By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
Ryan Galanie (Wofford) has a history of coming in clutch for the Cotuit Kettleers.
The second-year third baseman’s biggest moment in 2022 came on a homer in a Game 2 win against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the first round of the CCBL playoffs. On Friday, he made his return from injury after nine days and hit a long ball in a 12-1 win against the Falmouth Commodores.
On Monday, Galanie had maybe his biggest hit yet for the Ketts against the Orleans Firebirds at Lowell Park in a 5-2 win.
“It's nice to be out here and playing again. The injury wasn't anything huge but it was something I had to be a little bit cautious about. Luckily with the help of Steve Harris and trainer Dan out here, I feel great, feel back to normal and feel even better than I was before.”
Entering the game in the top of the seventh inning as a defensive substitution in a 0-0 game, Galanie would have to wait for his first plate appearance of the evening as Caleb Lomavita (Cal) led off the inning against Firebirds reliever Cam Leiter (UCF).
Leiter punched out the Cotuit catcher on a 96-mph fastball but soon lost the ability to locate the heater. Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) put a two-strike fastball in play up the middle and beat out the throw from Orleans shortstop Andy Blake (Duke) for an infield single. Leiter proceeded to walk the next two batters while primarily using his four-seamer to load the bases and bring up Galanie.
Firebirds manager Kelly Nicholson opted for another right-hander in Nathan Ward (Grand Canyon) out of the bullpen. The Antelope threw two off-speed pitches to put the count at 1-1 before missing high with a fastball.
Ward went to the well one too many times, as Galanie crushed a breaking ball over the heart of the plate over the left-centerfield fence to give the Kettleers a 4-0 lead. It was the second grand slam for Cotuit just 15 games into this season.
“I try not to sit on pitches, I just try and hit. And I got a pitch to hit right there and I was just ready to do my job. Tried to get a ball in the air and luckily it flew out of here.”
The lat four-run lead late allowed Cotuit to see their game plan on the pitching side come to fruition. Looking to finish a stretch of nine games in a row strong, the Kettleers wanted their best arms to control the contest.
Pitching Ninja Pitcher of the Week Camron Hill (Georgia Tech) made his first start for Cotuit after four scoreless outings to begin his summer. On the same day the 6-foot-6 southpaw was given the honor, Hill pitched his best outing of the season.
“Now that I was starting today I tried to mix in all three pitches a little bit more,” said Hill. “The strikeouts come and that’s fine, but getting outs any way I can is always more important.”
Hill turned in four perfect innings as the starter, striking out four and inducing plenty of weak contact. He turned the ball over to fellow left-hander Rafe Schlesinger (Miami) for the next three innings.
The Hurricane lost the combined perfect game bid in the top of the sixth inning after allowing a single to Eddie King (Louisville), but worked around a two-out infield single that put runners on the corners for the Firebirds. Schlesinger retired the side in the seventh inning to hold Orleans at zero and drop his season ERA to under one. After Galanie’s grand slam, it lined him up for his first win of the season.
Noah Ruen (Tyler Junior College) came in for his first appearance in six games for the final six outs. He ran into some trouble in the top of the eighth and gave up two runs on Owen Carapellotti (Georgetown) and Edward Micheletti Jr. (George Washington) RBI singles.
Orleans continued to string together hits, and a Blake single to left field looked destined to cut the Cotuit lead to one before Ryan Waldschmidt (Kentucky) gunned runner Jake Casey (Kent State) down at home plate and ended the frame.
The Kettleers added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a Waldschmidt sacrifice fly before Ruen settled down in the ninth to close out Cotuit’s league-best 10th win.
“It was set up for those three guys. We wanted three pitchers,” said Cotuit manager Mike Roberts. “We wanted to do exactly what happened; 4-3-2 [innings] and it was fine.”
The Kettleers will hit the road after an off day to face the Brewster Whitecaps at Stony Brook Elementary School on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.