By Ben Gainsboro, Stetson University
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
August 2nd, 2019
WAREHAM, MA – Ever go into a movie expecting a certain type of film, and wind up getting something completely different?
That is exactly what happened tonight in Wareham, when the Cotuit Kettleers (20-21-4) opened up the playoffs vs. the Wareham Gatemen (25-18-2).
Going into the game, it figured to be a pitching battle between two dominant arms. Cotuit was throwing Jackson Wolf (West Virginia), who sported a 3.03 ERA with 27 strikeouts during the regular season.
For Wareham, they were throwing Ian Bedell (Missouri). Bedell was arguably the best pitcher on the Cape during the regular season, striking out 36 batters and walking just three to a tune of a .58 ERA.
The respective offenses of both teams are both highly productive in their own right, but with these two big hurlers on the mound, it figured to be a 9-inning grinder.
In the bottom of the first, Wareham pounded Wolf for 6 runs, giving them an immediate cushion. The RBI came from Matt McLain (UCLA), Trey Lipscomb (Tennessee), Benjamin Sems (Kansas) and Dallas Beaver (South Carolina). Wolf was chased after two-thirds of an inning, and Cotuit’s bullpen was left to pick up the starter.
Bedell, meanwhile, cruised through the first two innings before hitting a roadblock in the third. With one out and Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky) at third, Matt Mervis (Duke) hit a grounder to shortstop, scoring Kessler and giving Bedell his first earned run since July 5th vs. Orleans.
The Cotuit bats weren’t done there, though. In fact, the fourth inning opened up the floodgates for the usually dominant righty.
It all started when Joey Loperfido (Duke) hit a solo shot to left to begin the inning. With Cotuit only down four, excitement on the away bleachers was running high.
Casey Schmitt (San Diego State) would strike next, doubling to left to bring in Cam Hill (Kentucky). Cotuit was now down just 3.
Kessler brought home Hill the next at-bat with a single, and Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) brought home Kessler with a double. The Kettleers were down just 1, scoring five runs off of the best starter on the Cape.
Trey Dillard (Missouri) took over for Bedell, but the runners on base were still Bedell’s to account for. This would immediately play a factor, as Dillard’s wild pitch that scored Adam Oviedo (Oral Roberts) counted as an earned run for Bedell.
As did Joey Loperfido’s single to score Gonzales from third.
After the top of the fourth, Cotuit was somehow leading the game 7-6.
The scoring stagnated for a few innings, in part to the wonderful pitching of Chris Holcomb (Tulane) in relief of Wolf.
“Chris did a great job to hold them while we got back in the ballgame,” Coach Mike Roberts said postgame. “It’s always a great thing [to see out of your] long reliever. Chris did a great job.”
The lefty shut Wareham down, striking out three Gatemen and allowing just two hits in four innings pitched.
The score would again knot up in the bottom of the seventh, when Adrian Del Castillo (Miami) doubled home Braiden Ward (Washington) from third. A great throw by Nick Gonzales on the relay, however, stopped Pete Derkay (Tennessee) from giving the Gatemen the lead.
Both teams got some runners on in the next two innings, but the pitching staffs of both teams were able to push the game to extra innings. There, in the bottom of the tenth, Trey Lipscomb was able to poke a ball to third base (with two out), walking it off for the Wareham victory.
In a game where Cotuit was down 6-0 before scoring seven unanswered, the loss was heartbreaking for the fans, players, and coaches alike.
“We just have to play as hard as we did tonight,” Coach Roberts said looking ahead to game two. “Yeah, just disappointing, and the players are more disappointed than I am, I guarantee you. Hopefully we’ll come back and play as hard tomorrow.”
Cotuit has a chance to erase the sour taste in their mouths tomorrow in game two at home. First pitch at Lowell Park is an hour earlier than the regular time, as it is scheduled for 4:00 P.M.