July 14, 2017
Cotuit – Griffin Conine (Duke) trudged down the stairs of the Cotuit dugout and threw his helmet on the ground. The Cotuit right fielder clutched his bat behind his head and bent over, before tossing his gloves on the bench and taking a seat.
Conine spent the remainder of the third inning looking at the ground in the dugout, after he flew out to right field with Gian Martellini (Boston College) on third. And the game only worsened from there. Conine finished 0-4 with no walks for just the third time this season. All three games ended in losses to Orleans.
“A lot of times they beat you,” Conine said. “But I just felt like I beat myself today.”
Conine was not the only Kettleers’ player to struggle. In a matchup of the league’s top two contenders, Cotuit (14-12-1) registered just two hits in a 5-1 loss to Orleans (17-10). This Friday night, at Lowell Park, Cotuit managed to get on base just six times all game, as the Firebirds’ pitching staff mowed down the powerful Cotuit offense. After going undefeated in seven straight games, the Kettleers now ride a three-game losing streak, and have been outscored 17-8 during that stretch.
Cotuit cannot seem to debunk the Orleans rotation. In four games against Orleans, Cotuit sits at 0-4 with just seven runs scored. Conine, the Kettleers’ top hitter, is just 1-15 against the Firebirds, his worst batting average against any opponent.
“They really do have better arms than any other team in the Cape,” Conine said. “They’re in first place for a reason.”
Conine is correct. Orleans’ staff is a juggernaut. The Firebirds lead the Cape League in nearly every pitching category. They have given up 21 less runs than the next closest team and 39 less hits. They lead the Cape in strikeouts, walks allowed, shutouts, opponent batting average, walks and hits per inning pitched and ERA, where they have a team average of 2.68. Orleans is the only team under a 3.00 ERA and a .200 opponent batting average.
Conine entered this game on a nine-game hitting streak, looking for his second 10-game streak of the season. But for the second third time this season Orleans ended such a streak for the Duke right fielder.
Throughout the 2017 campaign, Cotuit has ranked among the league leaders in offense, including runs, batting average, hits, and on-base percentage. But in Friday night’s affair between the East and West’s bests, the pitching dominated, as it has in all four meetings. Orleans is just one of two teams Cotuit hasn’t beaten. The other is Chatham (13-15).
“Nobody has my number,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said. “We have our own number. We need to clean up our own number.”
The Kettleers look to turn its offense around in a West Division matchup against Wareham (11-15-1) at Lowell Park on Saturday evening.