By Ben Fischer
University of Maryland
July 20, 2018
COTUIT – Notes from the Kettleers’ 10-9, eight-inning loss to the Chatham Anglers:
Floridian duo powers Cotuit
Most of the time, Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles are bitter rivals. But for the Cotuit Kettleers, combining the two Sunshine State schools was a key in their Friday win over Chatham. Shortstop Mike Salvatore (Florida State) and third baseman Brady Smith (Florida) carried the Kettleers offense over the Anglers, combining for four hits and five RBI in Cotuit’s 10-9 loss.
Salvatore opened the scoring for the Kettleers with an RBI single in the first inning. He followed up in the second with a two-run home run down the left field line, extending Cotuit’s lead to 7-0.
While coach Mike Roberts praised his Floridians, he added that he wanted his offense to be more consistent and deeper.
“They both hit the long ball, which is great,” Roberts said. “But we need nine guys in the lineup who are swinging the bat.”
Versatility key for Kettleers
Smith’s hitting made his day stand out, but he was also part of a lineup anomaly for the Kettleers, as he was one of four players listed as a catcher who appeared in the Kettleers lineup. While Garrett Wolforth (Dallas Baptist) backstopped for Cotuit, Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) played first base, while Zach Humphreys (TCU) was the designated hitter. The Kettleers have used a deep catching rotation with six different players appearing behind the plate this season.
Versatility has been a theme throughout the Kettleers season, as almost every field player on the roster has played multiple positions, often moving around during the game. On June 27th in Bourne, Salvatore moved from second base to shortstop and then back to second base later in the game.
Salvatore said that while versatility is a positive, the key to defense is a mindset rather than a physical trait.
“It’s good to know how to play every position in the field,” Salvatore said. “Learning all the positions is fine, but the key is fielding with confidence.”
Sharing is caring for Kets’ equipment
Kettleers’ broadcasters Sam Brief (Northwestern) and Sam Neidermann (Indiana) have made discussing gear a trademark of their broadcasts, having a particular affinity for batting gloves. However, as the season has worn on, the duo has had to do more detective work to figure out the source of players’ gear.
When Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) came up to bat in the first inning Friday, he did so wearing his navy blue shinguard that he wore as a Rebel. But, unlike in Oxford, Dillard was sporting white and burnt orange Texas Nike cleats and white and maroon Florida State Nike batting gloves.
Dillard has been the center of a thriving equipment exchange among Kettleers’ players. His new cleats were taken from outfielder Duke Ellis (Texas) while the batting gloves were provided by Salvatore. Ellis has intermittently worn Easton brand Ole Miss colored batting gloves gifted by Dillard during his time in Cotuit.
Dillard said he made the trades as soon as Ellis arrived in Cotuit. The equipment exchange has helped build team chemistry, as the players have left behind somewhat the rivalries they carry through the spring.
While Dillard may have to return to wearing Rebel-themed gear when he returns to SEC play in the spring, for now he will remain a man of many brands.