By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
June 11, 2019
COTUIT MA – Following an opener in which the home bleachers could only be described as “overflowing,” game two in Cotuit featured a far milder crowd to begin the night. Not that this was Cotuit’s fault, of course, but rather the workings of Mother Nature, bringing in a heavy dose of rain in the morning to flood Lowell Park’s infield.
But while Hyannis, Falmouth, and Harwich all succumbed to the rain, Cotuit used their hardworking field maintenance unit to make sure the game was played. And by “hardworking field maintenance unit”, I of course mean Coach Mike Roberts.
“Makes me feel young again,” Roberts mused as he flashed a smile at some home supporters.
The longtime Kettleers skipper was moving like a ten-man unit, working on the infield, barking orders to his pitchers, and prepping for the game in what could only be described as a “masterful” showing of multi-tasking.
In response, Mother Nature showed her appreciation, with the sun creeping out behind the clouds about fifteen minutes before game time.
Getting the start for the Kettleers was Evan Justice, an NC State junior coming off a 4-0 season for the Wolfpack.
He was doing battle with Jack Conlon, a San Jacinto junior getting the start for the Chatham Anglers.
Cotuit jumped out to an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a Mike Schmitt (San Diego State) sacrifice fly. The fly scored Cam Hill (Kentucky), who was up from the 8-hole in game one to lead off the game for the Kettleers in this one. He rewarded Coach Roberts by smacking a single to set up the scoring in the first for Cotuit.
With Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) on second, Oraj Anu (Kentucky) laced a single into the outfield to plate the speedy “Gonzo”. As Gonzales rounded third and sprinted towards home, Adam Oviedo (TCU) motioned for Nick to slide, getting low on the dirt and waving his arms emphatically. As Gonzales beat the throw, Oviedo gave him a congratulatory high five and shouts of encouragement. Gonzales dusted himself off and walked
back towards the dugout, where Cam Hill was standing there to greet him, giving Gonzales a huge smile and high-five as the two made their way back to the dugout.
The next inning, Gonzales continued his “Player of the Game” campaign by launching a two-run homer to right field.
“It was a great experience,” Gonzales said. “I was looking for a pitch to hit and I got one. I was just trying to fight and put it in play with two strikes, and I was able to hit it. I didn’t think it was going to go over and when it did it was just [a feeling of] pure excitement and joy.”
The homer gave Cotuit the 4-0 lead at the time and was also the first round-tripper for the Kettleers on the season.
Chatham, being the good team that it is, did not go down quietly. As the game stretched into the later innings, the Anglers seemed to gain momentum as the sun went down. Following a Kaden Polcovich (Oklahoma State) double, a Jamal O’Guinn (USC) double and a couple of walks, Coach Roberts and Cotuit suddenly found themselves down 6-4 with just a few innings of daylight remaining.
“We struggled,” Roberts said. “We struggled big time. All you have to do is look at the number of walks (9) and that’ll answer your question.”
The Kettleers weren’t done fighting yet, however. With two runners in scoring position and Casey Schmitt back at the plate, the Kettleers third basemen delivered the hit of the night, driving home Cam Hill and Nick Gonzales with a two-strike single to knot the game at 6.
“[I was] Just trying to compete and hit something to get the runners in,” Schmitt said. “They were there for me to drive in so I just tried to get them in in any way I could.”
As the bat left Schmitt’s back and reached the center fielder, players and fans alike shot out of their seat in celebration. While the dugout and the home supporters behind the dugout were predictably vocal, it was the bullpen out in left field that really shot life back into Lowell Park, their cheers and hollers reaching the field with relative ease.
The lead was not to last, however, as the Anglers regained the 7-6 advantage in the top of the eighth on what had plagued the Kettleers pitching staff all night: Walks.
Much to Coach Roberts’ chagrin, the game was called in the eighth due to a lack of light, giving the Anglers the 7-6 win in 8 innings of action.
For Nick Gonzales, the fix for the Kettleers moving forward should be rather simple.
“I think we’re going to just play the game and if we can improve in certain areas than we will.” Gonzales said. “I don’t think [we need to fix] anything specific, I just think we have to come out and play baseball.”
The Kettleers will get the chance to come out and play ball Wednesday night at Hyannis (0-1). First pitch is set for 6 PM.