By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
COTUIT, Mass. – The Cotuit Kettleers had just seen their eight-game win streak come to a close on Sunday after a walk-off defeat to the Orleans Firebirds on Sunday. The stretch of victories included the Cotuit offense scoring at least six runs in seven consecutive games and blowout triumphs like a 16-7 win at Hyannis and an 18-0 thumping of Wareham.
On Monday against the Bourne Braves at Lowell Park, the Kettleers found themselves on the receiving end of one in a 14-3 loss that became ugly quickly.
“We’re in real transition right now but our responsibility as the coaches is how well we handle the transition and how positively can we do this,” said Cotuit manager Mike Roberts to sideline reporter Lily Butler after the game. “So we’ve got some real challenges in front of us.”
Cotuit took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as a Teo Banks (Tulane) seeing-eye single brought in James McCoy (Kentucky). After that, the game was all Bourne.
The Braves scored 11 runs over the next two innings to coast to the win. Five of those runs came off All-Star starting pitcher Jake Gigliotti (Northeastern). The right-hander had been outstanding in all of his previous starts this summer but had also shown vulnerability in a relief outing against Falmouth on July 4, where he gave up 6 earned runs in three innings pitched.
The Bourne offense chased Gigliotti from the game after two innings as he couldn’t find success with his off-speed pitches. Sam Petersen (Iowa) gave the Braves the lead when he sent a first-pitch breaking ball over the fence to the opposite field for a two-run home run and Garrett Michel (Virginia Tech) went deep in the next at-bat on a two-strike changeup. The Braves tagged Gigliotti for two more runs on RBI singles by Bryce Eblin (Alabama) and Derek Bender (Coastal Carolina).
Mason Murdock (UNC Wilmington) entered in relief in the top of the third inning but failed to stop the bleeding. In his Cotuit debut, the Seahawk product failed to get out of the frame as he allowed six earned runs and walked six over 2/3 of an inning.
“I think the biggest area that we are going to have to really detail it is really in our overall pitching staff and that’s going to be the key moving forward,” said Roberts to Butler. “What does our starting pitching look like and how are we going to handle our bullpen?”
Brock Peery (Arizona St.) threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings after Murdock, but it was too little, too late for Cotuit as starter Tristan Smith (Clemson) and Max LeBlanc (UMass) shut down the Kettleers offense through a combined six innings pitched.
By the sixth inning, Cotuit put in McCoy to pitch for the sixth and seventh innings as Bourne put in their own position player in Eblin for the bottom of the seventh. By the end of the frame, both sides agreed they had seen enough and ended the game early with Bourne getting the win. The Kettleers were able to take away some positives, as new faces Trevor Haskins (Stanford) and Jack Scanlon (Miami) both drove in a run in the final inning.
“I enjoyed watching Trevor Haskins play shortstop. We knew he was coming since last fall but he’s been hurt the whole spring,” said Roberts to Butler. “It’s very obvious he’s a high-caliber shortstop with the plays we saw.”
Cotuit has a short week after an off day Tuesday, playing three games before the All-Star Game on Saturday. The Kettleers’ next contest comes on Wednesday as they host the Chatham Anglers for the final time this season at 5 p.m.