by Clara Richards | Washington University for St. Louis
The Kettleers continued their dominating start to the season, shutting out Falmouth 4-0 in another commanding show of defensive strength. They now have played eighteen innings without a run or error. Five days ago, head coach Mike Roberts said that this group wasn’t a team yet — just players from around the country in the same uniform. In the early days of the season, though, this group has shown a clamped-down defense and aggressive baserunners to drive in runs, a good sign of things to come.
Offensively, the Ketts threatened early on, stealing four bases in the first three innings. Still, it took them until the fifth inning to convert those efforts into runs. Chandler Simpson (GA Tech) stepped up to the plate with a runner on base and poked a ball past the shortstop. It bounced off of the infielder’s glove to bring Ryan Ritter (Kentucky) home. The Ketts’ damage didn’t stop there; Simpson scored in the same inning after stealing third base on the first pitch of the at-bat. Roberts played him at second base and was rewarded with two hits and a run, Simpson batting .500 during the game. While Simpson showcased his hitting strength, he also seized baserunning opportunities for himself early in the counts. “Nowadays, coaches like to hit home runs. But [Roberts] likes speed to try to put [the ball] in play,” Simpson said. “I’m just glad that he likes to play my game, and speed is my game.”
From there, the runs trickled in during the second half of the game. Justin Miknis (Kent State) juiced a long ball out to left field, and it curved down just outside of the fence for the Ketts’ second home run of the season. With a 3-0 lead, the team added an insurance run in the eighth from Graham Pauley (Duke), Pauley scoring after a productive out from Peyton Williams (Iowa). Pauley landed two hits in three at-bats. He also notched one stolen base in a move that he said was not in his natural style of play before coming to Cotuit. At Duke, in 212 at-bats, he stole 5 total bases; in comparison, this year he’s stolen 2 in 6 trips to the plate. “I’m not the fastest guy out there,” Graham said. “But Coach Roberts has done a great job teaching base training, not only to me, but to everyone.”
The pitching was a combined effort from starter Harrison Cohen (George Washington) and Jackson Kelley (Mercer). Cohen only struck out two batters, but he threw five shutout innings with the help of an impenetrable defensive stand. In the fifth, the mustached Jackson Kelley strode up to the mound and was unstoppable on the bump. Throwing from a variety of different arm slots, including a deadly submarine pitch and overhand, batters had trouble settling in and reading his throws, and he struck out seven and allowed only two hits.
Throughout all nine innings, the Kettleers ran a seamless defensive effort. In the outfield, Victor Scott (West Virginia University) made a diving catch in centerfield, and Kade Kern (Ohio State) caught an impressive foul ball in the shadows of left field to record an impressive out. Last night, starter Kade Morris described this defense as clamped down, and that remained consistant tonight. “Knowing that any ball that is put in play is going to get fielded allows me to have a lot of trust in the people who are behind me,” Cohen, tonight’s starter, added.
This team has shown a lot of depth over the first two matchups, with Simpson and Minkis coming in today’s game after not playing in the starting lineup against Chatham. Now, the challenge will be filling in the holes after players begin to leave for the MLB Draft Combine, which will draw players to Petco Park on June 14-20. Players leaving include Scott, who has played a major role in the Ketts’ offensive production over the past few days. “We’re losing four offensive players starting Wednesday for five days,” said Roberts. “So we’re talking about the depth tonight. We’ll talk about the lack of depth on Thursday.”
The Kettleers play their first home matchup against Bourne at 5:00 p.m. The Braves are currently 1-0-1, with one tied game against the Wareham Gateman.
Reporter’s Notebook: Takeaways from the game
By Joe Pratt | Baylor University
- Cohen (George Washington) started for Cotuit tonight in his third campaign. The draft-eligible right-hander fired just 68 pitches in five innings allowing two hits in the outing. Kelley (Mercer) followed with an additional four spotless frames, also allowing two knocks. The pair combined for two and seven strikeouts, respectively. Kelley says that himself along with the pitching staff are not too surprised with its perfect start to the season. “I mean, that’s the best story you can have right there. We have a lot of confidence, [and] a lot of veteran guys that are used to it,” Kelley said.
- The offense had two more hits than last night with six on Monday night. Pauley (Duke) notched the first hit as the second batter of the game. Pauley concluded the contest with two hits, a stolen base and a run scored. Brooks Baldwin (UNC-Wilmington) put the Ketts ahead 2-0 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly that scored Simpson (Georgia Tech). Simpson appeared for the first time this season after .433 this past year with the Yellow Jackets and slapped a double and a single while showcasing his impressive speed with a stolen base.
- Game two’s offensive output was highlighted by Miknis’ (Kent State) solo shot to lead off the seventh, elevating Cotuit’s lead to 3-0. “I got an advantage in the count and then I told myself that a fastball is coming. I barreled it so I felt really good,” Miknis said. Miknis served in his first game behind the dish of the summer league season, receiving throws from Cohen and Kelley for all nine innings. He called a scoreless game and led the two aces to a smooth victory. “It’s really easy to catch for Jackson and Harrison both so it was a fun game, and [there was] not too much going on defensively, so it’s pretty easy to handle,” Miknis said.