Produced by Cierra Jordan
June 27, 2017
HARWICH – With two outs and runners on second and third, Harwich’s Jordan Verdon (San Diego State) lined a ground ball up the middle, towards second base. Cotuit had seen this before; tip-toeing the line between escaping dangerous jams and giving up that one “big inning.”
Verdon hit the ball hard. It should have been hard enough to clear the infield, but it didn’t. Chandler Avant (Alabama) swooped in, diving to the ground for the scoop. He quickly bobbled the ball, as Verdon raced down the first base line. Falling backwards on his right foot, Avant rifled the ball to first base to end the inning and prevent a Harwich score.
“It meant a lot to the game,” Avant said. “Luckily I was able to get the throw off in time.”
In a low-scoring, 3-0 victory over Harwich (5-8-1), Cotuit made several big plays throughout the game to seal the win. Despite not stringing a bunch of plays together in the road win, each play carried far more weight because neither team could put a run together.
Avant’s stellar defensive stop in the bottom of the second prevented an early lead from Harwich, keeping the score knotted at 0-0.
In the fifth inning Griffin Conine (Duke) walked before Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) advanced him to third with a single into right field. With runners on the corners, Roberts signaled to Cresto. The head man wanted to stir up one of his specials, the sacrifice squeeze bunt.
Cresto laid a soft bunt down the first base line, barely making its way out of the batter’s box. But Harwich catcher Bradley Debo (NC State) had to protect home plate to try to prevent a run, meaning that his pitcher, Jacob Billingsley (Mississippi State) had to field the ball. Billingsley and Debo didn’t communicate and both wound up trying to field the ball, leaving home plate open for a Conine score, and Cresto managed to reach first safely.
“He placed it perfectly,” Conine said. “First score in the first inning, with not a lot of hitting going on. It was perfect.”
In the seventh inning, Cotuit added two more runs by way of a Harwich error, and a Brett Kinneman (NC State) sacrifice fly. The first sac fly of Cotuit’s 13-game season.
“We hit when we needed to hit,” Avant said. “And we played defense all around the field.
The win was by no means pretty. The three runs came off of a squeeze bunt, an error and a sacrifice fly. Cotuit left 10 runners on base, two runners were caught stealing and the team made an error. But Zane Collins (Wright State), David Inman (Coastal Carolina) and Clark Cota (UNC Wilmington) combined to toss nine shutout innings, with Inman earning the win and Cota the save.
“All three did a marvelous job,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “There were lots of little things that came together tonight”
The team’s next game is at home on June 28 against the Orleans Firebirds (8-6), 5:00 pm. Cotuit dropped both games of a doubleheader to Orleans on June 26.
Terrin Vavra (Minnesota) saw his first action in nearly two weeks after suffering a concussion on June 14. He finished 1-4 with a run scored.