By Joe Pratt | Baylor University
Wareham, MA – Tuesday night, the Ketts held a 6-2 lead against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. But the Hawks shut down Cotuit’s bats and rallied to ultimately tie the game 6-6. Just a day later, the Ketts were faced with a similar foe. They held a 4-0 lead through five innings of play, but that lead shrunk to just a one-run deficit. The Wareham Gatemen put up two runs in both the sixth and the eighth to nearly relinquish Cotuit’s cushion. The Gatemen started the ninth inning with their leadoff man, Ryan Campos (Arizona State) started off the inning with a single. Continuing that momentum, the next batter lined a single to left, fumbled by Cotuit left fielder Josh Pearson (LSU), and there were runners on second and third with no outs. “I was just kind of running through scenarios. Like if the ball’s in the air, ‘What am I doing?’” Ketts’ right fielder Calvin Harris (Ole Miss) said. “[If the] ball is on the ground, ‘What am I doing?’”
Cam Schuelke (Northwood University) was a new face to the Ketts’ bullpen and delivers the ball from the side and the submarine angle. The first out of the ninth came off of the first pitch to the third batter. After going up 0-2 in the count to Wareham’s next hitter, Schuelke hit the player to load the bases. Coach Roberts then emerged from the dugout to discuss with Schuelke the strategy to close out the final batters.
“Once coach walked out, he was like, ‘Hey, you’re the only guy we got: you got you gotta go get it,’ [and] I was like, ‘Alright, I know what I have to do now,’” Schuelke said.
But with one out, the bases loaded and the tying run looming 90 feet away, the defense clamped down and ended the game on a popup to short, followed by a grounder to the middle infield – a simple toss from Caleb Ketchup (Lipscomb University) at second to Tommy Troy (Stanford) at short.
“We brought him here to be a submariner,” Roberts said. “When he threw a couple pitches overhand I wrote it down: ‘over, under, over,’ and then I said, ‘No, we’re not doing that, we have to go under.’ But obviously everybody saw what he did – he did a marvelous job.”
Far before the nailbiter that was the bottom of the ninth, the Ketts jumped out to an early lead. They brought eight batters to the plate in the second inning after going down in order in the first. Calvin Harris was the first Kettleer to reach base with a single in the top of the second. Eddie Park (Stanford) batted next and walked to put runners on first and second with one out. In his first Cotuit at-bat, Colby Wilkerson (University of North Carolina) roped a single through the hole between the second and first baseman to score the Ketts’ first run of the game. Wilkerson played and started in his first game of the summer and registered his first base hit on the Cape.
Prior to the frame’s conclusion, the Ketts had loaded the bases, and Tommy Troy notched his sixth RBI in his last 5 at-bats – a walk that scored Eddie Park.
Calvin Harris reached base in four out of his five at-bats with a couple of singles and a pair of walks.
“I just try to work counts as I could, and I got down in a couple of counts and luckily laid off some pitches,” Harris said. “I was able to get on and score a runner or two, and help us put numbers on the board.”
Cotuit extended its lead to four in the top of the fifth when C.J. Kayfus (University of Miami) and Tyler Johnson (Coastal Carolina) hit back-to-back doubles with one out. Kayfus easily scored from third after moving 90 feet closer on a wild pitch. Johnson crossed home in a similar way, but this time it was two wild pitches that allowed him to snag third and the plate.
Wareham cut into Cotuit’s lead with a 2-run bottom of the sixth. The Gatemen recorded their second and third hits of the night and put runners on first and second with no outs. This opened up the perfect opportunity to turn on a sacrifice bunt play. After the sac bunt was successful, and the two runners trotted up one place respectively, Tommy Troy tossed the ball over the head of Cameron Wagoner (Eastern Michigan) and the runner on third sprinted home, tallying the first run for Wareham. The runner on second ran over to third and proceeded to stride home on a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, another error wound up being costly. Wareham’s lead-off man charged through first as the ball skipped past the first baseman Tyler Johnson and the runner scampered into second. The bases then quickly filled up on a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Ground balls to second, then short, collected two more runs for Wareham, and they stranded a man on third.
Jalen Paden (Georgia Southern) started on the bump and was quickly escorted off of it by coach Mike Roberts after 0.2 IP. Paden issued three walks and lost two full count battles. Christian Little (LSU) was brought in with the bases loaded in bottom one and the right-hander fired a strikeout in four pitches, setting the tone for the rest of the ballgame. Little was taken out with one gone in the fifth and Cameron Wagoner continued the strikeout trend with two Ks to shut down the rest of that inning. Christian Little went 3.2 innings in middle relief, letting just three Gatemen on base. Wagoner was the only Ketts pitcher to have an earned run on the stat sheet after his 1.1 IP, giving up two runs on two hits. Ty Johnson (Ball State) was one of three pitchers to throw a blank slate. He too went 1.1 with no Gatemen touching the base paths throughout his outing. In his first Cotuit appearance, Cam Schuelke was thrust into two jams which he worked his way out of alive. He threw the eighth and ninth, giving up two unearned runs, two hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The Kettleers finally broke through with a win after an eight-game winless skid. They came out victorious for the first time since July 2 and now improve to 15-8-5. Hoping to build on the win, the Ketts return to Lowell Park on Thursday for a 5 p.m. matchup against the Orleans Firebirds, a team that Cotuit has not lost to this season (1-0-1).
by Clara Richards | Washington University in St. Louis
- Assistant coach Daniel Wilkerson retired his number 27 jersey, although the name printer across the back has stayed the same. Colby Wilkerson (UNC) took his older brother’s maroon jersey for the first time today. After being activated on July 11th, the younger Wilkerson brother took his first at-bat today on Spillane Field and made it count. He landed an RBI single to bring in the first run of the game in the second inning.
Defensively, Wilkerson played third base, a position he hasn’t played since 2021 at UNC-Chapel Hill. He had the first half of the summer to warm up to his bat-league games; he played fourteen games in the Northwoods this summer before getting on a plane for Boston two days ago.
It’s been six or seven years since he’s been on the same team as his brother, and to be wearing the same uniform was a surprise for him. Still, he’s looking forward to joining the currently top-ranked team on the cape. “We were just having fun out there playing ball and just communicating,” he said about his transition to the new team. “We know what we’re doing, and we’re just trying to execute as well as we can.”
- Christian Little (LSU) took the mound as a reliever after Jaylen Paden (Georgia Southern) pitched the first two outs as an opener. Little stepped into the game in a high-pressure situation in the first, with the bases loaded with walks. He threw a strikeout to close out the inning and proceeded to hurl 3.2 innings, striking out six and allowing no earned runs.
The former Vanderbilt pitcher had previously allowed 10.3 runs per 9 innings in 8.0 innings pitched. In his performance today, he was able to locate his pitches and throw strikes when they counted. “I was kind of out of sync just from taking time off after the season,” he said. “Today, I finally found a rhythm.”
The intensity of the Ketts’ schedule combined with the experience he’s gotten on the mound has been an educational opportunity for future LSU tiger. “I feel like I’ve been learning, getting better at pitching without having my best stuff all the time,” he said.
On top of his time in the bullpen, Little might have also gotten a future roommate out of his Ketts’ experience. He’s considering rooming with Cotuit position player Josh Pearson (LSU), who played left field in the matchup against the Gatemen.