9 August 2008
THIS WEEK IN THE CAPE LEAGUE
Red-Hot Cotuit beats Falmouth, 6-4,
In Game 1 of West Division Playoffs
COTUIT, Mass. -- The Cotuit Kettleers couldn’t have picked a better time to get hot. The newly crowned Cape Cod Baseball League West Division champions reeled off their fifth straight victory Saturday afternoon, beating the Falmouth Commodores, 6-4, at Lowell Park in the first game of the best-of-three divisional playoffs.
Left-hander Nick Hernandez (Tennessee), who entered the playoffs with a 6-3 record and a 2.54 ERA, pitched six innings against the Commodores, striking out eight and picking up another win.
Hernandez admitted after the game that he felt a little more pressure than usual starting the first game in a short playoff series. “Whenever you play a game, whether it’s in summer ball or at school, you always want to be on top,” he said. “I felt like I had to make more pitches tonight … in a playoff game, every pitch counts. One mistake in the playoffs is different than one mistake in a regular-season game.”
Falmouth struck first with a run in the first inning as Kevin Nolan (Winthrop) brought Trevor Coleman (Missouri) across the plate. But Cotuit answered with three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning and led the rest of the way. Kevin Patterson (Auburn), Evan Crawford (Indiana) and Dallas Poulk (NC State) each drove in runners before the inning was over.
Falmouth struck again in the second, but Cotuit countered as Jason Kipnis (Arizona State) stroked a two-run homer over the right field fence.
In the bottom of the fourth, Brett Jackson (Cal-Berkeley) doubled home catcher Joey Lewis (Georgia). Falmouth managed a run in the seventh as Travis Lawler (Florida) crossed crossed home plate on a wild pitch by Daniel Wolford (Cal Berkeley), but it was a case of too little, too late for the Commodores.
“We got behind early and they came out and swung the bats well,” said Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy, who recently won his 200th game in the Cape League. “I’m very pleased at the way we tried to come back, but Cotuit answered each time.”
Falmouth tried once again in the ninth inning to tie the game, but Cotuit closer Drew Storen (Stanford) slammed the door.
The Kettleers, who hit a rough patch in the middle of their season after losing a few key players, have been on a hot streak since the All-Star Game, rolling to a 9-1-1 record entering the playoffs.
One reasons for Cotuit’s success, according to skipper Mike Roberts, is the maturing of his players over the course of the season. “All the players, not just one or two, were interested in improving their individual skills while we were still struggling as a team,” said Roberts. “A lot of individuals got better. Poulk, for example, was struggling at second. Dallas went to right field, then DH’d for two or three weeks, then came back to the infield. He’s just matured, and because he matured, we got better.”
Roberts reminded a reporter that “I’ve never won a playoff game before. I’m just enjoying the fact we won.”
Roberts led the Kettleers to the West Division title in 2006 only to see his team eliminated in the divisional series by losing two one-run games to Bourne. Cotuit last won the league championship in 1999, defeating the Chatham A’s in a three-game final series.
Cotuit and Falmouth square off in game two Sunday under the lights at Guv Fuller Field starting at 7 p.m.
Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
Interns 2008: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Stefanie Marini, Laura Rasmussen