By Ben Fischer
University of Maryland
June 12, 2018
COTUIT – With a five-run lead after one inning, the Cotuit Kettleers pitchers had plenty of room for error in their home opener against the Brewster Whitecaps. But starter John Baker (Ball State) and reliever Deacon Medders (Alabama) stayed sharp, keeping the Whitecaps off base and mostly off the scoreboard in the Kettleers 10-1 win.
Baker started the game shakily with a walk, but erased the mistake, picking off the runner at first base. In the bottom of the frame, Cotuit jumped all over Brewster starter Ashton Raines (Bloomsburg), scoring five times, highlighted by a two-run blast by right fielder Peyton Burdick (Wright State).
From there, Baker was in complete control, allowing just six hits and striking out eight in five scoreless innings. He ended his afternoon in style, blowing a high fastball past Paul Witt to end the fifth. Despite his seven-run lead, Baker showed his emotion, pumping his fist as he walked off the mound.
Medders picked up where Baker left off, striking out three and allowing just two hits in four innings.
“The key is throwing strikes, and our pitching set the tone,” head coach Mike Roberts said. “Coach [Jerry] Weinstein has done a great job working with them and they really set the tone today.”
Cotuit’s one major negative on the afternoon was defense. The Kettleers made three errors, two while Medders was on the mound, one of which led to an unearned run in the ninth inning.
“I wish I knew what caused that but I don’t” Roberts said, “but we’ve got to find out.”
Burdick was the offensive star of the game. In addition to his first inning blast, Burdick had a walk, a two-run double, another two-run homer in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth.
“Just being simple today,” Burdick said. “Going from metal to wood you’ve got to keep it simple.”
Roberts praised Burdick postgame, but also stated that he wants his outfielder to stay grounded.
“I want him to smile today,” Roberts said, “but tomorrow I want him to come in and get back to work.
Burdick was also a factor in the Kettleers hyperactive running game. Cotuit stole three bases, one each for Burdick, Beau Brundage (University of Portland) and Will Robertson (Creighton). Even when they weren’t running, the Kettleers were taking aggressive leads, often darting back and forth and daring Brewster pitchers to throw over.
Despite the aggressiveness and success, Roberts felt that his team has room for improvement.
“We can do much better baserunning and much better base stealing moving forward,” Roberts said.
The Kettleers will try to ride the momentum of the blowout into Wednesday, when they face the 0-1 Bourne Braves at Lowell Park at 5 p.m.