By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
COTUIT, Mass. – Cam Schuelke (College of Central Florida) was the 2022 CCBL Reliever of the Year for good reason after posting an 0.81 ERA in 11 games.
Making his ninth appearance of the season for the Cotuit Kettleers, the submariner turned back the clock and turned in a perfect performance to earn the win in a 7-1 victory over the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Lowell Park on Saturday.
“Oh, I love Cam out there. I'm a huge Cam Shuelke fan,” said Cotuit manager Mike Roberts. “He was the fireman of the year last year, and today is the first time I've really seen that guy.”
Schuelke pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings while walking zero and striking out a season-high seven batters. The incoming Mississippi State transfer was working all over the strike zone and was especially effective with his frisbee slider below 70 mph or forcing sinkers in on the hands of right-handed hitters.
“Pitching and defense is the key. You got to throw quality strikes against a really good team like Y-D who is leading the other division,” said Roberts. “And I thought Janzen was the best he's been this summer and you can talk to him. He's really spent some time in the bullpen, trying to learn how to throw behind the ball better, and it was very obvious that of the improvement.”
Janzen Keisel (Oklahoma St.) made his first start since June 28 and showed off, throwing four complete innings and allowing one unearned run on three hits and one walk. The flamethrower struck out the side in the first inning and was perfect through two before the Red Sox scratched one across in the top of the third inning.
The first-place Kettleers entered scoring six or more runs in their last six contests with a complete outpouring of offense but used some small ball and productive outs in the rest of the early innings to produce scores. Cotuit had taken a 1-0 lead in the frame prior on a Grant Norris (Penn St.) solo home run and regained the lead in the bottom of the third inning.
“We stole a couple of bases and played a little bit [of small ball],” said Roberts. “The key though, is Mike Roberts backing off and me being disciplined and letting these guys play.”
Facing Week 3 Pitching Ninja Pitcher of the Week Smith Pinson (Kennesaw St.), Teo Banks (Tulane) notched an infield single and stole second base in two pitches later. On the next offering from Pinson, Carter Mathison (Indiana) laced a single through the right side to give Cotuit a 2-1 lead.
The next time at-bat, Cotuit turned a Caleb Lomavita (Cal) leadoff double into a run as Norris moved him up 90 feet with a single and an Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) sacrifice fly brought him in.
Pinson kept the bats in check for the rest of his outing, which lasted through the sixth inning. Once Yarmouth-Dennis called to the bullpen, the Kettleers offense reached their benchmark as the frame started with a leadoff bomb to straight away centerfield for Norris’ second homer of the day.
“I had a little bit of a role towards the end of the season with Penn State and that's something that I've never done before until then, so that definitely helped me a little bit,” Norris said of his role batting fourth in the lineup. “It's good when you have a team like this, you get a lot of guys on base to get a lot at-bats. So it's definitely been good here.”
Cotuit strung together hits throughout the rest of the inning. A Trey Yunger (Georgia Tech) single and stolen base set him up to score when Jacob Tobias (Arizona St.) drove him in on an opposite-field RBI double. After that, Tobias crossed home on Mathison’s third hit of the game and Cole Mathis (College of Charleston) finished the inning off with an RBI double down the left-field line.
“We have a really great group. Everyone's always loose, having fun, and I think that really helps,” said Norris. “It just kind of relieves the pressure a little bit and everyone's just going out there and playing like we are. We're a very talented group.”
The Kettleers look to keep their eight-game win streak going on Sunday as they travel to Eldredge Park for the final matchup of the season against the Orleans Firebirds. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.