By: Shane Petagna (The University of Tampa)
CHATHAM, Mass. – When facing a team for the second time in three games, it would make sense that batters become more familiar with the pitch mix and thus have more success.
Camron Hill (Georgia Tech) didn’t care about that logic on Sunday night at Veterans Field, as he sat down nearly every Chatham batter he faced. Thanks in part to his dominant outing, the Cotuit Kettleers won their CCBL-best sixth game by a score of 6-2.
Hill was the first relief pitcher out of the bullpen after starter Isaiah Coupet (Ohio State) went 3 1/3 innings pitched and allowed just two hits and no runs. The 6-foot-6 left-hander somehow managed to outperform Coupet, who was making his final start before heading to Arizona to participate in the MLB Draft Combine.
Hill struck out six of the nine batters he faced, with an infield single being the only blemish on an otherwise perfect stat line.
“It’s just a fearless attitude because they've already seen everything you got at that point and faced them for the second straight game,” said Hill. “But you just stick to your game plan and go full intent, full conviction and it worked out tonight.”
Entering the game with a 4-0 lead helped Hill pitch with authority. Cotuit threatened to score in the first two innings but came through on some huge two-out hits in the third and fourth.
The first pair of runs came as a result of Tanner Thach (UNC Wilmington) and Michael Carico (Davidson) reaching safely to begin the top of the third inning. A failed sacrifice bunt attempt and popup made it seem like the Kettleers would strand another runner in scoring position early before Rodney Green Jr. (Cal) stepped up to bat.
Green Jr. knocked a grounder past the Chatham second baseman’s backhand try into center field to bring in the first run of the game. The next batter Cannon Peebles (NC State) put one through the hole on the right side of the infield to bring in Carico and put Cotuit up 2-0.
In the next inning, another rally began with Thach’s second hit of the night and Carico getting on base being the catalyst. This time, right fielder Brett Bateman (Minnesota) drove both men in on a double out of the reach of Chatham centerfielder Lyle Miller-Green (Austin Peay) as the Anglers were a strike away from getting out of it.
“That's the little things that you execute. Those little things matter and that just shows that we're not taking a pitch off,” Peebles said about the two-out RBIs. “We're doing the right thing, we're playing hard, kind of passing the torch as we say at the plate. Those are huge.”
A pair of bases-loaded walks in the top of the sixth inning scored the final two runs for Cotuit in the contest. However, Chatham showed some life late in the game and brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.
Cam Schuelke (College of Central Florida) began the inning and found success with his submarine slider, striking out the first two batters with the pitch before running into trouble by allowing back-to-back singles to bring in a run and walking the next hitter. Terry Busse (Georgia Tech) was brought in next, but coach Mike Roberts had a quick hook for the sophomore right-hander after an eight-pitch walk loaded the bases for the Anglers.
Roberts opted for Robert Hughes (Clemson) to get out of the jam in his Kettleers debut. Hughes struck out Tate Ballestero (St. John’s) swinging on a changeup in a huge spot to end the threat.
“I coach by my gut most of the time and I felt like that Hughes, even though I didn't know much about him, I felt like from what little I did know was that he was a strike thrower,” said Roberts. “And when you got the bases loaded, you want to throw strikes, and he did a marvelous job.”
Hughes stayed in for the ninth inning and ended the game on a strikeout, the 16th of the night for Kettleers pitching.
“I was up two years ago and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to come up here again and just throw,” said Hughes.
Cotuit returns home on Monday to host the Harwich Mariners for a fifth straight game against East Division opponents. The Ketts are 3-1 over the stretch.