The last few years of the 20th century saw a contrast in success between the Cotuit and Hyannis baseball teams in the Cape Cod League.
Hyannis was in the midst of a six-year drought where the Mets did not even qualify for the playoffs; mired in third, fourth or fifth place finishes. At the same time, the Kettleers sandwiched two championships around a mini drought of their own where they went three years without qualifying
Just the same, Cotuit kept its stronghold on league supremacy with its 13th (1995) and 14th (1999) Cape League championships, the most of any franchise.
The championships also nicely paralleled the coaching career of Cotuit manager Mike Coutts who won a title with the team in 1995, had a two-year hiatus from the CCBL during 1997 and 1998, and then returned to championship glory for the 1999 season.
Year W-L Place Playoffs
1995 29-11-3 1st Won Cape League championship
1996 23-19-2 3rd Did not qualify
1997 21-21-2 4th Did not qualify
1998 18-22-4 5th Did not qualify
1999 26-18-0 1st Won Cape League championship
Year W-L Place Playoffs
1995 22-20-1 3rd Did not qualify
1996 20-24-0 4th Did not qualify
1997 19-23-2 5th Did not qualify
1998 19-22-3 3rd Did not qualify
1999 18-24-2 4th Did not qualify
The Kettleers went 3-1-2 over the final week of the season to finish first in the Western Division ahead of second-place Wareham. Then in the opener of the semifinal series, the Gatemen took game one, 3-1, before Cotuit came back to tie the series with a ten-inning 4-2 win in game two.
The third game was a nail-biter as the game remained scoreless going into the bottom of the eighth in a brilliant pitcher’s duel between Cotuit’s Ryan Lynch and Wareham’s Denny Stark. The Kettleers finally reached Stark in the last of the eighth when Ronnie Barassi led off with a single to left, Diego Rico reached on a bunt single and Jesse Zepeda moved both runners up with another bunt. Doug Livingston hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to drive in the game’s lone run. Lynch (seven hits, six Ks) retired the Gatemen in order to send Cotuit to the finals.
In game one of the finals, both teams scored early and often as the game was knotted 6-6 in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Josh Paul hit a two-run homer and Tim DeCinces went back-to-back to make it 9-6 Cotuit. The Kettleers then erupted for seven more runs and gave reliever Jason Grilli a ten-run lead, 16-6, which would be the final.
After Cotuit suffered a 9-3 loss in game two, Chatham held a 2-1 lead going into the fifth inning of the clinching game before Cotuit exploded for seven runs in the fifth. Doug Livingston and Josh Paul had consecutive doubles to tie the game 2-2. A walk to Tim DeCinces and a Brandon Berger bunt single loaded the bases before a wild pitch made it 3-2 Kettleers. Glenn Davis followed with a three-run homer to put the game out of reach 6-2. Jesse Zepeda’s two-run triple and DeCinces’ single made the final 9-3.
Cotuit starter Josh Gandy went 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and struck out five before Kevin Sheredy came on in relief in the eighth to seal up the win and the CCL title for the Kettleers. Paul and Gandy were presented with playoff co-MVP honors.
Conversely, Hyannis would lead the league in nine different regular season offensive categories, including team batting average, home runs and RBI. However, the Mets finished just two games over .500 at 22-20-1, a distant 16 points (eight games) behind first-place Cotuit.
The two biggest woes for the Mets were pitching and defense. Hyannis finished last or second-to-last, respectively, in both, as well as the highest ERA in the in the league with a 4.80 mark, and gave up the most runs (253) and most earned runs (193) in the league.
After finishing in first place in the Western Division for the second time in five years, Cotuit went out and captured its 14th Cape Cod Baseball League title with a two-games to one finale against Chatham.
In the semifinals, the Kettleers went up against second place finishing Wareham whose longtime head coach Don Reed was calling it quits at the end of the playoffs (after a Cape-leading 334 career wins). There, the Kettleers completed a three-game sweep, after squeaking out one run victories (4-3 and 1-0) in the first two games.
Cotuit pitcher Andy Warren allowed only two hits over nine innings in the game three clincher, for a 5-0 victory. Garret Atkins belted a 340-foot home run in the third inning, scoring Shawn Pearson and Chase Utley ahead of him. Daryl Hallada would later hit a solo shot of his own for all the runs Warren needed.
The Kettleers went on to face defending champion Chatham in the finals and dropped the opening game 9-4 and seemed to be watching their chance at a title slipping away. Cotuit trailed 2-1 in game two, going into the last of the ninth.
Shawn Pearson and Garrett Atkins got the inning going for Cotuit by reaching base before Jason Colson drove in Pearson to tie the game at 2-2. Then Daryl Hallada’s single scored Atkins for the walk-off 3-2 win to even the series at a victory apiece.
Before a crowd estimated at around 7,000, Cotuit gave starter Mike Schultz an early 4-0 lead and it was more than enough to coast to a 7-1 victory in the 1999 championship-clinching game.
Garrett Atkins, who was later selected the playoff MVP, had an RBI single in the first to give Cotuit a 1-0 lead and then in the third led off with a solo home run. In the fourth, the Kettleers got run-producing singles by Andy Cannizaro and Rich Thompson.
Atkins led the way with three hits, Cannizaro had two hits and two RBI, while Thompson and Shawn Pearson had two hits and each drove in a run. Pearson rounded out scoring with a ninth inning homer. In winning the MVP Award, Atkins went 9 for 23 (.391) in six games, with two homers and eight RBI.
In a fitting gesture, championship trophy was named – for the first time – the Arnold Mycock trophy. It was fitting because the Kettleers received the trophy named for the team’s longtime patriarch.
Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at [email protected].