By: Matt McHugh
June 22, 2017
YARMOUTH — The Cotuit Kettleers will be without their leadoff hitter for a few days, but for a good reason. Outfielder Griffin Conine (Duke) was selected to be one of six participants in the eighth annual College Home Run Derby in Omaha, Nebraska on July 1.
“I’m really excited for that,” Conine said. “My dad is flying out to throw to me. We’re going to try to make it seem like it’s backyard baseball again like when I was a kid, and just have fun with it.”
Conine has been off to a hot start for the Kettleers, hitting .469 with a home run and seven RBIs in his first eight games of the summer. He will have to be away from the team for about three days to participate in the derby. Despite his hot start, Conine was initially surprised by his selection.
“I was at home and my coach calls me up and says you’ve been selected,” Conine said. “I didn’t believe him. I thought he was messing with me, but it was awesome and I’ve been excited for it ever since.”
At Duke, Conine was named to the All-ACC second team after hitting .298 with 13 home runs in the 2017 season. Conine is a free swinger at the plate, and is not too concerned about any potential damaging effects on his hitting approach.
“That’s my normal swing. I’m just going to swing like I normally do and let the ball fly,” he said.
For coach Mike Roberts and the Kettleers, Conine’s selection is bittersweet, as replacing his production is extremely difficult. However, this is something Roberts is used to, as Conine is the fifth Cotuit Kettleer selected in the history of the College Home Run Derby. Tres Barrera (Texas), Daniel Aldrich (College of Charleston), Victor Roache (Georgia Southern), and Paul Hoilman (East Tennessee State) are the previous participants. Barrera, Aldrich and Hoilman all won the Derby, while Roache was a runner-up.
“I have no idea if they come looking at our club or what happens, but I’m excited for him,” Roberts said. “It does hurt our club when that happens. That puts a big hole in our lineup. I want him to do well and I’m sure that’s something he’ll enjoy, but my priority is to have the club ready to go here.”
Cotuit continues their road trip with a game in Hyannis on Friday at 5 p.m.
- Second baseman Ako Thomas (Michigan) is heading back to the University of Michigan for further evaluation on his knee, and will not return to the Kettleers this season. This is a major blow to the Kettleers, as Thomas was the everyday second baseman for the first six games of the season. He hit .333 with a .529 on base percentage and two stolen bases in his brief stint with the ball club. Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) has started each of the last two games at second base.
- The Kettleers added two players to their roster on Wednesday: right handed pitchers David Inman (Florida Southwestern State College) and Brian Rapp (Boston College). Inman started 12 games in his freshman season and compiled a 3.15 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. Rapp started 10 games for the Eagles in his junior season, and had a 4.90 ERA. He becomes the third BC Eagle on Cotuit’s roster, joining first baseman Mitch Bigras and catcher Gian Martellini.
- The Kettleers have three players currently among the league leaders: Griffin Conine’s .469 average leads all qualified hitters in the Cape League, Dylan King (Belmont) has 12 strikeouts to lead the league, and Zane Collins (Wright State) has two wins – tied for the league lead.