July 21, 2017
Chatham – Real life looked like a photo. Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) slid into home plate, his right foot over the base and his left leg crunched in. His arms covered his face as Chatham catcher Cody Roberts (North Carolina) froze in the air above him.
Roberts tried to leap over Jenista, contorting his body nearly parallel to the ground. The ball flew wide left of the two as Roberts fell over the back side of Jenista. Michael Toglia (UCLA) followed on the wild throw to score as well. During that inning Jenista stole second and third, and while stealing third, he reached home after a dropped ball into the outfield at third base and then a wild throw home.
“My legs felt great,” Jenista said. “Now they’re pretty tired.”
Jenista’s base running in the third inning was just one way in which Cotuit (17-15-1) overpowered Chatham (16-18) this Friday night and took advantage of the Anglers’ mistakes. In the team’s last road game at Veteran’s Park, Cotuit clobbered Chatham 12-3 and regained the top spot in the West.
A Falmouth win and a Wareham loss shifted the standings as Wareham falls to fourth and Falmouth rises to second place. Falmouth and Cotuit each have 35 points, but Cotuit has a stronger run differential to break the tie.
Cotuit’s lineup, one-through-nine produced Friday against the Anglers, racking up 12 runs on 13 hits. Three different hitters launched home runs and seven players drove in runs.
“That’s what you strive for,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. “It was fun to watch them play tonight.”
The Kettleers also capitalized on a poor defensive outing from Chatham, as the Anglers committed five errors to surrender five unearned runs.
Chase Shugart (Texas) made his first start for Cotuit, transitioning from the closer’s role. Shugart found himself in trouble early, but escaped jam after jam. When he exited the game in the fourth inning he finished with nine strikeouts and two runs allowed in 3.2 innings pitched.
Ivan Gonzalez (West Virginia) caught for Shugart in the contest, and had his best offensive day of the summer. Coming into Friday’s game, Gonzalez had just four hits, one RBI and no extra-base hits. Batting in the nine-hole, Gonzalez doubled in his first two at-bats and singled in his third. The catcher finished 3-4 with two RBIs and two doubles.
“I let it loose,” Gonzalez said. “I said ‘hey, I’m going to turn, and burn and swing as hard as I can.’”
Gonzalez sparked the offense, which finished lightning hot. Jenista, Griffin Conine (Duke) and Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) all hit home runs against Chatham, as Conine took over first place in the Cape leaderboard with his eighth bomb.
And Jenista continues to prove himself as one of the league’s top hitters. A 4-6 performance Friday raised his batting average to .340, the top mark on the team by .031 points. Since returning from a leg injury on July 8, Jenista has a hit in every game but one. In the win, he knocked a home run over the right field wall, stole three bases, scored three runs and drove in four.
Before the All-Star game, Jenista has already passed his totals from last season in hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases in 37 less at-bats.
“We look forward to going down the stretch with this team,” Roberts said.
Jenista, Conine, Zack Kone (Duke), Justin Hooper (UCLA) and Zane Collins (Wright State) will all compete in Saturday’s Cape League All-Star game in Warehman before Cotuit returns to action in a rematch on Sunday against Chatham. The two will play at Lowell Park.