By Roy Reiss
July 24, 2017
The playoffs are right around the corner and the Kettleers, after missing last year’s playoffs, are back in the chase for the Arnold Mycock trophy. Interesting enough the Kettleers have 3 players on their current roster that have already experienced winning a championship, the NCAA Division One Baseball Championship.
Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) – “The experience of going to Omaha and winning the college world series is something that I will never forget nor will any of my teammates from that season. I have created friendships that will last a lifetime and when I look back on that season and specifically that last two weeks I will always remember the ups and downs but more importantly the guys that I play with. And the coolest thing about winning was watching the guys get drafted during that week and to this day watching them play in Pro-ball.”
Austin Kitchen (Coastal Carolina) – “Winning a National Championship was truthfully a bigger than life feeling. The feeling of having a dog pile on the biggest stage at a place you dream of being since you were a kid is irreplaceable and was the biggest high I’ve ever felt in baseball. The one thing I never realized was how much it affected our coaches who have put in over a decade, and a head coach that has put in 20 years into our program and how much it meant to them as people and coaches. The community and
Austin KitchenChanticleer nation was touched and they showed us how much we meant to them, how much Coastal baseball meant to them. That made it even more special knowing that fans that have dedicated decades to supporting our program have finally seen our program reach the ultimate high. Winning and coming back to Conway, South Carolina at midnight, seeing a couple thousand people waiting for us to get off a plane was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever been a part of, then being able to have a parade through the town the next day and see all of the kids and people wearing teal cheering for us made it that much more special.
Michael Byrne (Florida) – “Winning the CWS National Championship was totally a dream come true. It was all the more special winning with such a tight knit group of guys. To be the 1st team to bring the National Championship to Florida is something I’ll never forget. I’ve been lucky to have a great support system behind me for many years as well.
Memories – Great to see Bradley Zimmer having such success as the regular center fielder with the Cleveland Indians. Zimmer (Cotuit 2013) left quite an impression with Kettleers fans as he started the 2013 season at Lowell Park, left for Team USA, but decided to come back and finish with the Kettleers when his Team USA completed their season. All the former University of San Francisco standout did was help the Kettleers to the Arnold Mycock trophy that year with his steady performance. Most youngsters would have headed home after playing for Team USA but Zimmer came back to Cotuit and was named the MVP of the playoff series. 4 years later he’s making a difference at the Major League level!
And maybe even a better story is Chad Bell being called up to the majors by the Detroit Tigers at the age of 28. Bell was one of the top Kettleers pitchers in 2009 when he hurled a no hitter against Chatham. CAA Vice President Andy Bonacker points out that Bell also dueled fellow lefty, Chris Sale of the Y-D Red Sox in August of that year and came away with a 3-0 victory. Bell signed with the Texas Rangers in 2009 and made it all the way up to the Triple A level before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. Many years later Bell realized his dream of making it to the Major Leagues when the Tigers called him earlier this year!
Things That May Interest Only Me: You always like to look to the future and while it’s way too early and just speculation, Michael Toglia (UCLA) appears to be a shoe in to return to the Kettleers next summer. The first baseman is entering his sophomore season so he won’t be eligible for the Major League Draft in 2018 and most teams always invite a few returning players back for a second season … A couple of minor things got my attention during Orleans last visit to Lowell Park. Both the Firebirds and Kettleers had lead-off hitters from Duke University, while each team’s first basemen came from rival schools, UCLA and Southern Cal … One of my favorite Lowell Park moments is to see the reaction of parents of Kettleers players who visit Cotuit for the first time … Somehow former long time coach Brian Scott must have seen our little shout out to him last month. He sent along a beautiful family picture so we won’t forget him!
Quick Hitters: Baseball can be a maddening game to figure out. At the halfway mark of the season the Kettleers were leading the league in runs scored. Then they hit a road bump and could hardly score a run. How do you figure it? … Griffin Conine has to be one of the favorites for CCBL Most Valuable Player … Seems like every home game the wind is blowing out at Lowell Park … Congratulations to Coach Nick Calhoun who has been named head baseball coach at USC Lancaster Junior College in Lancaster, South Carolina. Nick will be leaving Cotuit to assume his new duties August 1st. Following the season pitching coach Jonathan King will join him as his new pitching coach … Having played over 30 games this Cape season, the Kettleers have yet to have the same lineup in back to back games … One of the unsung volunteers who has perhaps the most difficult assignment is Terry Moran, the team’s housing coordinator. Somehow he’s handled all the comings and goings of players without a bump in the road. By the way Terry is also responsible for drafting all those difficult trivia questions!.
Words of Wisdom: Our quote comes from Coach Mike Roberts after his team battled back to tie Hyannis 9-9 in a 3 hour plus marathon that featured four lead changes, three ties and 23 combined hits. “I was thinking this is really ugly, but let’s keep battling. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.”
Kettleers Korner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.