Produced by Cierra Jordan
By: Matt McHugh
July 14, 2017
COTUIT — The Cotuit Kettleers (14-12-1) have cooled off after their seven-game winning streak in early July, dropping their third straight game 5-1 on Friday night at Lowell Park. The Orleans Firebirds (17-10) have now won four games this season against the Kettleers, sweeping the season series.
“I don’t think anybody’s got our number,” coach Mike Roberts said. “Nobody’s got my number ever. To me, we have our own number. We’re a very good club, but we have to polish our skills in all areas of our game.”
The Kettleers were swept in a doubleheader in Orleans on June 25, and lost 13-2 at home on June 28.
The Kettleers had their opening-night starter, Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) on the mound making his fifth start of the season on Friday. Bilous had six strikeouts through the first two innings, but got into trouble in the third inning, with two walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases.
With one out, Romy Gonzalez (Miami) hit a hard grounder to second base, but Terrin Vavra (Minnesota) made an errant throw home allowing two runs to score. Ethan Paul (Vanderbilt) scored on a passed ball, and Jaxx Groshans (Kansas) followed that up with an RBI single to knock Bilous out of the game.
“All my stuff felt electric today,” Bilous said. It felt effortless warming up, it was just the command that got away from me.”
Despite the short outing, the six strikeouts were a season-high for Bilous, who struck out 10.34 batters per nine innings at Coastal Carolina in his sophomore season. He combines a mid-90s fastball with a sharp slider to generate most of his swings and misses.
“I didn’t even know I had that many strikeouts until the outing was over,” Bilous said. “The slider was very sharp in the bullpen, so I decided to use it more in the game. They were guessing fastball a lot, so I would dump a slider right in there and they would swing right over it.”
One of the main issues for Bilous continues to be his command — he walked four batters and hit one in his 2.1 inning outing on Friday. Bilous has walked 17 batters in 21.1 innings this season.
“He has first round stuff, but we have to continue to work on his direction, which is what he’s here for,” Roberts said. “We definitely have to clean up his work against left-handed hitters.”
The Kettleers offense was silent all game, with the only run coming off of a Greyson Jensita (Wichita State) RBI double in the third inning. The Kettleers finished with just two hits, five total baserunners in the game. However, Bilous believes it all comes back to the pitching
“It starts with the starting pitcher,” Bilous said. “If he doesn’t go out there and get a quick inning, everybody starts to drag a bit. As long as the starters can get quick outs I think we’ll be alright.”
The Kettleers will host the Wareham Gatemen tomorrow at 5 p.m. The Firebirds will host the Brewster Whitecaps.