By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
HYANNIS, Mass. – One week after a historic blown lead in a 7-6 loss to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in 10 innings, the rematch at McKeon Park on Thursday came down to another six-run inning.
This time, it was in the favor of the Cotuit Kettleers, who put together a large lead early in the contest and cruised to an 8-0 win.
“I just think the guys can handle the bat pretty well,” said manager Mike Roberts. “We're willing to hit and run, bunt, cheat swing, whatever we need to do, and the guys have practiced.”
The Kettleers put it all together in the top of the third inning, with the first three batters reaching base to start the frame. Cotuit struck first on a Ryan Galanie (Wofford) opposite-field single that moved the runners from station to station. The Ketts added another as the next batter Tanner Thach (UNCW) chopped one to Hyannis first baseman Austin Kelly (Lipscomb) but bounced the throw home, leaving everyone safe.
Up 2-0 with the bases still loaded and no outs, designated hitter Cole Mathis (College of Charleston) stepped up to bat. Hyannis starter Zachary Voelker (Iowa) hung a breaking ball at the top of the zone that Mathis was all over, depositing it into the trees beyond the left field fence for Cotuit’s third grand slam of the season.
“What I've always said is by the first week of July, we hope to have more continuity than you ever have in June,” said Roberts. “And so we're approaching that first week in July and I like our offensive continuity right now.”
The six-run third inning made up the bulk of a 14-hit night for the Ketts, but the pitching was just as impressive across a combined three-hit shutout.
Chris Kahler (George Washington) came off his previous start of five shutout innings against Hyannis on June 22 and nearly replicated it. The right-hander shut down the Harbor Hawks offense for five more scoreless innings in which he didn’t allow the lone hit on his line until the bottom of the fifth inning.
Kahler handed the ball off to Jacob Shafer (UNCW) for the next three innings in his Kettleer debut. The 6-foot-7 right-hander touched 94 mph on his fastball as he continued to stifle the Hyannis bats, allowing two hits while walking one.
Cotuit added a pair of runs as icing on the cake in the late innings on another Galanie RBI single in the top of the sixth inning and a solo home run from Shafer’s Seahawk teammate Thach in the top of the eighth inning. Noah Ruen (Tyler Junior College) came in for the final three outs in a game the Kettleers controlled for nearly every pitch.
Cotuit’s 12th win keeps the Kettleers ahead of the second-place Wareham Gateman who travel to Lowell Park on Friday for a big West Division matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.