By Will Kraus, Bates College
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
August 7, 2019
It was the moment the Kettleers were waiting for, the moment every person who has watched Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) on a baseball field was expecting him to own Wednesday night at Lowell Park.
With Cotuit trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning and in danger of having to travel back to Falmouth for a win or go home game three, Gonzales, the Cape League’s MVP dug in from the right side of the batter’s box.
The Commodores had just brought right handed reliever Aidan Maldonado (Illinois
Champaign) to the hill after a crucial walk by Cody Pasic (Maine).
Gonzales got off to an early 3-0 lead in the count before Maldonado battled back to make the count full.
Maldonado wound up from the stretch, hurling a fastball toward his catcher’s mitt that would never get there. Gonzales connected, belting a towering home run to dead-center field, knocking in what would prove to be the game-winning RBI, sending Cotuit to the CCBL Championship.
It was the loudest cheer of the year from the Lowell Loyal in the third base bleachers as the Kettleers fans jumped to their feet in celebration of Gonzales’ massive homer and Cotuit pulled ahead 4-3.
As Gonzales rounded the bases his teammates waited to mob him as he returned to the dugout, smiles across all their faces as they swarmed Gonzales.
“You’re super happy and stoked that you can help your team and make the fans happy.” Gonzales said of the moment. “It’s awesome. That’s what you come here to play for towards the end of the summer, to hear Matty Ice (#1 Kettleers Fan Matthew Flaherty) and everybody yelling, that’s what it’s all about.”
Gonzales recounted his mindset during the at bat that led to his two-run shot as well.
“I knew with a runner on first and I wasn’t bunting, I knew they were gonna try to throw something low in the zone, try to get me to roll over into a double play.” said Gonzales. “So I was just trying to hit the ball the other way and I worked the count full, got a good pitch to hit and hit it hard.”
The All-Star second baseman also spoke on being named the Cape League MVP.
“Yeah, it’s an incredible honor. I didn’t really come here expecting to do that. I just came here wanting to make a name for myself from a small school and prove I can play and prove I can play at a high level. I’m just fortunate and blessed to make it happen.”
Gonzales has proved himself all season long and did the same on Wednesday as he went 3-4, just a triple shy of the cycle in the 5-3 victory, looking every bit the part of MVP with the most pivotal hit of the Kettleers’ season.
Cotuit will travel to Whitehouse Field in Harwich on Thursday for a 6:30 PM start in the Cape League Championship.