Clara Richards | Washington University in Stl. Louis
Cotuit, MA — In the bottom of the ninth, the Kettleers had three outs to make a comeback. They were trailing Falmouth by two runs when the first at-bat, Josh Pearson (LSU) hit a a shot that sailed down right field. Pearson was thrown out at second base, though, after trying to squeeze a double from his outfield hit. Then, the pitcher got rattled. After a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and another walk, the bases were loaded with Kettleers under the pink sky of the incoming dusk. The Ketts needed two runners to come home to tie the game.
Chandler Simpson (Georgia Tech) was the man for the job.
After hitting three foul balls to the trees of left field, one that soared just inches away from the foul pole, Simpson advanced to first from an error by the third baseman, allowing Victor Scott (West Virginia) and Kyle Karros (California) to cross the plate. In doing so, they brought in the tying runs in a hard-fought game, where the Ketts defense floundered in the first three innings before regaining their footing.
The division-leading team was forced to claw their way back for only the second time in their nine-game season. The defense struggled early in the first with an attempted pickoff move that resulted in an error at first base. Adam Boucher (Duke) effectively worked his way out of the first inning, but the issues continued in the second inning for the infielders behind him. A single from the Commodores plus two errors and a walk allowed a run to score,
The Ketts waited until the bottom of the fifth to retaliate. Ryan Ritter (Kentucky) scored after hitting a single and advancing from productive outs from Graham Pauley (Duke) and Caleb Lomavita (California). Yet the Commodores struck again, capitalizing on a walk from Chris Stewart (University of Texas) . A double in the eighth that allowed two runs to score, making the score 3-1 heading into the ninth. It was only thanks to the saving-grace hack from Simpson plus smart baserunning that the Ketts recorded a tie instead of a loss.
Boucher fired seventy pitches in three innings, giving up two hits and no earned runs. He retired the mound to Max Gieg (Boston College), who kept the threatening offense locked down. In his first outing since May 21st, the righty gave up 1 hit and struck out three batters. “It was nice to be back in competitive play, and it’s amazing to help the team, especially in a tight ballgame,” Gieg said. He personally thought that his changeup wasn’t as effective as it normally was, and initially, he had trouble getting his slider in the zone, but his scoreless outing kept the Ketts in contention. “As the outing went on, I got a little bit more comfortable and then settled in,” he said.
A combination of three pitchers filled the last two innings. Chris Stuart (Texas) threw one out, allowing one earned run, and Will Privette (College of Charleston) let up two hits while throwing two outs. In his first outing for the Ketts, Tyler Johnson (Ball State) tossed the last inning, striking out two batters.
The Ketts weren’t able to shut down offensive production as effectively as they have been able to in past outings. That, coupled with defensive issues, put additional pressure on the pitchers. The early errors “looms large on the scoreboard,” head coach Mike Roberts said. “But I think what you take away from it is that we came back and tied the ballgame.
Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, the Kettleers play a makeup game against the Chatham Anglers at Lowell Park. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, June 17 but was postponed due to inclement weather. Making his first start of the season, Kenya Huggins (Chipola) will be on the hill for game ten as Cotuit looks to win its ninth game of the season.
For the first time this season, the Kettleers did not secure a victory. The team had to battle back once before Wednesday night’s matchup against the Falmouth Commodores. Until Wednesday, Cotuit had played at a tie or with the lead for 46 straight innings.
- Max Gieg (Boston College) had a strong performance in his first outing of the summer with four scoreless innings. Gieg, who grew up under two hours away from Cotuit in Lynn, Mass., allowed just one base runner and struck out three. “This year, I worked a lot on limiting walks, and I think that was evident today. I was much more in the strike zone, and really kind of utilizing my legs – I’ve been very arm dominant throughout my career,” Gieg said. After Gieg made his first appearance, another new face in Chris Stuart (Texas) was called to the mound in the eighth inning. Stuart, however, struggled to retire Falmouth batters as the Texan failed to record more than one out. He was replaced after facing three batters and posted a short line of 0.1 IP with an earned run, a hit, a strikeout and a walk. Stuart and Will Privette (College of Charleston) pitched a combined one inning as Privette got the last two outs of the eighth. He gave up his second run of the summer while striking out one. Ty Johnson (Ball State) also saw action for the first time this summer in the top of the ninth. Johnson threw a clean no-hit inning with two Ks.
- Cotuit accumulated 3 errors in just 1.1 frames, but the Ketts escaped the second inning while allowing just one tally on the board. The Ketts fielded the ball spotlessly for the rest of the game, and Falmouth fell ill to the defensive woes that Cotuit faced in the opening plays of the game.
- Errors were the reason for a tie in game nine as Chandler Simpson (Georgia Tech) smacked a missile to third with the bases full in the bottom of the ninth. The play went in the book as an error and two Ketts came across to tie the game.
- Victor Scott (West Virginia) approached the box with one out and the bases empty in the ninth after Josh Pearson (LSU) hit a ball to the fence but was called out trying to stretch a double. Scott was then in the position to maintain his squad’s hope after what looked like a promising start to the final inning. “I didn’t really feel any pressure. I will say I came out of my approach a little bit – I was trying to send the ball back to my host house … [I was] kind of dialing back into those last couple of pitches. I knew what I had to do is just get on base for the Ketts and keep it rolling,” Scott said. He then worked a walk on a full count and stole second to show that the Ketts were not out of the game yet.
- Ryan Ritter (Kentucky) was recognized on Wednesday as one of the best collegiate defenders for the 2022 season. The shortstop perfectly fielded 97% of balls hit his directions throughout his season at Kentucky. Today, Ritter proved why he deserves the Gold Glove Award with a key defensive stop late in the game. He saved another run from crossing home by fielding a grounder and firing a bullet to catcher Justin Miknis (Kent State) for the second out in the eighth inning.