Updated: Jun 21
By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
BOURNE, Mass. – In the bottom of the eighth inning, Bourne Braves right fielder Kavi Caster (Salisbury) stepped up to bat for the third time of the evening with one out. 0-2 on the night with two strikeouts, he chopped a fastball from Cotuit Kettleers relief pitcher Chase Hopewell (Cincinnati) with enough on it to get through the infield for a base hit.
It was Bourne’s first of the game.
Cotuit used three arms to put on a pitching clinic in a 3-0 win Tuesday at Doran Park, allowing two hits in total and improving to a 7-2 record on the season.
The Kettleers started the night with another scoreless outing from left-hander Tucker Novotny (Minnesota). One week ago, on June 13 against the Braves, the southpaw turned in three shutout innings while allowing three hits.
He was even better the second time around on the Doran Park mound. Novotny skirted around two walks in the top of the first inning, inducing a double play and the first of six strikeouts to post a zero in the frame.
“In both of the games, the first inning was really shaky,” said Novotny. “I just kind of had to find my groove and get it going and once I did tonight it went really well.”
After hitting the leadoff batter to start the second inning, Novotny retired the next 11 batters before handing the ball to Hopewell with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Hopewell picked up right where Novotny left off, as the right-hander put away the first eight batters he faced to make up his 2 2/3 innings pitched with two strikeouts before the single to Caster.
“I felt sorry. That was my first emotion,” said Hopewell. “But at the same time, I gave it my all, he just got lucky with one.”
Cotuit manager Mike Roberts opted for closer Noah Ruen (Tyler Junior College) to get the last five outs, sticking to the plan regardless of the combined no-hitter at play entering the eighth inning.
“We had set it up and wanted Hopewell to pitch to the two left-handed hitters, and then bring in Noah,” said Roberts. “I wouldn't manage any different.”
Ruen continued his seamless start to the season, earning his CCBL-leading third save after recording the last two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and facing the minimum in the ninth. All three pitchers used by Cotuit have yet to allow an earned run this season across multiple appearances.
“I told them I thought that was like a professional high-A baseball game. I thought Novotny and Hopewell and Ruen were beautiful out there tonight,” said Roberts. “They threw strikes, they drove the ball into the catcher's mitt and challenged hitters.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Kettleers' offense did enough to secure a win. After stranding a runner in scoring position in each of the three innings prior, Cotuit took the lead as Jay Harry (Penn State) ran home safely on a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning.
That scoring chance was set up by a two-out walk from Harry, who then went from first to third base on a Brett Bateman (Minnesota) bloop single to center field.
Bateman came through again in the seventh inning on another single up the middle, his fourth of the night, that brought two runners home to increase the Kettleers' lead to three. Bateman extended his hit streak to eight to begin the 2023 summer and improved his batting average to .519, the best in the Cape League.
“He's a hidden gem from the University of Minnesota. He is a good player in every aspect. I love coaching all these guys,” said Roberts. “Brett really gets me in regard to the style that I play. But he is just so very fundamentally sound and that helps him to be consistent.”
Cotuit remains atop the West Division standings with a two-game lead over the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Kettleers’ next two games will come against Hyannis, the team that ended their season in 2022, as the two rivals begin a home-and-home set. The first matchup is set for Wednesday at Lowell Park with first pitch scheduled at 5 p.m.