By Will Kraus, Bates College
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
Video by Jacob Cohen, Boston University
June 29, 2019
Wareham was intentionally walking Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) by the third inning on Saturday. It was that kind of game for Gonzales who went 4-5 with 5 RBI against the Gatemen in the 11-3 Cotuit win.
“Nick had one of those days to remember.” Coach Mike Roberts commented postgame.
“It feels really good to go out and help the team as much as I can and compete everyday.” Gonzales said after back to back 4-5 performances in which Gonzales came just a hit shy of the cycle.
Gonzales has been a major factor in the Kettleers’ last three wins, scoring the first run and getting the game winning RBI in each of those wins.
He started the scoring off in Cotuit’s very first at bat, connecting on an 0-2 pitch he sent 375 feet to deep left that took out a sizable tree branch before it finally landed.
“I was just trying to fight and choke up on the bat and was just trying to fight out there in that at bat.” Gonzales said of his third home run postgame.
“It sparks you. It really sparks you.” Roberts said of the lead off homer.
Cody Pasic (Maine) would bunt Cam Hill (Kentucky) home in the second as the speedy Hill acrobatically avoided the tag by Adrian Del Castillo (Miami) to put Cotuit up two.
Then came Gonzales again who swung at the first pitch of Wareham starter William Fleming (Wake Forest), sending a bullet over the head of the center fielder that bounced to the fence. Donta Williams (Arizona) scored easily from third, Pasic hustled around the bases behind him, and Gonzales stood at third with a stand up triple that extended the Kettleers’ lead to 4-0.
Gonzales’ third RBI of the game, Pasic, would prove to be the game winner.
Cotuit tacked on two more in the third, the fifth run coming in Matt Mervis (Duke) who scored the Kettleers’ fifth run as Oviedo hit into a fielder’s choice.
Williams would score from third the next at bat as the Gatemen’s pitcher fumbled a bunt by Pasic before flipping it with his glove past Del Castillo at the plate, allowing Williams to easily make the score 6-0.
Cotuit kept their foot on the gas pedal in the fourth as Joey Loperfido (Duke) and Mason McWhorter (Georgia Southern) started the inning with a pair of singles. Mervis was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Loperfido would then score on a ground out to the pitcher by Hill, and Williams would record his first RBI of the game with a deep sacrifice fly to center that gave McWhorter plenty of time to tag up to increase the Kettleers’ command of the game to an eight run margin.
Meanwhile, as Cotuit’s offense kept supplying starter Reid Johnston (North Carolina State) with insurance runs, Johnston didn’t blink.
Johnston was lights out in his second start as a Kettleer, giving up 0 runs and just two hits as he cruised through five innings against a team that had averaged 9.33 runs per game in its last three games.
“I thought he changed speeds really well.” Roberts said.
Roberts continued to break down the reasons behind Johnston’s success.
“A lot of left-handed hitters, seven left-handed hitters [in Wareham’s order]. He brought the breaking ball in from the right handed batter’s box and was tough to read. His breaking ball really has enough difference in the speed from his fastball that goes about 89 to 91 [miles per hour], while his breaking ball is usually down around 76 so it kind of makes hitters double pump a little bit. So I just thought he had a very mature outing.”
Cotuit filled the bases in the bottom of the fifth, scoring once as Pasic was granted home plate on a balk by Michael Webb (Rhode Island College). That gave Cotuit their largest lead of the night as they were on top 9-0 after five.
The Gatemen would score a run in the sixth off of Beck Way (Belmont Abbey). Richard Brereton (Emory) got the call with two out in the inning to keep Wareham from getting any closer.
Brereton would give up two runs on his own, but pitched very solidly as he would go on to close out the game over three and a third innings.
Gonzales tacked on his fourth and fifth RBI in the bottom of the eighth on a single up the middle that plated Williams and Oviedo to extend Cotuit’s lead to 11-2 at the time.
Gonzales came to the plate in the eighth just a double shy of the cycle. He did his best on the play as he sprinted around first in an attempt to complete the hitting feat but was tagged out just before his left cleat touched second as the ball was thrown in from center field.
Roberts loved the effort by Gonzales as he grinned on the third base line and clapped his hands before chatting with Gonzales as he returned to Cotuit’s dug out.
When asked about what Roberts told him, Gonzales recalled that “He just said it was fun to watch you[Gonzales] try to stretch it into a double because probably any other situation I’ll just stand at first.”
Cotuit Broadcasters Aram Leighton (Syracuse) and Sam Neidermann (Indiana) reportedly asked Roberts before the game what player Gonzales reminded him of and the seventeen year Kettleers skipper had a very interesting answer.
His answer was that Gonzales reminded him of his son, Brian, a second baseman like Gonzales who played in the MLB from 2001-2014, becoming a two time All-Star in 2005 and 2007.
When asked about the similarities between the two following the win Roberts noted that they both have “short, compact swings, a lot of baseball savvy, and they make hard contact often.”
Roberts also spoke about an extra three hour long practice prior to the game that certainly seemed to help in Cotuit’s 11-3 rout of the division leading Gatemen.
“We started practice at 12 O’Clock today and the guys spent three hours working. Pre-game practice that’s practice versus your normal routine I think always helps.” Roberts commented.
“I thought the entire team had better focus at the plate.” Roberts also mentioned when comparing the 11-3 win to Friday’s 10-6 loss at Orleans.
The victory over Wareham was a statement win against an offense that came into Saturday with seven players batting over .300.
The Kettleers (7-6-2) look to put an exclamation point on that statement with an opportunity to move into first place in the West Division on Sunday night when they travel to Spillane Field to face Wareham (8-6-1) once again for a 6:30 PM start.