By: Matt McHugh
June 20th, 2017
The Cotuit Kettleers (4-2) dropped their second straight game on Tuesday, as the Bourne Braves (3-1) won a tight one 5-4. Shortstop Zack Kone (Duke) continued his red-hot start to the season with another monster day at the plate, and he has settled in nicely as the everyday shortstop for the Kettleers.
Kone went 4-4 with a double and a triple in Tuesday’s loss, and his season batting average is up to .526 in his first six games.
With one out in the ninth inning, the Kettleers got two runners on base and Kone was in the hole. After Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) hit into a fielder’s choice, John Cresto (Santa Clara) was up with the tying run at third and the winning run on first. Kone was in the on deck circle as he watched Cresto go down on strikes to end the game.
“I definitely wanted to be up there, but they had a really good reliever in [Ryan] Feltner (Ohio State) out there on the mound,” Kone said. “He was throwing it pretty well, but it just didn’t work out.”
At Duke, Kone was a member of the All-ACC Freshman team in 2016, and has started 113 games at shortstop in his two years there. He hit .291 in 2017, but had only 12 extra base hits in 234 at bats. In less than a week on the Cape, he already has three extra base hits in just 19 at bats.
Kone started at third base in the Kettleers opener last Wednesday, but after starting shortstop Terrin Vavra (Minnesota) took a bad hop off the face, Kone slid over to his natural position at shortstop.
With the Kettleers, Kone has the opportunity to play with strong defensive middle infielders. Ako Thomas (Michigan) has made both the routine and flashy plays at 2nd base, and Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) is one of the best defensive shortstops in the SEC.
Although he made 20 errors this season at Duke, Kone has shown to be a solid defensive shortstop. His range and athleticism allows him to get to balls that other shortstops can’t get to, and creates more chances for potential errors.
“It makes my job way easier with Ako [Thomas] and Luke [Alexander],” Kone said. “They’re really good guys and we’ve meshed really well.”
Kone was also moved up to the no. 5 spot in the batting order on Tuesday, a significant jump from the no. 9 spot he was in on Sunday – a sign that coach Mike Roberts is aware of his shortstop’s talents.
“He’s played very well. He’s played great offensively and defensively. You can’t do anything but compliment him he’s been great,” Roberts said.
The Kettleers will stay home on Wednesday, June 21st and host the Harwich Mariners (2-4-1).
- 2nd baseman Ako Thomas (Michigan) left the game in the fifth inning with an undisclosed injury. Thomas was 0-2 in Tuesday’s game, and is hitting .308 in six games with the Kettleers this season.
- With Thomas injured, the Kettleers had to move around their infield, which meant moving John Cresto (Santa Clara) from the designated hitter spot to third base, and moving utility infielder Luke Alexander from third base to second base. That meant the Kettleers gave up their DH spot for the rest of the game.
- With no DH spot, relief pitchers Adam Scott (Wofford) and Christian Demby (NC State) each had an at bat. Demby has some hitting experience, going 5-17 with a home run for the Wolfpack this season. Scott, however, does not have a single at bat in his collegiate career. Scott struck out while Demby popped out.
- Jayce Vancena (Michigan) was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Kettleers. He went 1.1 scoreless innings, and leads the team in appearances with three, and has a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 innings.