By: Matt McHugh
June 25, 2017
The Cotuit Kettleers (6-6) dropped both games of Sunday’s doubleheader at Orleans (7-6), and were bitten by a brutal third inning that proved insurmountable in game 1.
The Kettleers had tall left-hander Justin Hooper (UCLA) on the mound, and he got through the first two innings relatively smoothly, striking out three batters and only allowing one hit. However, things spiraled out of control in the third inning, when Jimmy Herron (Duke) dropped down a sacrifice bunt, and Hooper threw the ball into centerfield. Centerfielder Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) overthrew the ball back in, and the Kettleers committed two errors on the play.
“The game really turned around on that one play,” Coach Mike Roberts said. “We always talk about taking one out and going to first base. When the ball went into centerfield that really got away from us.”
A hit batter, followed by four more singles in the inning resulted in a six-run frame, and that was all the offense that the Firebirds would need.
“We have a lot of mechanical work to still do with Justin [Hooper],” Roberts said. “He has tremendous ability – he has major league ability.”
The Kettleers picked up their offense in the last few innings, adding two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings, but it was not enough to overcome their disastrous third inning.
Two of those runs came off the bat of Chandler Avant (Alabama), who hit his first home run of the season – a two-run shot to left-center field, in the fifth inning.
“I really like what I’ve seen with his bat,” Roberts said. “He fights at the plate really well and has good bat speed. He played three years in the SEC, that’s a pretty good league as you can see with Florida and LSU in the national championship, He’s got a lot of experience and I think he’ll be great for us.”
The Kettleers are in need of an everyday second baseman, after losing starter Ako Thomas (Michigan) to a knee injury earlier this week. After DHing for his first two games, Avant has started back-to-back games at second base.
“DH is fun to get to relax sometimes, but I like playing in the field,” Avant said. “It keeps you in the game on every pitch.”
Both the Kettleers and the Firebirds have Monday off. Cotuit will head to Harwich to face the Mariners at 6:30 on Tuesday, while Orleans will head to Y-D.
- Outfielder Griffin Conine (Duke) snapped his 10-game hitting streak to start the season on Sunday. He went 0-4 with a strikeout in game 1.
- The Kettleers came into Sunday’s doubleheader as the best defensive team in the league, but doubled their season error total from two to four on that one misplayed bunt in the 2nd inning. However, Cotuit’s .990 fielding percentage remains the best mark in the league.
- Chase Cohen (Georgia Southern) pitched 3.2 scoreless innings of relief in game one, and lowered his season ERA to 2.79. That mark leads all qualified pitchers on the Kettleers, and is the 12th best ERA in the league.