June 19, 2017
John Cresto (Santa Clara) turned to face Chatham reliever Dan Metzdorf (Boston College) in the top of the sixth inning. Cresto, Cotuit’s starting third baseman entered the at-bat 0-10 since his second hit against Falmouth last Thursday.
Cresto’s parents, Tim and Cecilia, flew in on Thursday from Encinitas, CA, and had only witnesses the doubleheader against Brewster thus far. Seeing his parents watching from the right field stands, Cresto desperately wanted to make an impact.
With the score knotted at 2-2, and a 1-0 count, Cresto attacked a low fastball on the outside corner of the plate. The Santa Clara product drove the pitch high to the opposite side of the dish, clearing the shallow right field fence for his first home run this season.
“It was really special,” Cresto said. “(My parents) were jumping up in the air.”
After struggling mightily at the dish to begin the season, Cresto was one of the lone bright spots in a tough 8-4 loss to Chatham at Veteran’s Field. The Anglers (4-1) handed the Kettleers (4-1) its first loss this season, tying the two atop the leaderboard.
Cresto began the season against Falmouth, earning two hits in his first two at-bats with two RBIs and two stolen bases. The defense remained strong over the next two outings, but the offense plummeted. In Sunday’s doubleheader against Brewster, Cresto struck out five times, only putting the ball into play once, resulting in a groundout.
Heading into tonight’s contest, Cresto worked for hours with Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts, fixing his stance. They worked to correct his first step and the positioning of his feet so that he could tighten his swing. This allows batters to get the barrel on the ball more easily and produce harder contact.
“I was flying open a little bit,” Cresto said, talking about his hitting against Brewster. “I was pulling my head off the ball, not seeing the ball too well.”
With eight right-handed hitters pulling the ball, Chatham kept Cresto plenty busy on Monday night. And he struggled to start as well. Cresto began the game 0-2, and couldn’t reach a ground ball to throw out an Angler runner that would eventually score to tie the game at 2-2.
He quickly made up for the play in the same half inning. With runners on second and third Jake Palomaki (Boston College) hit a soft chop ground ball to third base, an at-bat that normally scores runners from third. Knowing the situation, Cresto played in, fielding the ball well into the grass. He turned to third, forcing Austin Edens (Samford) to backtrack to the corner, and stay there. He then gunned down the speedy Palomaki at third to prevent the run from scoring on the play.
Unaware of their futures, temporary players constantly must impress the coaching staff to avoid being released. Heads-up defensive plays like the one that Cresto made, and has been making often, outweigh a slump at the plate.
But with the score tied at 2-2 heading into the sixth inning, Cresto jumped on an opportunity to carry the team offensively. After taking ball one, Cresto jumped on the second pitch, trotting to first and watching as he, and the entire ballpark knew that the ball would sail over the right field.
Another spectator found the home run ball and returned it to Cresto’s parents, Tim and Cecilia, who were seated beside the concession stand down the right field line.
“It was exciting,” said Tim. “It’s fun to have a memento like that.
Chase Cohen (Georgia Southern) ran out of the dugout, the first to greet Cresto, swinging his arm around in a softball wind-up and running excitedly towards the third baseman. Cresto touched home, looked over in the stands, with his parents sitting there, beside the dugout, cheering for their son.
“I thought tonight he was much more consistent with his base,” Roberts said. “When you’re a guy Cresto’s size, when you hit the ball in sweet spot the ball is going to carry.”
The Kettleers’ next game is at home against Bourne this Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. Cotuit is 1-0 this season against the Braves, opening the season with a 5-3 at Doran Park.