by Roy Reiss
The power of an action picture is sometimes amazing. Last month we published two action shots of CCBL Hall of Famer Garrett Atkins courtesy of the Cape Cod Times. One of those pictures showed Atkins sliding into home plate before what looked like a playoff Lowell Park crowd with coach Mike Coutts celebrating in the background.
The picture elicited quite a response from Coutts who some 14 years later remembered vividly the scene at beautiful Lowell Park. He called it one of the most exciting moments of his coaching career. Let’s allow the coach to tell the story.
“That picture is from Game 2 of the championship series vs Chatham in 1999 and the place was absolutely packed, one of the largest crowds I’d seen in my time at Cotuit,” explained Coutts.
“We were behind 2-0 vs Chatham and their pitcher Rik Currier (USC). The pitching match up was great as we had Henry Bonilla (Tulane) on the hill. Henry was offered a contract with the Twins that summer to sign as a free agent. He turned them down to stay and pitch with us. You don’t see that much today. He said that one of the reasons that he didn’t sign was that he didn’t want to let his teammates down.
“Then Brad Stockton (Georgia Tech) hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the 7th to make it 2-1. In the bottom of the 9th Chathem sent their ace fireman to the hill to shut us down and win the title, as they had won game one, 9-4, at their place the night before. Derrick DePriest (North Carolina) hadn’t given up a run all year and had 15 saves and had 22.2 innings in a row without giving up a run.
“All I remember is that Garrett Atkins (UCLA), he could roll out of bed and hit, scored the winning run on a hit by a kid from Purdue by the name of Daryl Hallada. I recall we got the lead runner on in the 9th and we let Chase Utley (UCLA) hit instead of bunting…..he hit one to the fence in center but it was caught. I think Shawn Pearson (Old Dominion) stole second and eventually scored on a Jason Colson (Winthrop) bloop hit to center that moved Garrett into scoring position. And that set the stage for Hallada’s game winning hit, scoring Atkins.
“After the game people went right to the field in Chatham to put their lawn chairs against the fence to get seating for Game 3. It was crazy.
“In fact, we almost didn’t have enough players for Game 3. Three players and one coach had to get back to school, and our starting pitcher for Game 3, Mike Shultz (Loyola Marymount), our catcher Dane Sardinha (Pepperdine) and our SS Andy Cannizaro (Tulane) all got to the game about 30 minutes before it started. We had left from the Lowell Park parking lot and they weren’t there so we assumed they were meeting us in Chatham. My wife, Lynn, just happened to go by the field on her way to the game and those guys were in the parking lot. She told them that we had already left and they better get in so she could give them a ride. In typical Cape Cod fashion the traffic was slow and they almost didn’t make it.
“By the way, we went to Chatham for Game 3 and smoked them 7-1. It was over in the 3rd. Atkins hit a home run. There must have been 7000 people at that game. It was unreal. You knew there was no way we were losing Game 3 after we had won Game 2 in the fashion that we did.
“The other great thing about that year was that we wound up pretty much with the same roster that we started the summer with. We made a commitment to the kids and they in turn made one to us.
And an even greater story.
Kettleers Korner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.