By: Matt McHugh
July 29, 2017
COTUIT — The Cotuit Kettleers (19-18-1) inch closer to a playoff berth as they silenced the powerful Falmouth Commodores (20-19-1) in a 2-1 win at Lowell Park on Saturday. The Kettleers will clinch a playoff spot with either a win or a Hyannis Harbor Hawks loss.
The Kettleers picked up both runs on a home run from catcher Gian Martellini (Boston College) in the 4th inning, which carried surprisingly well through the brisk, windy air at Lowell Park. It marked Martellini’s third home run of the summer, and proved to be the difference in the game.
Falmouth’s only run of the day came on an RBI double from first baseman Josh Breaux (McClennan CC) in the third inning, but Cotuit starting pitcher Chase Cohen (Georgia Southern) retired the next three batters in order to avoid any further damage.
Cohen finished with one run allowed on three hits and three walks while striking out four. His season ERA dropped to 2.90 in 21.2 innings.
Clark Cota (UNC-Wilmington) was the first man out of the bullpen, and threw two shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts. In the seventh inning, Michael Byrne (Florida) came in and struck out the side.
“I don’t feel anything in the bullpen,” Byrne said. “I just get warm that’s about it. I have my slider every time and that’s usually my out pitch. I used my fastball command to get to two strikes, then keep them off balance.”
With the cloud cover over the field, it started to get dark quickly around the 7th inning. With two games called early due to darkness at Lowell Park in the past week, coach Mike Roberts altered his bullpen strategy.
“I have confidence in our bullpen without a doubt. In our ballpark, you just don’t know when the ceiling’s going to drop. I brought Byrne in just a fraction earlier because of that.”
In the eighth, Falmouth centerfielder Hunter Steinmetz hit a routine groundball to first base, but Michael Toglia (UCLA) missed the bag, allowing Steinmetz to reach on the error. Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State) singled in the next at bat, putting Byrne in a tough spot. However, after a sacrifice bunt from his fellow Gator Austin Langworthy (Florida) Byrne induced a popout and a groundout to end the inning.
“Stuff happens. I just had to pick up Michael [Toglia],” Byrne said. “I wish I could have faced my teammate, but I got [George Janca] (Texas A&M), and then the groundout which felt good.”
Byrne still has not allowed a run yet with the Kettleers, and his scoreless streak has reached 10.1 innings. Of his three strikeouts on Saturday, two were looking, and as a team the Kettleers generated six looking strikeouts in the game.
“I thought the umpire had a fair strike zone,” Byrne said. “I guess it has to be [Falmouth’s] approach — it got pretty dark by the end so it’s pretty tough for them to see too.”
Roberts added: “I thought for whatever reason there were a lot of called third strikes. Everybody thought the umpire was very consistent. Maybe it was just too cold…”
The Kettleers play the Commodores for the final time tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Guv Fuller Field.