By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
July 2nd, 2019
COTUIT – Emotional games are tiring.
I don’t care what the sport is, what level the game is being played at, or when the game is played, emotional games always take a little extra out of you.
What the Kettleers had on Monday night was an emotional win over Hyannis.
Record aside, Hyannis gave them a punch, and Cotuit countered the punches until the end. On top of it, Coach Mike Roberts was facing his mentor in Ron Polk, and the game was also on the three-year anniversary of his late wife’s passing.
After the game, Roberts laid it all out, telling Will Kraus (fellow writer, Bates College) that “the guys did it for her.”
Fast-forward to Tuesday night’s game and you had all the makings for a potential “trap game.”
On top of the emotional affect of the night before, the Hyannis battle also saw seventeen runs cross the plate, quite a bit of offense in just nine innings.
Also, Bourne was coming off a momentum-shifting win over Wareham the night before by a score of 6-1. Wareham, at the time of the defeat, was first in the western division with a 9-6-1 record.
To top it all off, Cotuit had not won back-to-back ballgames since June 23rd, a double-header vs. Brewster.
To best describe the fans and atmosphere surrounding the ballpark before first pitch, I would use the term “cautiously optimistic.”
The Kettleer faithful, some of the best fans in the business, were vocal and present like normal, but the lack of winning streaks so far on the season was lingering in the air: the fans did not want to be disappointed.
Bourne struck first in the top of the second when Henry Davis (Louisville) brought home Jackson Greer (East Tennessee State) with a sacrifice fly. For the second straight ballgame, Cotuit found themselves down in a 1-0 hole early.
“When you’re trailing,” Coach Roberts said. “And you have a mature starter like Joe [Nahas] (Georgia Southern) on the mound, then you know you have a really good chance of catching up. I think that gives the whole team confidence, [and] that really makes the difference.”
Coach referenced Joe Nahas, the starter of the night for the Kettleers. Though his day started out a little rocky with two hits and a run through the first two frames, Nahas shut down the Braves bats from the third to the sixth, finishing with a stat line of six innings pitched, the two hits, just two walks, and five strikeouts. The Georgia Southern product now sports a 1.50 ERA through eighteen innings of work.
“Since we had not played Bourne yet,” Joe Nahas said. “The scouting report was limited. I looked over it a bit and saw some tendencies in some hitters, saw a bunch of guys that could hit the ball, make a lot of contact. And that was what was true in the game.”
Helping Joe stay out of trouble was the rock-solid defense, combining for just one error in nine innings of play. Since a disastrous defensive performance against Orleans late last week, the Kettleers have been much sharper on the defensive end.
One standout defender was Joey Loperfido (Duke), who was playing first base on the day though he has been known to play multiple positions for the Blue Devils of Duke.
“[Fielding is] important,” Loperfido said postgame. “I personally like playing defense, I think it’s fun, I take a lot of pride in being able to play a bunch of different positions. I think it’s important, and I like doing it. [Just have to] play hard and make plays.”
The most notable defensive effort from Loperfido came in the top of the fourth.
With the Kettleers tying the game the inning earlier off of a Christian Robinson (Stanford) single, Henry Davis lasered a shot toward the 4-3 gap. With a runner already on, the Braves likely would have had runners on the corners with two out. Instead, Loperfido laid out to his right, snaring the ball and landing hard on the dirt between him and Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) at second. The play garnered a huge reaction from the Kettleer fanbase, with cheers and praise raining down on Joey as he jogged off the field.
The score was 2-1 until the seventh, when Matthew Mervis (Duke) doubled to right to bring home Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina) for a 3-1 lead. With Mervis on second and Loperfido at the plate, Joey took a 1-0 fastball down the first base line, scoring his Duke teammate and giving the Kettleers a 4-1 lead that would prove to also be the final box score.
“Felt good,” Loperfido said. “It just kind of feels that I’m settling in at the plate. Had a first tough week and a half, honestly, but I’ve made some adjustments and [I’m] just kind of settling in there and feeling comfortable. I feel on time swinging, too.”
Loperfido’s final line for the game was strong, with the Duke product going 3-4 with his first double, his first stolen base, and his first RBI in a Kettleer jersey.
Closing the game out for the Kettleers was Casey Schmitt (San Diego State), who went two and two-thirds, striking out four Braves and not allowing a single baserunner.
With fourteen hits, four runs, and just two hits allowed, it is safe to say Cotuit (9-7-2) avoided the trap from a hungry Bourne Braves (6-10) team.
Next for the Kettleers is a road game at Falmouth (6-7-1) Wednesday night. First pitch at Arnie Allen field is scheduled for 6:00 P.M.