By Joe Pratt | Baylor University
Wareham, MA — The Kettleers have trailed for less than an inning this season. It dates back to June 14 when the Bourne Braves took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. Cotuit then quickly eliminated the gap with a 3-run inning of their own and went on to win their third straight game of the year.
Fast forward to Tuesday night when the Ketts grabbed their eighth straight victory with a 5-3 final score. Cotuit struck first and scratched across four runs in the top of the third at Wareham starting with lead-off batter C.J. Kayfus (Miami). Kayfus, who beat out two grounders for base-hits last game against Brewster, opened his night with another infield single to second base. In his first game since returning from the MLB Combine, Chandler Simpson (Georgia Tech) snagged his second hit of the evening with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second for Zach Cole (Ball State). Cole followed with a bullet of a line-drive up the middle, bringing home C.J. Kayfus. Victor Scott (West Virginia), who also made his first appearance since coming back from the combine in San Diego, batted in the fourth spot after Zach Cole. Scott showed off his power-hitting ability with a launched ball that reached the left-center field fence. The center fielder earned his third and fourth RBIs of the summer and soon scored on a Justin Miknis (Kent State) rundown. Victor Scott’s run scored ended up being the winning tally of the game, a play that is in the Reporter’s Notebook. Coach Mike Roberts emphasized how having some key players return helped them offensively in game weight.
“Those are really good players. Chandler [Simpson] had three or four hits and Cam Collier (Chipola) had a hit, so did Victor, and they’re really good players, they run the bases great,” Roberts said, “We enjoyed having them back in the lineup tonight.”
The Gatemen responded with a big inning themselves but fell just short of the Ketts lead. Starting arm Daniel Brooks (College of Charleston) started strong but dug a hole in the third after walking three straight Gatemen and was responsible for all three of Wareham’s runs. Ethan Chenault (UNC Wilmington) replaced Brooks with one out in the third and let home two unearned runs on a groundout and a wild pitch. Chenault’s final line was three and two-thirds of work with four strikeouts and two runs on no hits. The Ketts carried a one run advantage until the ninth inning.
Ryan Ritter (Kentucky) holds the fifth spot in the CCBL in batting average, currently slashing .357 in 28 at-bats. The shortstop jumped to the second spot in the league in the home run category Tuesday night, adding an insurance run for Cotuit with a solo blast in the ninth. It was his only hit of the game but offered some level of comfort to allow the bullpen to finish up the night.
Chandler Simpson displayed his lightning-like speed and hitting contact this past weekend in San Diego. Simpson picked right up where he left off on Tuesday night by going 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and Cotuit’s only stolen base of the evening. After the game, Simpson explained how nothing changes for him between the MLB Draft Combine and playing in the CCBL.
“I’m just trying to show off what I usually do and what I can do,” Simpson said, “I’m just trying to stay consistent and just prove everybody right.”
Will Jacobsen (Harvard) and T. J. Brock (Ohio State) backed up Chenault and Brooks with three scoreless frames. Jacobsen cut down three Gatemen by way of strikeouts in two innings, allowing two hits along the way. Brock then trotted in looking to clinch Cotuit’s fifth consecutive road win. The righthander Brock made his third relief appearance of the season, picking up his second save which puts him at a tie for first place in that category. He also picked up strikeouts six and seven but faced the potential game-tying run after walking a Gatemen batter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. But supported by the seven players behind him, Brock forced a flyout to right field to end the game.
“I knew that I had a really great defense behind me and I’m a great pitcher,” Brock said, “so it’s just all about throwing strikes – throw strikes, let the guys behind me make the plays. I mean, at the end of the day, we have the best team so [if I] just throw strikes and if they hit it, my teammates will get the out.”
The Kettleers return to Lowell Park Wednesday night for a 5 p.m. ET game against the Falmouth Commodores. Adam Boucher (Duke) is slated to start for Cotuit and the offense will go up against Falmouth’s lefthander Grayson Hitt (Alabama).
by Clara Richards | Washington University in St. Louis
- When Ethan Chenault (UNC Wilmington) walked onto Spillane Field, the grey dust in the infield was incredibly familiar to the 6’5 pitcher. Chenault played for Wareham in 2021, pitching in eight appearances and 12.2 innings for the Gateman. While he had a positive experience with the team, he said it was nice to have a more complete Cape Cod League experience, living with host families instead of in dorms.
“It’s cool to come back,” he said. “But it’s nice to be with this team and not that one.”
Last week, Chenault also made a trip to urgent care after getting hit in the foot by a stray ball. Hoping that nothing was broken, he got an x-ray to confirm that his bones were intact. After a few days of recovery, he told Roberts that he felt good enough to be put in the game.
Walking into a high-pressure situation, with bases loaded, Chenault struck out three out of the first four batters that he faced. He pitched 3.2 innings and allowed no hits. “I thought I could have attacked a bit better, but overall, I’m happy with it,” he said. “I filled it up. And we have an awesome defense, so I let my defense work and just trusted my team.”
- With two outs, Justin Minkis got into high-pressure pickle situation between first and second base. With a runner in scoring position, the catcher spent enough time between bases avoiding the third baseman’s tag to allow Victor Scott to cross home plate and bring in the fourth run of the inning. Miknis was eventually tagged out, but it was a prime example of smart situational baserunning, working within the rules to maximize the presence of the runners on the corners.
TJ Brock has made three closing appearances for the Kettleers, and he is one of Roberts’ go-to guys to cement the last three outs. Today, he entered the game with a two-run lead and was credited with the save, striking out two batters and walking one. The last out was a long outfield shot that was flawlessly handled by Victor Scott. “I feel really happy that coach Roberts trusts me,” he said. “Knowing my teammates have my back is the best part. Coach is great, but if my brothers have my back, that’s all that matters.”
In his second year returning, Brock has fully bought into the culture and the team of Cotuit, down to his shoes. His custom cleats from Stadium Kicks have the maroon pinstripes along with the Ketts’ ‘C’. “I got ‘Only the Family’ on the side of the cleat, because, you know, Cotuit is family to me and I love everything about it,” he said in a sideline hit with Jenna Meyer that highlighted his choice of footwear.