Story by Steve McCarthy,
Photos by Grace Archambeault
Monday, June 8, 2009
COTUIT – Cotuit Kettleers coach Mike Roberts told his players before Monday’s exhibition it was mandatory for them to attempt to steal in the first three pitches after reaching base. With 9 thefts by the Kettleers in the first two innings, the Cape Cod Braves of the Cranberry Baseball League knew they were in over their heads en route to a 9-1 trouncing by Cotuit at Lowell Park.
A modest crowd turned out to get an early glimpse of the roster Roberts and his staff have assembled in an effort to make a return trip to the Cape League playoffs. The 2008 Western Division champs finished with 15 stolen bases in the game, which Roberts looked at as an opportunity for his club to utilize what they had learned in practice.
“We try to run, and we’re certainly going to continue to try to be that type of team in the Cape (League),” Roberts said. “Today gives us a good chance to work on what we’ve been teaching them in practice.”
Rico Noel, a utility player from Coastal Carolina University, stole second and third after drawing a walk in the second inning in his return to the base paths after a 48 steal season with the Chanticleers.
“We have a ton of team speed,” Noel said. “The most speed I’ve ever played with, definitely. It looks like we’ll have a good season on the base paths, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Kettleers cycled a roster supplemented by temporary players while they await the arrival of others finishing their college seasons. They used a 12 hit attack to build the lead, while stranding 9 on base. Cory Vaughn (San Diego St.), son of former Kettleer and MLB All-Star, and recent Cape League Hall of Fame inductee Greg Vaughn, had two hits and two runs.
Six pitchers split the workload for Cotuit, and surrendered just four hits, with the lone run coming in the fifth inning in which Cotuit committed a pair of errors. Navery Moore (Vanderbilt) walked Matt Skane (Stonehill College) with the bases loaded, but earned the win after pitching the fourth and fifth innings. Chad Bell (Tennessee) followed Moore by striking out the first five batters he faced and forced a ground ball for the final out to complete two perfect frames.
“Everything felt good,” Bell said. “I only threw two (pitches). I didn’t even throw a curveball today. I threw all fastballs and change-ups.”
Mike Nesseth (Nebraska) started the game, followed by Max Russell (Florida Southern) in the second and third innings. Jake Buchanan (NC State) pitched the eighth, and set up submarine style right-hander Ben Rowen to close the game.
Braves pitcher Andrew Blair was a rare bright spot for his team, as he retired all 5 batters he faced after entering in the seventh inning.
Cotuit will open the 2009 season Thursday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Harwich for a re-match of the 2008 Cape League Championship. The Home opener for the Kettleers is June 14 at 5 p.m. against Falmouth.