By Will Kraus, Bates College
Video By Jacob Cohen, Boston University
COTUIT MA – At Lowell Park on Saturday Cotuit held on for a 7-5 victory over the Harwich Mariners (1-3) to improve to 4-1, the best record in the Cape Cod Baseball League to date.
It was a lovely but windy June evening in the bottom of the fifth inning when Oraj Anu (Kentucky University) stepped into the right side of the batter’s box with left-hander Blake Espinal (Seton Hall) on the mound.
The prior at bat featured an awkward moment when a ball appeared to hit Mason Dodd (Belmont Abbey) but was ruled foul. Dodd however fought back to earn a seven pitch walk.
That set the table for Anu, the designated hitter batting fourth in the line-up who three nights previous hit a monstrous home run 430 feet to right field batting left-handed in Hyannis.
The Kettleers led 5-2 and the count was 1-0 with two outs. Dodd took a lead that would moments later prove unnecessary as Espinal stared for a signal beneath the glove of Harwich’s catcher Matt Oldham (Elon University). Accepting the fastball Espinal sent a ball aimed directly for Oldham’s glove.
The baseball didn’t reach Oldham’s glove but instead found itself roughly 440 feet away as Anu absolutely crushed it over the fence, over the scoreboard and deep into the woods in left-center field. It was a windy day but it would have taken some kind of hurricane to keep Anu’s shot in Lowell Park.
As the Cotuit crowd roared the Kettleers’ bench did the same, all cheering for Anu who quickly rounded the bases to celebrate with Dodd waiting for him at home. The two tapped their helmets together before Anu went through a congratulatory line of teammates including his college teammate Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky University).
“It’s amazing.” said Anu postgame, his eyes lighting up with excitement when asked about the feeling of hitting a home run. “There’s no feeling like that, just sitting there and watching it.” Anu noted.
It was a similar scene following the game on Wednesday when another Kentucky Wildcat, Cam Hill (Kentucky University) sprayed Anu with his gatorade bottle in celebration of his teammate’s performance. Cam Hill went with a miniature version of an ice bath as he excitedly poured a few ice cubes on Anu’s head. Named player of the game, Anu’s two-run homer proved the difference in the game as the Kettleers went on to win by a two run margin.
The game didn’t get off to the start Cotuit wanted as Harwich’s first three batters walked, singled, and singled once more to grab an early 1-0 lead. The start prompted a mound meeting as Coach Mike Roberts strode out to meet with starter Jackson Wolf (West Virginia).
“I’m always kinda nice.” Roberts said when asked about the mound visit. “I just said that you weren’t ready to pitch.” Roberts’ visit seemed to work wonders as Wolf wouldn’t allow another hit over four very impressive innings.
“He made a very good adjustment.” Roberts said of Wolf. “I’m very proud of the adjustment he made like a really good college pitcher and heading towards a professional pitcher.”
Nevertheless the Kettleers found themselves behind after allowing two runs in the first inning twice in two days. Just as they did yesterday against Brewster and really every game so far, the Kettleers responded with great resiliency in the bottom of the first.
Left-handed Hill who has found a home in the lead off spot for the Kettleers immediately reached on a ball that hit him in his right shoulder. Hill smiled on his way to first, a very similar reaction to Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State University) who smiled after taking a curveball in the back to score the Kettleers’ first run with the bases loaded on Friday.
Gonzales smashed a ball on a line off of Harwich starter Nick Stewart (James Madison University) that unfortunately went right to Mariners’ third baseman Cameron Thompson (Kansas State University).
With one out Mason Dodd hit a dribbler on the right infield grass that first baseman Niko Kavadas (Notre Dame) scooped up and fired to Harwich’s shortstop Brian Dempsey (Boston College) at second to record the second out of the first. Dodd beat out the throw to double him off at first but awkwardly collided with Harwich second baseman Eduardo Malinowski (Pennsylvania) as he sprinted past the bag. Luckily both players remained in the game.
Anu singled on a hard hit ball between first and second into right bringing up Kessler with two out and two on. Kessler tripled after battling through a seven pitch at bat and tied the game up by crushing a ball in the gap between left and center that allowed the runners to score. The Cotuit catcher had tied the game 2-2 after one inning.
Wolf cruised through a one-two-three inning allowing the Kettleers to grab a 3-2 lead in the second inning after Hill’s rope into right allowed Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina) to score his second run of the season in his second game for Cotuit.
Cotuit wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
Roberts cautioned the consistent pattern of having to come from behind, saying “that’s probably not gonna happen later on in the season when everybody is here that’s supposed to be here.” It’s a consistent message Roberts has reiterated in post games that as more players come to the Cape following their college seasons the league will get tougher.
That isn’t to diminish the incredible track record Cotuit has this season, coming behind in three of their four wins.
Roberts did also say “Am I very appreciative of the way this team has come back? Without a doubt.” the long-time Cotuit coach said with a grin.
Camryn Williams (Texas University) got the crowd going in the fourth with a two-run shot deep into the trees over the head of Chris Galland (Boston College) in right.
Harwich attempted to make a comeback scoring one in the sixth and two in the eighth but Cotuit held the Mariners off. Marstons Mills native Christopher Holcomb (Tulane University), Bo Hofstra (Purdue), and Kyle Nicolas (Ball State) pitched the final five innings to seal a 7-5 win for the Kettleers.
Kyle Nicolas impressed on the radar gun once again in his second outing for the Kettleers. Nicolas hit a team high 98 mph in the top of the eighth.
The Kettleers travel to Red Wilson Field for a double-header against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (2-2) on Sunday. The first pitches are scheduled for 2 PM and 5 PM.