July 3, 2017
WAREHAM – Zane Collins (Wright State) stood in the middle of the post-game meeting, opposite Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts. His arms were crossed and his smile fell straight as Roberts began talking. Just moments later, Griffin Conine (Duke) and Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) showered Collins with a Gatorade bath to break up the meeting.
Collins just finished pitching Cotuit’s first complete-game shutout since 2010
“That was historic,” Roberts said.
Collins’ shutout earned Cotuit (10-9) the 2-0 victory on the road against Wareham (8-11). This came just three days after the Gatemen shut out Cotuit at Lowell Park, 11-0. The lefty added his third win of the season to tie the Cape lead, and dropped his earned run average to 0.96, which currently ranks second in the league. Collins also carried Cotuit back to an above-.500 record, at 10-9.
Collins was excellent on Monday night. In nine innings, he fanned eight batters and limited Wareham to just seven base runners.
In a league where so many pitchers are restricted by pitch counts and innings limits, it is rare to see a pitcher delve deep into a game. Five innings is a quality start, said Roberts. Instead, Collins went the distance, throwing 117 pitches.
“I was not coming out,” said Collins. “My arm feels great.”
Collins opened the game strong. After giving up two hits in the first inning, he limited Wareham shortly after. Collins threw three straight 1-2-3 innings, while keeping the ball low and commanding his pitches. Only Steven Kwan (Oregon State) managed to lift the ball during those three frames. He flew out to short right field.
“It was special,” said Ivan Gonzalez (West Virginia), who caught Collins’ shutout. “He commanded every pitch with authority.”
The quick innings kept Collins’ pitch count low and allowed him to keep going. But as he got deeper into the game, the collegiate season comes into play. College coaches cap their pitchers with pitch limits to save their arms for the upcoming year. Approaching the seventh inning, Roberts and his staff began discussing if they were going to turn to the bullpen. But Collins didn’t plan on leaving the mound.
“He just kept looking at me like, ‘you’re an idiot,’” Roberts said. “’you’re not taking me out.’”
When the seventh inning rolled through, Collins retired Wareham with another 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout against Tristan Pompey (Kentucky), one of the country’s top hitters. Through seven frames, Collins threw 93 pitches. An efficient pitch count is 15 pitches per inning, said assistant coach Trey McCall. Collins averaged 13 on Monday.
“Usually in the seventh your arm is hanging a bit,” Collins said. “But mine felt fine.”
Every inning Roberts asked his starter if he wanted to continue. “No” was never an option in Collins’ mind.
“He wanted the seventh,” Gonzalez said. “He wanted the eighth, and sure enough they asked him if he wanted the ninth and he said ‘yes’ with authority.”
Opening the bottom of the ninth inning, Kyle Kasser (Oregon) jumped on a sinking fastball that hung out over the plate and drove it into center field. But Miles Lewis (Michigan) charged in and made a miraculous diving catch to keep Collins out of trouble.
Three batters later, the Kettleers swarmed Collins as he turned and walked towards second base. He recorded the first complete-game shutout in seven years. It was the best Kettleers’ regular-season pitching performance since Chad Bell’s no-hitter in 2009, said Roberts.
“You could see it and smell it,” Roberts said. “I just hope his coaches at school don’t get mad at me, but if they had seen him tonight they would’ve allowed him to do the same thing.”
The win evens the season series with Wareham at 1-1. Cotuit’s next game is against Falmouth (11-8) on July 4. The game begins at 5:00 pm.