By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
Wareham, MA – It all boiled down to one bad inning for the Cotuit Kettleers in a 7-2 loss to the Wareham Gatemen on Saturday in a game full of back-and-forth action in the middle innings.
The scoring didn’t start until the fourth inning, thanks to good starting pitching from both sides. For Cotuit, Cole Mathis (College of Charleston) toed the Spillane Field rubber for his first start of the summer and turned in another great performance just as the Kettleers have seen in all 13 games to start the season.
“The only way we can maintain some tempo to win is that you got to have really good starting pitching. You never know, but I think we have a chance to have respectable starting pitching,” said coach Mike Roberts. “And I really believe as we add pitchers as guys leave, I think our bullpen is in the process of getting stronger.”
The two-way player threw three scoreless innings and allowed two hits the first time through the Wareham order. As he went out for the bottom of the fourth inning, Mathis retired the first two batters before Landon Wallace (West Virginia) stepped in the box for his second at-bat. Mathis fell behind in the count and paid for it, giving up a solo home run to center field to open the scoring.
The Ketts would answer back in the next half-inning and take the lead. A walk and hit batsman led to a pair of two-out base runners for Cotuit No. 9 hitter Kalae Harrison (NC State). The middle infielder continued a hot start to the summer and tied the game with a single to centerfield to notch his third consecutive game with an RBI.
“I try and stay smooth out there,” said Harrison. “Stay clean, play clean baseball, and try and make every play I possibly can out there and then in the box just doing whatever my name is called for.”
Turning the lineup over, leadoff hitter Emelien Pitre (Kentucky) followed up with an infield single that scored another run to give the Ketts a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning.
However, the Gatemen would respond right back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cotuit turned to the bullpen and right-handed reliever Chase Hopewell (Cincinnati), who had his first shaky outing of the summer after not allowing a run entering the night.
Hopewell lost some control after putting away the first two batters in the inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for catcher Ryan Campos (Arizona State). Facing a 2-1 count, Hopewell threw three fastballs close enough to the zone that warranted a warning to Roberts for arguing balls and strikes. The end result was a full-count walk to tie the game.
Hopewell struck out the next batter to end the fifth but couldn’t regain his footing as he returned to the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning. He surrendered a go-ahead solo homer on the first pitch of the frame to Bobby Boser (USF) and Wareham never looked back.
After a one-out single, sidearmer Carson Ozmer (Penn) replaced Hopewell but struggled to establish his presence on the mound. Three hits and a walk brought in three more runs for the Gateman to give them a 6-2 lead before Ozmer could record an out.
Wareham used three relievers to stifle the Cotuit offense after tying the game in the fifth inning. A huge outfield assist by Nick McLain (Arizona State) nabbed a potential go-ahead run for the Kettleers in the top of the sixth inning, and two runners were caught stealing throughout the contest by Campos from behind the plate.
Chance Daquila (Campbell) pitched a huge shutdown inning for the Gatemen in the top of the seventh and tossed a scoreless eighth before Wareham added one more run in the bottom of the inning. Lucas Mahlstedt (Wofford) threw a perfect top of the ninth inning to end the game.
Cotuit fell to 9-4 with the loss but maintained the best record in the Cape League. The Kettleers return to Lowell Park for a two-game homestand, beginning with another Tucker Novotny (Minnesota) start against the Bourne Braves at 5 p.m. on Sunday.