By Will Kraus, Bates College
Photos by Josh Muir, Endicott College
August 2, 2019
It was simply the best all around baseball game of the season, despite the ten inning 8-7 heartbreaking loss to Wareham on Friday night in game one of the playoffs.
When two talented ball clubs refuse to quit for two veteran coaches this is exactly the result you’d expect.
While Cotuit found themselves down 6-0 after the first they miraculously battled back to take a 7-6 lead in the fourth. The Kettleers’ grit was shown throughout the game, even from starter Jackson Wolf (West Virginia) who had a less than stellar outing.
With Cotuit already down 2-0 Wolf tweaked his back leading to trainer Craig Moody and Coach Roberts coming to the mound. But Wolf showed he wanted to fight for the team, continuing to battle.
Cotuit emulated Wolf’s spirit with an outstanding comeback effort, coming up just short in a ten inning thriller.
Here are the five major highlights from the great battle between the Kettleers and the Gatemen.
1: Loperfido’s Rally Starting Home Run: Heading into the fourth inning the outlook was bleak for Cotuit. They trailed 6-1 and Wareham had their ace, Ian Bedell (Missouri Columbia), on the mound. In six starts Bedell was 4-0 with an incredible 0.58 ERA. Yet Joey Loperfido (Duke) started an amazing six run inning that changed the entire atmosphere of the Kettleers’ bleachers on the third base side. Loperfido wasted no time from the left side, swinging at the first pitch and sending a towering shot down the left field line into the Kettleers’ bullpen that started to stir the Cotuit offense.
2: The Tying Run: With Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) at second and Adam Oviedo (Oral Roberts) at third the Kettleers had cut the Gatemen’s lead to just 6-5 with only one out in the inning. With the hot-hitting Matt Mervis (Duke) at the plate reliever Trey Dillard (Missouri Columbia) yanked a pitch past catcher Dallas Beaver (South Carolina Columbia) that allowed Oviedo to sprint home and send the Cotuit faithful into a frenzy with the game tied at 6.
3: Cotuit Takes Lead: With the bases loaded after a pair of walks who else but Loperfido
stepped up to bat. Loperfido hit a ball into the gap between short and third that shortstop Benjamin Sems (Kansas) made a diving stop for. But a stop would be all Sems got, not having time to throw out Loperfido and allowing Gonzales to score easily as Cotuit went up 7-6. Just like that the Kettleers had a six run inning of their own and took control of the game.
4: Robinson Guns Down Winning Run: The intensity of play was palpable in the bottom of the tenth. Wareham had runners on first and second with just one out when Matthew Rudick (San Diego State) came to bat. The lefty pulled a ball into right field toward right fielder Christian Robinson (Stanford) and Wareham’s third base coach waved Mike Antico (St. John’s) home. Cotuit’s dugout and fans collectively held their breath as Robinson fired a dart home to catcher Cody Pasic (Maine) just in time to tag Antico out and keep the Kettleers breathing in game one. The Cotuit bleachers erupted, applauding the magnificent play by Robinson, but the Kettleers still needed one more out to force the contest to an eleventh inning.
5: Schmitt Rolls in the Stone Dust: After the Robinson throw Trey Lipscomb (Tennessee) stepped into the batter’s box from the right side with runners on the corners and two out. The game’s final play was a microcosm of the complete effort Cotuit displayed all game when third baseman Casey Schmitt (San Diego State) dove head over heels in Wareham’s stone dust infield on a hard hit grounder in the gap between third and short. Schmitt had to somersault before returning to his feet and firing to first. But by that point it was too late. Lipscomb was safe at first and Matt McLain (California Los Angeles) scored the winning run from third. The Gatemen seemingly flew out of their dugout to mob Lipscomb at first as Wareham took game one of the best of three series 8-7 in walk-off fashion.
Cotuit’s season is on the line Saturday at 4 PM as the Gatemen come to Lowell Park with the opportunity to win the series.