June 15, 2017.
John Cresto (Santa Clara) spent his opening night against the Bourne Braves on flights from his home in Encinitas, California to Boston. First, the third baseman took a flight from Southern California to Phoenix, where he had a layover, and then a flight from Phoenix to Boston, arriving late last night.
This evening the Santa Clara product, who led off his college lineup this year, hit cleanup for Cotuit, recording two hits, two RBIs, and a walk. On the base paths Cresto also added two steals and a run scored in his Cape Cod debut.
“I was excited,” Cresto said. “I was hitting lead-off for the whole season (at Santa Clara) and hitting fourth was back to the old days. It felt good.”
Cotuit (2-0) head coach Mike Roberts was smart to put Cresto in the four-hole. The sophomore helped ignite an early onslaught that Falmouth (0-2) could not recover from, as the Kettleers topped the Commodores 10-0 in its 2017 home debut at Lowell Park. The offense erupted early in the outing, pouring on six runs in the first three innings, with three alone in the first.
Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk. After a Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) strikeout, Jenista stole second on the fourth pitch of Griffin Conine’s (Duke) at-bat. Conine sent the fifth pitch deep to center field, allowing Jenista to tag up to third.
With Jenista on third, Cresto made his way into the batter’s box against Falmouth’s James McArthur (Ole Miss). Cresto’s at-bat began the same as Conine’s. Each took the first two pitches, a ball first and then a strike, each then fouled off a pitch for strike two, before watching a fastball miss the outside corner to even the count at 2-2.
On Cresto’s fifth pitch, though, he scorched a line drive in the right center-field gap. Jenista trotted home to put the first run on the board, while Cresto beat out a throw at second for a double and 2017’s first hit at Lowell Park. Emotions soared in the dugout, with pitcher Kyle Kemp (Lipscomb), running out of the dugout and swinging his hands over his heads.
“We stuck to our approach,” Cresto said, “and attacked the zone that we needed to.”
Cresto made an early impact running as well. With Cresto on second, and having just given up a run, McArthur struggled on the mound. Two batters in a row had hit lasers off of him, with some spectacular defense on the first to prevent a big hit. The 6’7 right-hander walked Brett Kinneman (North Carolina State), but on the fourth pitch, Cresto took off for third, sliding in just under the tag to put runners on the corners with Gian Martellini (Boston College) on deck.
With a 1-1 count on the B.C. catcher, Roberts signaled for a hit-and-run. A fastball hung right in Martellini’s wheelhouse, and he lined a ball in nearly the identical spot as Cresto, who eased in from third for the second run before Kinneman managed to race all the way from first, extending Cotuit’s lead to 3-0.
“One guy gets a hit, then the next guy,” Martellini said, “It’s a hit rally. Everyone’s just feeding off of each other.”
This continued in the second inning as Ako Thomas (Michigan) doubled and came around to score in the second inning. Dillard was at first when Conine stepped into the batter’s box with two outs. The Kettleers continued the hit-and-run, with Dillard jumping off the bag, when the Cotuit right fielder rocketed a grounder past a diving, Willie Burger (Penn State) at first base. Conine remained at first on a single, while Dillard rolled into third easily. During Cresto’s following at-bat, Conine stole second for Cotuit’s third steal in the first two innings.
With runners on the corners, Cresto sent a chopper down the third base line, just nicking the bag to stay fair. Dillard ran home, with Conine sliding into third. Alec Bohm (Wichita State) scooped the ball, running to the outside of the bag, and made a leaping throw to first. But the throw didn’t reach first in time, as Cresto eased up down the first-base line with an RBI on an infield single. He then stole second on the next at-bat. After two innings he was 2-2 with two RBIs and two stolen bases.
Ten different hitters reached base for Cotuit as the Kettleers routed Falmouth pitching for 12 hits, and the Commodore defense surrendered three costly errors. Roberts’ squad added a run apiece in the third and the fifth innings, before it lit up Falmouth again in the seventh for three more runs in what would cap its total at 10.
The two teams only played eight innings, as by the bottom of the eighth inning the sun disappeared. While the bats fired on all cylinders, the pitching may have been even stronger, as Dylan King (Belmont) and Chase Cohen (Georgia Southern) combined for eight innings of no-run baseball and ten strikeouts.
“Our pitching has thrown strikes; our defense has fielded routine ground balls,” Roberts said. “If you do that and you do have some offense to back it up you have a chance to have a respectable club.”
The Kettleers are on the road again tomorrow night to face the Chatham A’s at 7:00 pm. For now though, Cresto is living in the moment.
“It’s been my dream to play in the Cape,” Cresto said.
- Terrin Vavra, who left the regular season opener against Bourne after taking a ball to the forehead, will be out the next seven days for concussion protocol.
- 10 different players reached base tonight against Falmouth and four players recorded multi-hit games.
- Even though Cotuit scored 10 runs, the damage could have been much worse. The Kettleers left nine men on base with the score 6-0,
- Cotuit had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the third, but failed to score any of them after two strikeouts and a ground out ended the inning.
- Dylan King struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced.
- Four different players had multiple runs batted in: Cresto, Conine, Martellini, and Zack Kone (Duke).