Clara Richards | Washington University in St. Louis
A week out from opening day, the Kettleers began their preseason play with a commanding 21-1 scrimmage victory over the Lexington Blue Sox. After a close first five innings, the team offensively exploded to score twenty runs in the last three innings, and they showcased their potential on the mound while rotating through eight different pitchers.
The Kettleers got on the board first after a hit from leadoff man Cam Hill (Stetson). Hill proceeded to steal two bases, showcasing his speed, and he was brought home by a single from Graham Pauley (Duke). While the Ketts had runners in scoring positions later in the inning, they were ultimately unable to bring them home; a groundout closed the first inning 1-0. The Blue Sox immediately retaliated in the top of the second, and a failed diving catch in right field allowed the second hitter to reach scoring position. A single to center field brought the score to 1-1 in the second, a quick response to the Ketts’ initial offensive threats.
Then, the game stagnated. While Justin Miknis (Kent State) got into scoring position in the second inning, the Ketts were held hitless and scoreless. But in the sixth, after Daniel Brooks (College of Charleston) easily dispatched three Blue Sox batters, the Ketts stepped up to bat ready to work. Alden Mathes (Richmond) sliced the first hit since the first inning, and then a seemingly straightforward out turned into a run for the Ketts after an overthrown ball. The inning stretched out as Blue Sox’s pitcher struggled with command and holding aggressive Cotuit baserunners. Cam Collier (Chipola) had a particularly productive at-bat, netting 3 RBI with a double. He reached in four of his five plate visits over the course of the game, scoring three total runs. Max Ryerson (Georgia State) also hit a home run that went sailing into the trees. In the sixth inning alone, the Ketts scored nine runs off of eight hits, bringing the score to 10-1.
After Jackson Kelley (Mercer) sent three batters back to the dugout at the bottom of the seventh, both Ryerson and Caleb Lomavita (California) landed consecutive hits, and a walk from Collier loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly from Brooks Baldwin (UNC-Wilmington) — a player who arrived mid-game and stepped up to the plate minutes later — brought runners in, and the Ketts strengthened their lead by three more runs going into the eight.
In their last at-bats in the eighth inning, the Ketts didn’t let up in their commanding show of offensive strength. Ryerson brought in a runner with a long-hit home run, and singles from Victor Scott (West Virginia) and Mathes extended the Ketts lead to 17-1. A final three-run homer from Tucker Bougie (California) brought the final score to 21-1.
Ketts veteran Harrison Cohen (George Washington) started on the mound, and the outing saw eight different pitchers for the Ketts, allowing Roberts to get his first look at the arms that he has in his bullpen. “We feel like we have some good arms… but I feel like the arms were way ahead of the bats,” said Roberts in a postgame interview. “Their pitching staff showed us early in the game that we have a ton of work to do to hit left-on-left, but we’ve got a really nice group of guys, so today was a lot of fun.” Standouts included Brooks, who came off of his freshman year at College of Charleston and threw three consecutive strikeouts in a commanding show of accuracy. Closer TJ Brock (Ohio) also threw a competitive closing inning, his fastball flashing 96 in the corner of the scoreboard.
After the last official out in the ninth inning, another Blue Sox batter stepped up to the plate. “One more batter,” Coach Roberts insisted to the umpires, granting him one more chance to swing. A viewer on the sideline pointed out that there were three outs, and Roberts reassured her. “Hey,” he shouted across the dirt infield to the opposing batter. “I like that a lot. That’s a big-league swing.” Brock, unphased, threw a few sliders and then located a fastball to send the Blue Sox batter back to the dugout, the coaches laughing a little. It was the perfect encapsulation of summer league play— competitive, hard-fought, and yet not always too serious. The players on the field might have a lot of high-stakes matchups in their future, but the last at-bat of the game reminded the audience that there’s time for a little fun in summer ball.
The Kettleers play another scrimmage against the Martha’s Vinyard Sharks on Monday, June 6 before officially opening their season on Sunday, June 12 against Chatham.