuit a 3-1 lead.
When Balta hit another one back up the middle — this time a groundball — he added an insurance run for Cotuit in the fifth and closed the book on Hyannis starter Justin Lewis’ day.
“Everyone is realizing the importance of the playoff push,” Balta said. “People’s scope of focus is starting to narrow down and you can see this was one of our cleanest games that we played. Minimal errors. A lot of base hits at clutch times. I think people are starting to focus on what needs to be done.”
There were no displays of outlandish emotion, loud cheers or other reactions from the bench during or after the game. Just a bit a clapping was the peak it would reach. After all, the win was a start and the Barnstable Patriot Cup was sweet, but making the playoffs is the final goal.
Cotuit has two games left to take care of its business and hope for a little help.
“Discarding our record, we think we’re a pretty good team,” Balta said. “We just have to play our game. If they end up losing all theirs and we end up winning all ours then that’s just how it goes.”