By Joe Pratt | Baylor University
The Kettleers burst out of the gates in the 2022 season with flawless pitching performances from Kade Morris (Nevada), Isaiah Coupet (Ohio), Ethan Chenault (UNC-Wilmington) and William Privette (College of Charleston) in a 5-0 win over the Chatham Anglers. Morris started the contest and went up against potential first overall pick Carson Whisenhunt from the East Carolina Pirates.
After a scoreless first inning on both sides, the Kettleers finally broke open the score with three runs in the top of the second. Cal Berkley’s Caleb Lomavita was the first Cotuit batter to notch a base hit against Whisenhunt with a leadoff single, followed by an errant fastball from the left-hander that hit Victor Scott (West Virginia University) putting runners on first and second with no outs. The pair of runners advanced to second and third on a double steal. Kade Kern (Ohio State) hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, which brought Lomavita home to score the Kettleers’ first run of the game. The 255-pound slugger Peyton Williams (Iowa) dug in as the fourth batter of the frame and delivered a two-run home run to left, the first of the ‘22 season for the Ketts.
“Caleb Lomavita scored and he said, ‘Be on time for the fastball.’ I missed the first [fastball],” Williams said, “and [Whisenhunt] was struggling throwing his off-speed for strikes so I [was] just really expecting a fastball and I got the pitch I was looking for.”
Whisenhunt was taken out of the game after allowing three runs on two hits and five strikeouts in three innings of work. A couple of pitches bounced past Chatham’s catchers in the fourth and the sixth to make the score 5-0, Cotuit taking every chance they were given to score.
Morris finished up his impressive outing after 4 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits and no runs along the way. Coupet replaced Morris, retiring six Anglers and giving up a hit, also recording a strikeout. Chenault appeared for two outs before being pulled after a walk in the bottom of the ninth. Privette, who earned rookie honors with the College of Charleston Cougars this season, finished things up by striking out the side in the ninth to close out the Ketts’ first victory of the year in a lights-out effort for Robert’s pitching staff.
“Well, the thing I love about Kade is when you’re looking for a starting pitcher to set the tone for the ballgame,” head coach Mike Roberts said, “and I thought he did a great job of doing that, particularly after we scored three runs. I see a veteran out there, and that’s what we talk about all the time. ‘Are you a veteran? Okay, prove veteran on this pitch’. And he pitched very professionally.”
The aggressive baserunning approach continued into the regular season with the Ketts attempting to steal seven times, reaching on six of those bids.
“I hope they took away some confidence and that they trust me in my teaching,” Roberts said. “Tonight, I was pleased that we did a nice job on base stealing, and … [there was] not many hits [but] the running game is always there, it was there tonight.”
Cotuit’s shutout was the fifth straight opening day win. Up next, the Ketts face the Falmouth Commodores Monday night at 6 p.m. ET in the second road game of the year. The home opener is slotted for Tuesday against the Bourne Braves with first pitch at 5 p.m. ET.
Reporter’s Notebook: Takeaways from the game
By Clara Richards | Washington University in St. Louis
- The Kettleers’ entire batting order was deadly from top to bottom. Cam Collier (Chipola), the seventeen-year-old potential first round draft pick, hit ninth as the DH. Lomavita hit a leadoff single as the cleanup hitter to start off the second inning, and Kade Kern (Ohio State) batted sixth and was unstoppable on the base paths. The majority of the offensive work was done by the later half of the lineup. It’s also worthwhile to consider who wasn’t on the starting lineup today; Chandler Simpson (Georgia Tech) led the nation in batting average during the regular season, batting 0.422, but he didn’t see playing time. Roberts has a lot of options, and it will be interesting to see how he leverages those assets as the roster solidifies.
- In the later portion of the second inning, echoes of “Moose” bounced through the dugout in a low pitched chorus. Williams stepped up to the plate. In his first gameday at-bat in the Cape Cod League, he shifted all 255 pounds of his 6’5 frame back and swung long. With a crack of the bat, the ball was projected into left field, the crowd in the bleachers on their feet as it fell just past the fence. Looking at Williams, It’s easy to classify him as a power hitter, but today, he showed that he shouldn’t be valued just for his size alone. He consistently executed play after play at first base, a consistent anchor in a group that has a lot of competitive infielders competing for starting spots. He also showed surprising speed in the first scrimmage against the Lexington Blue Sox, stealing second before getting caught stealing at third. “I’ve learned a lot here in just a week or two,” Williams reflected. “I feel more comfortable hitting than I almost ever have, and I’m seeing better pitchers.”
- After a week in Mike Roberts’ baserunning camp, this lineup showed that they can and will put pressure on the pitchers if they reach first base. During the second inning, Lomavita and Victor Scott II (West Virginia University) executed an elegant double steal. If the runners had shown any hesitation, they would have been vulnerable to a double play and two outs, but instead, they executed a textbook offensive effort. Exactly a week ago in their scrimmages, the team hinted at their speed but struggled with committing to the play, and it showed, with several steals caught in the act. In their first official matchup, though, the Kettleers stole six bases in six innings, unnerving the opposing pitchers. The teams both landed four hits, but the baserunning was a difference-maker for the Kettleers and allowed them to take such a commanding victory. Kern in particular highlighted his speed against the Anglers; he scored twice from second on a passed ball, two gutsy plays from the left fielder. “I’m a guy that likes to steal bases, so I like [Roberts’ playing style],” he said. “But he gets guys that don’t typically steal to steal, so he’s getting everybody moving, something that most teams don’t do, but I think that’s helped us.”