July 4, 2017
COTUIT – Chandler Avant (Alabama) read the pitch perfectly. He saw the ball in the dirt and darted for second base. Rounding second, he saw Falmouth catcher Joshua Breaux (McLennan CC) still trying to find the ball at the Cotuit backstop. Instead of playing it safe and holding up at second, Avant aimed for third. He slid in as McLennan’s throw sailed into the outfield. With the ball rolling through right field, Avant sprung to his feet and sprinted home to give Cotuit a 3-1 advantage.
“That was just aggressive base running,” Cotuit assistant coach Trey McCall said. “It’s just something you don’t see every day now. 80 percent of the base runners (would) jog to second base.”
Mike Roberts run-and-gun style earned Cotuit (11-9) a 5-3 win at home against Falmouth (11-9) this Tuesday evening at Lowell Park.
Cotuit stole a season-high five bases and drove multiple runners in on bunts and sacrifice flies. The Kettleers ran aggressively on the base paths, effectively advanced and scored runners and took advantage of Falmouth’s mistakes. The win puts Cotuit ahead in the season series, 2-1.
Advancing to the fourth inning, Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) led off with a line drive single down the first-base line before advancing to second on a fielding error in right field. Zack Kone (Duke) followed with a productive 2-3 out to move Dillard to third. Kone squared up to appear to bunt, but pulled back at the last second and hit a chopper right in front of home plate, giving Breaux no time to get Dillard at third.
Luke Alexander then put Cotuit on the board with a sacrifice fly to right field, deep enough to score Dillard and tie the game at 1-1.
Two innings later, Cotuit continued to threaten Falmouth with their legs. Mitchell Miller (Clemson) threw a low breaking ball in the dirt to Brett Kinneman (NC State). Breaux couldn’t block the bounce and the ball rolled along the Kettleers’ backstop. Avant darted from first base on Miller’s wild pitch. Miles Lewis (Michigan) easily scored from third to give Cotuit the 2-1 lead, but Avant didn’t stop at second. As he raced for third, Breaux (McLennan CC) rifled a throw down the third-base line for the tag, but missed badly. Avant got up from his slide and headed home to extend Cotuit’s lead.
“You can’t ever take a pitch off,” Avant said. “You have to stay locked in on every pitch in every situation.”
Besides advancing on the wild pitch and error, Avant finished the outing with two steals to lead all players. The two steals mark his first steals of the season.
“This game will surprise you every pitch,” Roberts said. “Chandler hustled and you never know what might happen.”
After Kone led off the eighth inning with a single up the middle, the rest of the inning was all Roberts-baseball. Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) singled on a sacrifice bunt, beating out the throw to first and advancing Kone to third. Lewis then laid down a perfect sacrifice squeeze bunt down the middle of the first-base line. Kone crossed home on his feet, and Falmouth reliever Zachary Leban (Kansas) stood by home plate bewildered as Lewis reached first and Alexander strolled into second.
Cotuit’s eighth inning featured two successful bunts, three stolen bases and two runs scored to extend their lead to 5-1 before Falmouth answered 5-3, and eventually fell by that total.
“The bunt game, stealing bases, it puts other teams back on their heels a little bit because it’s not something you see every day.” McCall said. “Most of the time you’re going to have to scrap for stuff. It takes no talent to run hard.”
Cotuit will look to continue their three-game winning streak on the road tomorrow against Falmouth in the second-game of a back-to-back against the Commodores. First pitch is at 6:00 p.m.