By: Matt McHugh
July 15, 2017
COTUIT – After a delayed arrival in Cotuit due to Florida’s national championship win, relief pitcher Mike Byrne (Florida) made his much-anticipated Cotuit Kettleers (14-13-1) debut in the team’s 1-0 loss to Wareham (13-15-1).
Byrne served as Florida’s closer in his sophomore season, and was one of the best closers in college baseball. He led the nation with 19 saves, and struck out 93 batters in 75.2 innings with a 1.67 ERA.
On Saturday, Byrne came in to a 0-0 game in the 8th inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. After striking out John Toppa (Connecticut) on three pitches, he gave up an RBI single to Tristan Pompey (Kentucky), which proved to be the difference in Cotuit’s 1-0 loss.
“I felt fresh,” Byrne said. The situation didn’t matter to me. I made a good pitch to a good hitter in Pompey and he took it right up the middle.”
Byrne’s high workload at Florida, combined with their extra-long four-month season, might have been a concern for a different kind of player. But neither Byrne or his coaches seem too worried.
“He’s very low-maintenance,” pitching coach Jonathan King said. “I asked him how long he took to get loose in the bullpen, and he said “Not long.” He’s easygoing, and knows what he has to do to get outs.”
Byrne sat in the low-90s with his fastball, and mixed in a slider with exceptional movement.
“He had his breaking ball working really well tonight,” King added. “That’s what was really big for him during the year and the world series.
Byrne’s late arrival also meant he could not even meet his Kettleer teammates until halfway through the regular season. He met most of them for the first time at Hyannis on Wednesday, when he arrived on the Cape.
They’ve embraced me really well,” Byrne said. “They’re good guys that like each other, probably why they’ve been so good. When you have good guys who like each other you get good results.”
The Kettleers will see the Gatemen again tomorrow. First pitch is at 5:30 p.m. at Spillane field.
- The Cape League announced the selections for the 2017 All-star game on Saturday morning. Greyson Jenista (Wichita State), Griffin Conine (Duke), Zack Kone (Duke), Zane Collins (Wright State), and Justin Hooper (UCLA) were selected to represent the Kettleers. The game will take place at Wareham’s Spillane field on Saturday, July 22.
- The Kettleers made a switch in their batting order. Moving first baseman Michael Toglia (UCLA) to the no. 2 spot and centerfielder Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) to the cleanup spot. Toglia has been swinging a hot bat, hitting .333 in his last 10 games.
- Despite his recent slump, (0 for his last 8) Griffin Conine still leads the entire Cape League with 23 RBIs.