By Matt Feldman
August 2, 2016
YARMOUTH – Yarmouth-Dennis had the bases loaded, the score tied at 1-1, and just one out on the board in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game. Cotuit, who needed a win Tuesday to stay alive in the playoff race, was watching its hopes to somehow squeak in slowly fade away.
With two outs in the inning, Joey Thomas (Cincinnati) finally broke through for the Red Sox, all but smashing Cotuit’s remaining hopes with a three-run double.
The Yarmouth-Dennis catcher crushed the second pitch of his at bat into deep center field. Cotuit center fielder Jack Klein (Stanford) stumbled back, transitioning into a full-sprint as the ball bounced into the bottom of the fence.
All three Red Sox scored, and in the blink of an eye, the game that was once a 1-1 tie and within reach for Cotuit was fading fast, now down to Y-D 4-1 with just two innings left.
After Cotuit stranded ten runners — seven in scoring position — and scored just one run Tuesday, Thomas’ late-game double was the difference maker in Y-D’s (25-17-1) victory over Cotuit (15-27-1) at Merrill “Red” Wilson Field in Yarmouth, 6-1. The loss knocks Cotuit out of playoff contention, handing the final playoff spot in the Western Division to Hyannis.
Just fifteen minutes into Tuesday’s game, Cal Stevenson (Arizona) mashed a two-out RBI-single to left field. It was 4:45 P.M., and the Kettleers were already up on Y-D, 1-0. And for the next eighty minutes, that score would hold for the Kettleers. Cotuit’s one run in the first inning sat atop the scoreboard in left center field as the only non-zero on the board.
And as Cotuit was leading the Red Sox by one, Ross Achter (Toledo) was cruising on the mound, allowing no runs through his first five and two-thirds innings. But the Kettleers offense hardly backed him up. Cotuit scattered nine hits through seven innings, but stranded ten runners on base, seven of which in scoring position.
After Achter allowed a run in the sixth, tying the game at one apiece, he was relieved by Connor Simmons (Georgia Southern). With the left hander on the mound, Y-D tried to make Cotuit pay once again for not capitalizing, putting runners on first and third in the seventh with no outs.
Corey Dempster (USC) had a chance to break the game open, lacing a chopping grounder towards second base. Cotuit second baseman A.J. Balta (Oregon) was playing in, and he sprawled for the bouncing ball, snagging it with his outstretched glove. He rolled around to his buttocks and hurled the ball home to catcher Tim Susnara (Oregon), who snatched it and laid the tag on a sliding Brendan Skidmore (Binghamton) for the first out of the inning.
But Balta’s play was fool’s gold for the Kettleers, as Simmons loaded the bases later in the inning with just one out. He would earn a strikeout on Connor Wanhanen (TCU), but allow a bases clearing double to Thomas in the very next at bat. The Red Sox went up on Cotuit, 4-1, and after scoring two more in the eighth, finished it 6-1.
As Jordan Pearce (Nevada) grounded into the final out of the game in the ninth inning, he gazed into the sky in right field, seemingly watching as Cotuit’s playoff hopes disappeared for good.