By Nick Solari, Writing Intern, Quinnipiac University
July 18, 2013
(Kettle Talk with Alexa Galloway PREGAME and POSTGAME)
(Video Highlights by Connor Sullivan HERE)
(Greg Mroz talks with Chatham broadcaster Brandon Liebhaber in a CAPE COD BASEBALL LEAGUE RECAP PODCAST)
CHATHAM – Thursday in Chatham was night one of life without Mike Ford.
Ford, a second year veteran of the Kettleers, was leading the Cape League in batting average (.407) and was tied for the most home runs (5) at the time of his departure. The corner infielder from Princeton carried the team’s offensive output at times, and Cotuit was in desperate need of players to step up and help fill the void that he left when he signed with the New York Yankees.
The Kettleers got plenty of offense in his absence, scoring eight runs on ten hits in the late-night affair against the Anglers. It was the pitching, however, that let them down.
Jimmy Pickens (Michigan State) singled in the bottom half of the sixth to drive in a run and make it 8-7, and Chatham never looked back winning the game by the final score of 11-8.
Cotuit’s four pitchers combined to walk nine batters, hit four, and give up eight hits on the evening. It was the first time since July 5th that the Kettleers pitching staff surrendered double-digit runs, and the second time all season. Cotuit’s defense also made two errors on the night.
“Our pitching is fine,” Roberts said after the game. “Our pitching will be good every day. It’s our defense that is the issue. When we mature defensively, we have a chance to win every day.
Evan Beal got the start. He went 3.1 innings, gave up four hits, five earned runs, and walked six while striking out three.
Drew Jackson (Stanford) got things started with a walk to lead off the third inning. Nolan Clark then lofted a fly ball to shallow center on a hit-and-run, which was caught by Chatham shortstop Michael Russell (UNC). Russell then spun around and threw to first base in an effort to get a retreating Jackson, but the throw went past the first baseman. Jackson advanced to second base on the error.
Danny Diekroeger (Stanford) was next at the plate. He singled up the middle to tie the game at one, recording his second RBI of the season.
Hunter Cole (Georgia) then walked, putting runners on first and second for newcomer Mark Payton (Texas). It was his first game on the Cape, and the DH promptly doubled to left field to drive in Diekroeger, making it 2-1 Kettleers.
“I liked what I saw from him,” Roberts said of his newest player Payton after the game. “He’s a nice addition to the lineup, especially after losing Mike Ford. He’s a really good player.”
Jake Fincher (NC State) drove in the third and final run Cotuit picked up in the top of the third. He grounded out to second base, driving in Cole.
Chatham bounced back, however, by putting up six runs in the bottom half of the fourth on three big hits. Mitchell Gunsolus (Gonzaga) hit a bases loaded no-out double to drive in two and tie the game 3-3. After Beal balked in the go-ahead run, Dante Flores (USC) hit a double to drive in another run and make it 5-3. Cleanup hitter J.D. Davis (Cal State Fullerton) then ripped a two-run shot over the center field fence to extend the lead to 7-3 before reliever Eric Karch (Pepperdine) could retire the side.
The Kettleers then wasted no time in mounting a comeback of their own. Jake Fincher singled to drive in Kevin Bradley in the top half of the fifth. Then Rhett Wiseman belted a three-run homerun to tie the game at 7. Wiseman was 3-for-4 on the day, and it was his first homerun of the season.
“There were two outs, and I was just looking to put some pressure on their pitcher (McGee),” Wiseman said after the game. “I thought we were able to get guys on base, and score some runs nicely tonight.”
Cotuit’s pitching staff couldn’t hold off the Anglers. Pickens hit the go-ahead single in the sixth, and Chatham never surrendered the lead from that point. Three more runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning finally put the game out of reach.
The Kettleers got one more run when Jackson doubled in a run in the top of the eighth.
With the loss Cotuit falls to 18-12 on the year, and first-place Chatham improves to 20-9. The Kettleers are back in action tomorrow at Hyannis for a 6 p.m. start