By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
July 10th, 2019
COTUIT – There are many adjectives to describe the average scene after a good home win. Usually, somber is not one of them.
However, this was the case on Wednesday night, as what was going on in the dugout postgame was drawing just as much interest as what happened on the field.
In the seventh inning, with Cotuit leading 3-1 (more on that later), Casey Schmitt (San Diego State) hit a soft grounder to first base. Jackson Coutts (Rhode Island) fielded the ball and threw home to the catcher, right as Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) was gunning for home on the play. The catcher, Troy Claunch (Oregon State), and Gonzales collided at the plate, with Claunch hitting the dirt and Gonzales gingerly jogging back to the dugout.
As the attention shifted to Claunch from the training staff, audience, and players on the field, Coach Mike Roberts was immediately concerned with the condition of his star second baseman.
“Please keep it brief,” the usually upbeat Roberts said postgame. “You know, with Nick.”
As of now, the condition of Gonzales is up in the air, with the Cotuit trainer declining to speak and Mike Roberts unsure of what exactly happened.
“Just can’t put weight on his leg,” Coach Roberts said. “We just hope it’s not bad, I’m a little worried that there is a potential problem with the tibia/fibula, but we’ll just need to wait until he gets an X-ray tonight.”
Gonzales’s importance to this club cannot be overstated. His .326 average is among the best in the CCBL, his home runs (4) are tied for second on the Cape, as are his RBI (20). He also has thirteen walks and a .430 OBP.
Everyone within the organization anxiously waits for any updates, and we do to.
Not to be forgotten in the unfortunate situation was a strong performance by Cotuit on the field. Sean Sullivan (Cal) had far and away his best outing of the season, striking out seven Commodores in four innings pitched.
“It felt pretty good,” Sullivan said. “Tried to dial it back a bit, my off-speed hadn’t been working as well in the last couple outings so I stayed away from that. They couldn’t really hit my fastball, so I just kept on throwing it. Worked out pretty well.”
He did allow the lone run of the game from Kettleer pitching, but his start was still one of the best we have seen all season by a Kettleer hurler.
Allbry Major (Xavier) helped pick up the starter, scoring Adam Oviedo (Oral Roberts) in the third with a fielder’s choice.
Troy Claunch would tie the game with a sacrifice fly in the next frame, but Cotuit would answer again in the bottom of the fourth when Mason McWhorter (Georgia Southern) scored Joey Loperfido (Duke) with a double. It was McWhorter’s third double in the last three games.
Bo Hofstra (Purdue) was lights out in relief for the Kettleers, striking out four Commodores and allowing just one hit in two innings. The big right-hander was credited for the win on the day.
With Cotuit leading 4-1 in the eighth, after the Gonzales collision, they were able to add two more off of a Christian Robinson (Stanford) double, which scored both McWhorter and Donta Williams (Arizona).
Kyle Nicolas (Ball State) closed out the game with three innings of relief, striking out four Commodores and allowing just two hits.
“Just pound[ed] the zone,” Nicolas said postgame. “A couple hitters were worked a little differently but most of the stuff I trust my stuff against anyone else, so I just went with my stuff.”
Nicolas’s stuff proved to win the day, and he dropped his ERA by close to a full point in the brief outing. As long as the big righty can limit his walks (13 on the season), he should continue to be one of the key relievers for Cotuit down the stretch.
The Kettleers are back in action Thursday, facing Harwich (12-14) at Whitehouse Field. First pitch in that game is set for 6:30 P.M.