Story by Steve McCarthy, photos by Martha Johnston
Saturday, June 13, 2009
COTUIT – Aggressive base running by the Cotuit Kettleers made Saturday’s delayed 2009 season opener a thriller, but the host Wareham Gatemen held on for a 5-4 win at Spillane Field.
Cotuit struggled to generate offense, and two errors proved costly before a ninth inning rally came up short.
The Kettleers had Thursday’s much anticipated re-match of the 2008 Cape League Championship against Harwich pushed back twice, and will wait until June 17 to visit the Mariners. It was also the first game for the Gatemen, who had Friday’s game in Chatham postponed due to fog.
Wareham starting pitcher Eric Pfisterer (Duke) struck out 10 batters in five innings, and did not allow a hit. Pfisterer, who was listed as an infielder on Duke’s roster, baffled the Cotuit lineup. Josh Slaats (1-0, Hawaii) was credited with the win in relief.
The Gatemen jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the first inning, capitalizing on four hits, and a throwing error by Cotuit third baseman Drew Hillman (Orange Coast JC). The eventual winning run was scored by shortstop Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech) in the seventh, who reached base on the Kettleers second error.
Trailing 5-3 entering the ninth inning, Cotuit catcher Cody Stanley (UNC Wilmington), who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth for Zach Maggard (Florida Southern), drew a walk off Wareham closer Nick Pepitone (Tulane), before advancing to second on a fielder’s choice. Stanley was driven in from second by first baseman Kevin Patterson (Auburn), when Patterson’s first hit of the night found a hole through the right side of the infield.
Brian Harrison (Furman), came in as a pinch runner for Patterson, and advanced to third on a double by Brendon Kelliher (George Washington). Cotuit manager Mike Roberts called for a suicide squeeze with speedy outfielder Jeff Rowland (Georgia Tech) in the batter’s box, but Rowland’s bunt attempt was popped up to Wareham catcher Chris Hannick (Cal St. Northridge) for the second out.
Zach Cone (Georgia), entered in the eighth inning as a pinch runner for shortstop Paul Bingham (Indiana U of PA), and worked a full count against Pepitone, but flew out to right to end the game. Cone had two stolen bases in the previous inning, part of a nine steal attack by the Kettleers, who had just three hits in the game. Chris Bisson (Kentucky) had four thefts, and Rico Noel (Coastal Carolina) had three. Noel led off with Cotuit’s first base hit in a two run sixth inning in which the Kettleers cut the 4-0 deficit in half.
“It was I guess bittersweet,” Bisson said. “We got so close. I mean it was good. Coming in against that team, almost got that win at the end there. So it speaks a lot for our club.”
Cotuit starter Mike Nesseth (0-1, Nebraska) was responsible for two runs allowed in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked one while taking the loss.
“I felt really comfortable with all three of my pitches,” Nesseth said. “Towards the end with my fastball I just couldn’t really control that (Hit batter) too much. Just in that first inning, four runs, I don’t know many were earned, you can’t set the tone like that.”
Nesseth was relieved by Ben Rowen (Virginia Tech), who allowed two hits in one inning pitched. Andres Caceres (Connors State JC) then struck out three of the first four batters he faced, and retired the Gatemen in order in the eighth.
The Kettleers will look to rebound Sunday in their home opener against the Falmouth Commodores at Lowell Park. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.