August 1, 2017
COTUIT – Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts knew once the ball left the bat it was gone. He turned towards his dugout and pumped his fist as Michael Toglia (UCLA) rounded first. Griffin Conine (Duke), Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) and Terrin Vavra (Minnesota) waited at home plate, as Toglia high-fived Roberts at third base, before touching home plate. Meanwhile, the baseball sat 406 feet away in center field.
“I knew it was gone,” Toglia said. “It was big. It felt great.”
Toglia’s grand slam gave Cotuit a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth, and it would be a lead that they wouldn’t give up. Cotuit topped (21-20-1) Bourne (20-22) at Lowell Park this Tuesday 8-6 en route to moving to within two points of Falmouth for first place in the west. Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit for Cotuit, as they finished with 11 total.
Cotuit opened the game with a bang. On a 1-0 count, Conine launched a home run over the right field fence.
“I had my sights set on a fastball knee-high,” Conine said. “That’s what I got.”
Conine’s leadoff homer moves him back to the top of the leaderboard in a tie for first place in the Cape League with Brewster’s Chandler Taylor (Alabama). Both have nine this season.
“I missed running the bases,” Conine said.
The Kettleers padded their lead in the second inning. Chandler Avant (Alabama) singled to center field to lead off the inning, but Bourne center fielder Andy Atwood, overran the ball, as it rolled under his glove and to the fence. Avant reached third on the error.
Two batters later, Zack Kone (Duke) singled to score Avant from third. Kone battled back from an 0-2 count before driving in Avant for his first of two RBIs on the day, and those two made the difference in the ball game. They were the only two hits in play that scored runs.
“I caught it really well,” Kone said. “We definitely need to take advantage when we’re ahead. Step on their throats earlier.”
Cotuit led 2-0 after two innings with Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina) on the mound. Despite high walk numbers, Bilous managed to keep Bourne scoreless until the fifth inning, when his pitch count ballooned and he began seeing hitters for the third time.
Bilous allowed two singles and hit a batter to open the top of the fifth. But with the bases juiced and no one out, he shut down the next two batters. Roberts kept Bilous in to face Bourne’s leadoff hitter Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist), who had walked twice thus far. Hannah took ball one, but ripped the second pitch deep into center field and over Jenista’s head for a go-ahead grand slam.
Bilous then walked Anthony Prato (UConn) before being pulled. His final stat line read: 4.2 innings pitched, four runs, four walks and five strikeouts.
Cotuit returned the favor in grand fashion in the bottom half of the frame, after a single and two walks, Toglia blasted his grand slam into deep center field to take back the lead.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a go-ahead grand slam in the top and bottom half of an inning,” Toglia said.
Toglia’s grand slam marks his third home run in as many days, giving him five on the season. That total is second on Cotuit, only behind Conine’s nine.
Cotuit added two more runs in the eighth on RBIs from Kone and Ivan Gonzalez (West Virginia) for the getaway score.
“The production at the bottom of the order has been big,” Conine said. “Up and down the lineup we’re starting to see it really well.”
Bourne mounted two more runs in the ninth, before Prato grounded out to third to end the contest.
Stephen Scoch (UMBC) pitched three crucial innings of relief, allowing just one run and striking out two. The submarine pitcher was just added to the team after winning a championship in the Cal Ripken League on Sunday.
Cotuit will finish the regular season with a home-and-home series against Y-D. Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox is at Lowell Park at 4:30 p.m.