By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
June 15th, 2019
COTUIT – Jackson Wolf (West Virginia) looked uncomfortable. His hat was off, his head nodding as he listened to Coach Roberts on the mound.
“He may not even get out of the first,” a fan murmured from the visiting bleachers.
Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky) had his back turned to the crowd, the back of his mohawk protruding from his loose catcher’s cap. Behind Wolf and Roberts on the rubber, the infield comprised of Casey Schmitt (San Diego State), Cam Hill (Texas), Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) and Mason Dodd (Belmont Abbey) covered their mouths with their gloves, likely giving words of encouragement to their struggling starter.
“The first three, four, five pitches to the leadoff hitter were all high and inside to his chest,” Coach Roberts said. “Right where he threw his practice pitches.”
With Chris Holcomb (Tulane) warming up and appearing ready to go in the bullpen, it looked as if Mike Roberts was ready to pull Wolf after just twenty-one pitches. Instead, Roberts turned on his heel and headed back to the dugout, leaving Wolf to work his way through the first inning jam. With two runs already on the board and Harwich pushing for more, Wolf was able to get Eduardo Malinowski to ground out to Cam Williams at shortstop.
Words of encouragement were shouted from the Cotuit bleachers. Wolf, though he had escaped the jam, still looked a little shaky walking back to the dugout.
“A lot of the first inning I made pitches where the ball was going up and in to lefties,” Jackson Wolf said, “and up and away to righties.”
Cotuit, like they have all season, answered in the bottom half of the inning, with Kessler driving home both Mason Dodd and Oraj Anu (Kentucky) on a full-count triple to center.
Wolf was thankful to his team for the support.
“Since I’ve been playing for this team this summer,” Wolf said, “I’ve noticed it can produce a lot of runs [in a hurry].”
With Holcolm still up and ready to roll in the Cotuit bullpen in the second, Wolf knew he had to pitch well in the second to keep his night alive.
“I made that adjustment on finishing my pitch and my mechanics,” Wolf said, “[I made] A couple other minor tweaks, but after that I really felt like I was cruising.”
“Cruising” would be an understatement. Wolf went 1-2-3 in the second, striking out two and getting the third Mariner to ground out to second base. This time, as he walked off the diamond, he looked like a guy who was ready to go four more innings, not a guy who threw thirty pitches in the first.
“I will say this, he made a really good adjustment,” Coach Roberts said. “I’m very proud of the adjustment he made and then he [looked] more [like] a really good college pitcher headed toward a professional pitcher.”
Wolf pitched two more innings after that, allowing no further hits and striking out another two Mariners in the process.
“Fastball felt good out of the hand,” Wolf said. “I think next time out I need to throw more strikes with my breaking ball and offspeed stuff, but I thought all in all it was a pretty solid outing.”
Wipe away the shaky first inning and what you get is not a “pretty solid” outing, but rather a phenomenal one. In the second through fourth innings, Wolf allowed no hits, no runs, and struck out four Harwich Mariners.
When Wolf left the game in the fourth, Cotuit had a 5-2 lead. The next inning, Oraj Anu hit his second home run of the season, a bomb to left center field over the Lowell Park scoreboard. Cotuit had itself a 7-2 lead and never looked back, thwarting the Mariners late comeback and taking the game by a score of 7-5.
After the game, Wolf praised the offense.
“There’s no question that every game you come out here you’ve got to expect these guys to throw up some numbers on the scoreboard.” Wolf said.
Wolf was ready to give credit to his offense for the win, but his perseverance through a tough first inning is really what set the tone for the Kettleers on Saturday night.
1 triple for Coltyn Kessler on the game, the Kettleers second triple in two games
2 walks for Kettleers pitching on the night
4 strikeouts for Jackson Wolf through four innings of work
7 RBI for Oraj Anu on the season, the most in the Cape Cod League
10 hits for the Cotuit Kettleers in this game, the Kettleers third straight game with at least ten hits
Cotuit is back in action tomorrow with a double-header at Yarmouth-Dennis (2-2). The first game is set for 2:30 PM, with the second game coming at 5 PM (tentatively).