By Joe Pratt | Baylor University
Cotuit, MA — For the first time of the summer, Cotuit smashed two homers in a single contest. Brooks Baldwin (UNC Wilmington) and Tyler Johnson (Coastal Carolina) delivered a two run and a solo homer, respectively. It was the first home runs since Ryan Ritter’s (University of Kentucky) bomb on Tuesday against Wareham, another late-game dinger.
Kenya Huggins’ (Chipola) threw a fastball to his first batter that clocked in at a blazing 97 mph. Still, that’s not the ceiling for the Ketts 6-foot-2 righthander, as he reached almost 99 mph at the MLB Draft Combine in San Diego last weekend.
But the batters of Chatham were able to make contact early on. Huggins let up a ripped single down the first-base line, followed by a full-count walk, to put runners on first and second with two outs. It was one of five full-counts that Higgins reached in three innings of work, and he pitched over seventy throughout his first outing of the year. A single right back up the middle brought home the runner on second for the first runs of the game and a 1-0 lead for the Anglers. Huggins allowed one more run in the top of the third after walking a batter who eventually scored on a single. Chris Stuart (University of Texas) replaced Huggins at the start of the fourth frame.
Chris Stuart came in for the fourth after struggling on Wednesday night. Stuart went 0.1 IP, allowing a run on two hits after facing only three batters in his earlier outing. Tonight, he was given another shot and delivered a perfect three outs with a couple of groundouts and a strikeout.
“It was good; you gotta get out there and just attack the strike zone,” Stuart said, “I talked to Coach Roberts this morning, and he was just like, “Just get out there [settle in],” and that’s what I did.”
Cotuit earned their first mark in the bottom of the third when two walks issued to Cam Collier (Chipola) and Caleb Lomavita (Cal Berkley) kicked off the inning. Chandler Simpson (Georgia Tech) came up to bat as the lineup turned over, but the second baseman bounded the ball into a 4-6-3 double play. But during Victor Scott’s (West Virginia) at-bat, Chatham’s starter Joe Miller (University of Pennsylvania) spiked a fastball into the dirt and Cam Collier rushed across the plate for the Ketts’ first run.
A four-run fourth inning was the turning point in the game for Cotuit, starting with Zach Cole (Ball State), the first batter of the rally. Cole was hit by the pitch and earned a pass to first before displaying some of coach Mike Robert’s renowned small-ball gameplans. Roberts turned on a hit-and-run with Kade Kern (Ohio State) at the dish. Kern delivered an opposite-field knock for a single, putting Cole, who had a head-start from first, on the other corner of the diamond. C.J. Kayfus (Miami) entered the contest hitting .352 and has used his legs for almost half of his base hits, and laid down a bunt-single to score Zach Cole from third. Recently-named collegiate Gold Glove Award winner Ryan Ritter was up with two gone. He had already had six RBIs in nine games played before Thursday night and boosted the Ketts into the lead with a 2-RBI double and Cotuit took a 4-2 lead after four innings of play.
The Kettleers’ bats came back firing in the fifth with another lead-off base runner in Simpson. Simpson singled and was quickly on third after a steal and a wild pitch. After Victor Scott walked, Robert’s attempted a double-steal with runners on the corners. The Anglers’ catcher zipped a ball to the shortstop who immediately relayed the ball back home trying to cut down Simpson sprinting from third. The throw arrived earlier than Simpson expected and he was forced to leap over the catcher’s glove and dive on home plate to score the fifth run. While from the crowd’s perspective, it may have looked like a sure out, the umpire called it fair. Victor Scott ended up stealing both second and third, allowing him to score easily on Brooks Baldwin’s (UNC-Wilmington) single to right.
In the sixth inning, Simpson was the Ketts’ fifth consecutive lead-off baserunner. But Simpson was gunned down trying to steal second during Victor Scott’s at-bat. After Scott walked and stole a bag, Brooks Baldwin came up looking to further dig himself out of a five-game slump. In the past five bids leading up to Thursday, Baldwin was 5-for-21, a .238 average. Baldwin had worked the count full when he barreled up a ball, which sailed just a few feet left of the right-field foul pole for a 2-run homer.
“I haven’t been seeing the ball great lately, and the first couple of at-bats were tough again tonight,” Baldwin said, “and I kind of just made an adjustment went over there went to a no stride, and kind of tried to use my hands a little more, tried to make more consistent contactt and put a good swing on one.”
The offense topped itself off in the eighth when Tyler Johnson launched a solo shot to deep left-center in his fourth at-bat of the season. Overall, the offense recovered after an actionless first three innings. The Ketts reached their season-high in strikeouts as a team with 12 Ks as a team. Cotuit was back on the aggressive stealing path, succeeding six out of eight times.
Cotuit welcomes the Harwich Mariners on Friday night for their first meeting of the summer. As always, first pitch is set for 5 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on the Mixlr mobile app.
by Clara Richards | Washington University in St. Louis
- Kenya Huggins stepped on the mound, stared at catcher Caleb Lomavita’s mitt, and hurled a fastball. It popped in Lomavita’s glove, registering 95 for a strike. The second strike registered 96, and the third pitch thrown was 97 just off the plate. In his first appearance for the Ketts, Huggins showed his projectability, throwing some of the highest velocity pitches that the Ketts have seen while still nineteen at Chipola Junior College.
Huggins returned from the MLB Draft Combine earlier this week, a trip full of long travel days. After flying across the country to San Diego, Huggins was fresh and ready to pitch, and he was rewarded with an impressive trip, his fastball hitting 98.8. Still, he fought off nerves when he first stepped foot on the mound for the Ketts. “I’ve never been in a situation where there were a lot of scouts or fans out there,” he said.
Huggins’ arsenal includes a slider, but he said that it is more effective to right-handed batters. The first seven hitters in the Anglers’ lineup were lefties, meaning that he was relegated to throwing mostly fastballs. “I wouldn’t say I didn’t have a secondary pitch, but I really couldn’t get to it today, because I kept facing lefty after lefty,” Huggins said. In 4.2 innings pitched, he registered three hits and two earned runs, striking out two batters.
“I thought Kenya Huggins really showed a lot of composure on the mound,” Roberts said. “I was thrilled.”
- Tyler Johnson (Coastal Carolina) made the most of an opportunity to pinch-hit in the eighth, taking the mound and nuking a home run in his fourth at-bat for the Kettleers. Johnson is a new face to the Ketts and is a versatile position player, primarily playing the outfield. During his senior year, he averaged .357 at the plate and slugged .754 with 19 home runs. Johnson picked up Atlantic All-Region second-team honors, and he has already been putting the time in under head coach Mike Roberts’ tutelage. He said that under Roberts, he has been focusing on a horizontal swing instead of a vertical swing, and that attention to detail paid off in his at-bats today.
- With players having returned from the draft combine, there has been an influx of position players. For the previous two games, it felt like the group was remembering how to play as a cohesive unit, and it showed in the errors on the field. But today in the fourth, as Kade Kern hammered the first hit of the game, it felt like this club clicked back into gear. They recorded ten hits in the last four innings played to take the victory.
Roberts said on his end, he didn’t have to make any adjustments between the last tie and today’s game. “Honestly, I just let them play,” he said. “It’s such a great group of guys, and they kinda make their own adjustments. we got behind, and here they win again. They like to play the game, they have a good feel for the game, so really, I’m just trying to leave them alone.”