By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
August 9th, 2019
COTUIT – Most coaches wouldn’t have done what Mike Roberts did.
Kettleer players flooded the diamond, Kettleer fans flooded the diamond, Kettleer interns flooded the diamond. It was utter chaos, but in the best way possible.
As Roberts and his players engulfed the Arnold Mycock trophy, Roberts quickly ordered his troops together.
Was he going to ask for a speech? Maybe instructions for a picture? His own MVP Award? No, Mike Roberts told his players to all turn around, back towards the third base line, and give an ovation to the Cotuit Kettleer fans, the most loyal fanbase on the Cape, in return for their countless cheers over the course of the season.
“In the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings today I was looking in the stands,” Roberts said. “I never do that; I try not to listen. [But] I really took time today when the score was 10-3 to do my own panoramic. I just wanted to look, there wasn’t an empty seat anywhere, six hundred people there, four hundred here, two thousand deep and around the field, I have a lifetime picture of this championship game in this beautiful ballpark.”
It really was packed. The official attendance number was 3,517, but even that gargantuan statistic may have been underselling it.
Like so many times this season, the game got started off on the right foot by the simply magnificent Cotuit Kettleer offense. In the first inning, Matt Mervis (Duke) and Casey Schmitt (San Diego State) both had solo home runs to give the Kettleers the 2-0 lead. Keep in mind this was against Connor McCullough (Kansas State), a guy who sported a 1.05 ERA in the regular season.
Cotuit would then strike again in the fourth when Schmitt hit his second home run of the game. And while the second long ball wasn’t hit quite as hard or as deep as the first one (101 MPH, 392 feet), it still cleared the fence without much doubt. Donta Williams (Arizona) then singled home Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky) to extend the Cotuit lead to 4-0 in the fourth.
But, for those expecting Harwich to fold over and die, they were in for a rude awakening. Riley Tirotta (Dayton) hit a home run to begin the inning, cutting the lead to 4-1, and Niko Kavadas (Notre Dame) followed up the smash with one of his own, cutting the lead to 4-2 in the process.
Like all season, however, Cotuit beared down offensively when they needed it the most. The fifth inning spelled the end for Harwich, as the Cotuit offense exploded for six runs off of six hits. With hits from the likes of Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina), Adam Oviedo (Oral Roberts), Cody Pasic (Maine) and Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State), the Kettleers simply couldn’t be stopped.
The top of the seventh inning spelled the end of the night for Sean Sullivan (Cal), who pitched six and one third innings with five strikeouts and three earned runs.
While not his finest start, Coach Roberts was still thankful for his ace after the game.
“What can I say, he’s a freshman!” Roberts exclaimed after the game. “We needed him game two vs. Wareham and we needed him tonight.”
In arguably the two biggest games of the season, Roberts turned to Sullivan, a Freshman, and the right hander did not disappoint in either appearance.
While Harwich would end up getting another run off of Nick Jones (Georgia Southern) in Sullivan’s stead, the comeback effort was too little, too late, for the Eastern division champions.
After walking the first batter in the ninth inning, Casey Schmitt struck out Sean Harrington (Babson) before causing Max Marusak (Texas Tech) to lineout into a game ending double play.
Just like that, the floodgates opened, and players, fans, and everyone in between rushed Schmitt on the mound, causing (quite possibly) the first dogpile on a baseball diamond of the season.
For his efforts, Schmitt was awarded the Playoff MVP, an award that Coach Roberts believed he absolutely deserved.
“As fitting as can be,” Roberts said postgame. “He was absolutely deserving of an MVP trophy just as Nick Gonzales was. San Diego State said I could pitch Schmitt one more inning after Wareham, one more inning, and my prayer all week was ‘I want Casey Schmitt on the mound to win the Cape League championship.”
The postgame scene was special, with players, interns, and family members alike shedding tears, happy tears, as Cotuit picked up its first championship since 2013. Yet, the most emotional guy on the diamond, Coach Roberts, remained (relatively) composed.
Some would say he ran out of tears from the dramatic playoff run.
Others would say he just wasn’t all that surprised after watching these guys play for the past two months.
“They wanted to win for this community,” Roberts said postgame. “They loved Cotuit, they loved going to Cotuit grocery to eat every single day, and they loved their host families. To go with that, they wanted to win badly for Chris Holcomb (Tulane) and Cody Pasic, two great young men who grew up right here and spent the entire 2019 year with the team.”
So, did we get a dramatic walk-off in the fifteenth inning like we saw last night? No.
Did we see a come from behind victory like we saw against Falmouth (game two) or Harwich (game one)? No.
Did we see a darn fine baseball team that played for each other and etched themselves into the baseball history books this summer?
I think we did.