By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
August 4th, 2019
WAREHAM, MA- It was the bottom of the eighth.
The score was 4-1 in favor of the Cotuit Kettleers, but the Wareham Gatemen were threatening with two runners in scoring position.
On the mound was Casey Schmitt (San Diego State), who had already scored a run earlier in the ballgame for the Kettleers. Schmitt, even though tensions were high, looked as cool and composed as ever, with his right foot slightly behind his left foot as he awaited the pitch call from Cody Pasic (Maine).
Of course, the three-run lead helped his levels of stress. Two of the four runs came in the first inning, when Matt Mervis (Duke) smacked his second home run of the postseason as the second batter of the ballgame.
“You jump out in front, it’s huge,” Coach Mike Roberts said postgame. “You fall behind in a do or die game, it’s not easy to [come back].”
The scoring was not done in that first inning, however. With a 1-0 count, Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina) was able to rope a double, scoring Schmitt to give the Kettleers an early 2-0 lead.
Wareham would answer the next half-inning. With Jacob Teter (Florida Southern) on second, Adrian Del Castillo (Miami) smacked a single to score the large first baseman from second. After one, Cotuit had a slight one run advantage.
With the score still 2-1 and the Cotuit bats being quieted by Brandon Pfaadt (Bellamine), a huge moment came in the bottom of the fourth.
Dallas Beaver (South Carolina) singled, which ended the night of Cotuit starter Nick Jones (Georgia Southern).
“After meeting Nick,” Roberts said postgame. “I just thought he is a very mature young man. And as I sat alone at the cottage last night, I thought: ‘who’s the best guy to get us there?’ I just felt like he was the right guy.”
Few would doubt Roberts’ decision after the game, as Jones went three innings and allowed just a run on five hits. In his first career start (college and the CCBL), it was a wonderful performance from the lefty.
Inheriting the tough situation was Harrison Cohen (George Washington). The first pitch from Cohen got past Pasic, moving Beaver to second. Matt McClain (UCLA) then moved Beaver to third on a sacrifice bunt. With a runner on third and one out, Cohen was able to bear down, getting Trey Lipscomb (Tennessee) to ground out and Chad Stevens (Portland) to strike out.
At the end of four, it was still 2-1.
Cotuit added another one in the next frame, with Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky) drawing a walk with the bases loaded to score Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State). Then, in the sixth, Pasic was able to score Adam Oviedo (Oral Roberts) on a sacrifice fly to left field.
The seventh and top of the eighth inning passed, and now we are back at the moment that was highlighted earlier.
Schmitt peered in at Pasic and nodded his head as big Adrian Del Castillo lumbered up to the dish. The catcher already had an RBI earlier in the contest, and now had a chance to tie the game with one mighty swing of his bat. Del Castillo dug in, stared at Schmitt, and got into his stance.
It only took one pitch to sit down the threat, with Del Castillo taking a first pitch fastball to left field. Chavers was there though and fired the ball back into Pasic at home to keep Matthew Rudick (San Diego State) from scoring.
With two out and two on, Schmitt then struck out Dallas Beaver to neutralize the threat. As Beaver swung and missed, Schmitt released a roar that excited both his teammates and the fans behind the dugout, bringing them to their feet.
“Casey is so comfortable on the mound,” Roberts said postgame. “In all my years of doing this, I think [Schmitt] is one of the top five competitors I’ve ever coached. He is fierce, and he is out here to win.”
The Gatemen went quietly in the ninth, and it was celebration time for the Kettleers as fans erupted in cheers, knowing they had staved off elimination not once, but twice, against a very good Wareham team.
After the game, coach was both emotional and excited for the road ahead.
“I can’t say enough about the guys who have been here all summer,” Roberts said. “I’m just thankful for all of them. I hope they will be humble in this, it’s a good accomplishment but I want them to enjoy it in a professional and humble manner.”
Cotuit will look to remain humble yet hungry when the western division championship series opens tomorrow at the #1 seeded Falmouth Commodores. First pitch at Guv Fuller Field is set for 6:00 P.M.