Produced by Cierra Jordan
June 28, 2017
COTUIT —The Kettleers sat in the dugout, backs against the wall. Just assistant coach Tim Smith Jr. stood, perched over the dugout fence. For the first time all season, the dugout was silent.
“Just not a lot of energy anywhere,” Cotuit right-fielder Griffin Conine said, “Just takes it out of you, getting beat down. Today was a tough one.”
Nothing worked for Cotuit on Wednesday night. In the Kettleers’ (7-7) worst performance of the year, they lost 13-2 to Orleans (9-6). This drops Cotuit to 0-3 against the Firebirds this season. All three matchups have come against a left-handed Firebirds’ starter.
Jayce Vancena (Michigan) started the game off relatively strong. The righty gave up a line drive on the first at-bat, but forced three easy outs to end the inning. Vancena struggled though in the second. The Michigan product was forced out of the game without recording an out in the inning. He finished with just one inning, giving up three runs, five hits and a walk with just one strikeout.
“When you have to remove your starting pitcher early,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said, “that really creates problems. Our goal is to get five innings out of our starting pitching.
This marked the sixth time this season that a Cotuit starter threw three innings or less in his start.
Austin Kitchen (Coastal Carolina) came on in relief of Vancena and tossed four strikeouts in three innings of work, giving up one run. But that run wasn’t charged to him because it came off of an error.
The Kettleers struggled defensively as well, with a season-high three errors that led to five unearned runs. One in the fourth inning, one in the fifth and three in the eighth. Three different pitchers yielded runs Wednesday that were unearned. Until the ninth inning, the Kettleers had the same number of errors as hits.
The team as a whole couldn’t put the ball in play. Conine, Cotuit’s best hitter and the Cape’s best hitter entering Wednesday, went 0-4 with three strikeouts. Only four players registered hits against Orleans.
“They threw a lot of good arms at us,” Conine said, “and played the game a lot better than us.”
The only two runs came from a John Cresto (Santa Clara) home run in the bottom of the ninth inning when Cotuit already trailed 13-0. Cotuit put out a different lineup today, sitting Cresto until the ninth inning and Greyson Jenista (Wichita State), who dealt with a leg injury.
Despite all the troubles, Cotuit still trailed just 6-0 entering the eighth inning. Since Vancena’s early troubles, Kitchen and Brian Rapp (Boston College) combined for five innings without giving up an earned run, two runs scored off of errors.
Keyton Gibson (Georgia Tech) followed Rapp in relief, but struggled more than anyone else. Gibson threw just 1.1 innings, giving up five earned runs and six total. He watched from the mound as Stephen Passatempo (UMass Lowell) rocketed a three-run home run over the right field fence. Entering tonight, Passatempo was just 2-27 on the season. Tonight he finished 3-5 with four RBIs and two runs.
“You try to keep the intensity during a game like this,” Smith said. “It’s just tough trying to stay focused. Short-term memory. It’s a long season.”
Wednesday was a game of highs. A season-high in runs allowed, hits allowed and errors.
“We just got outplayed,” Roberts said.
The team will have an opportunity to turn it around Thursday night in its first game against Hyannis. The road game is set for 6:00 p.m.