Cotuit stumbles
Bourne sweeps Kets, claims West crown

 August 11, 2005


       The Bourne Braves made short work of the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs this week, beating the Kets Tuesday and Wednesday to win the Western Division playoff championship.

Bourne also won the regular season race in the division, amassing 53 points (26-17-1), six more than second-place Cotuit (22-19-3).

The Kets got strong pitching in the two playoff games but were mistake-prone in other areas in both games, as Bourne won 3-1 at Coady Field Tuesday and 5-2 at Lowell Park the next day.

“We just really did not play fundamentally good baseball offensively or defensively,” said manager Mike Roberts.

The evidence was there for all to see, including ESPN baseball guru and newly-minted National Baseball Hall of Famer Peter Gammons, who was at Tuesday’s game clad unobtrusively in a faded t-shirt and shorts. 

Tuesday’s starting pitcher, Nathan Culp, pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits, and Daniel Moskos followed with 2 1/3 innings of no-hit relief, though he forced in a runner with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth. Wednesday, the Braves’ first three runs were unearned. Starter Barret Browning went 7 1/3 innings to absorb the no-justice loss.

“He pitched really well,” Roberts said. 

But the Kets didn’t do the small things a team has to accomplish to win without a significant power game. On Tuesday, they failed three times to execute sacrifice bunts. Their efforts resulted in a pop out, a strikeout, and a lead runner gunned down.

On Wednesday, when an attempted sacrifice was popped up with men on first and second, the result was even worse. It seemed the Kets might have gotten a break when the catcher failed to catch the pop-up, but instead, he grabbed the ball and fired to third to start a rare 2-5-4 double play. Instead of having men on second and third with one out, the Kets had a man on first with two out. The threat came to nothing.

Cotuit’s run came in the second, when team MVP Sean Gaston led off with a double, advanced on Devin Thomas’ single and scored on Shane Jordan’s base hit.

Bourne tied it in the fourth on a double and an RBI single, both with two out.

The winning run came in the sixth, the product of a pair of singles, a successful sacrifice bunt and a grounder that was first deflected by Culp and then took a bad hop on second baseman Brad Boyer. Had Culp fielded the ball cleanly, he would have had a play at the plate. As it was, Boyer thought about throwing home before settling for the sure out at first. In many way, the losses reflected the team’s season. Roberts’ starting rotation, made up primarily of pitchers going into the junior or senior years in college, performed very consistently, he said, and closer Chris Tonneguzzi was, in the coach’s word, “outstanding.” Younger pitchers filled the middle relief roles.

“I feel our pitching kept us in it all season,” Roberts said.

But at the plate and on the bases, the team didn’t perform as well as he had hoped. Roberts called the base-running, bunting and advancing runners “average.”

“I was disappointed,” Roberts said. “I thought we would do a better job of that.”

Without a lot of power at the plate, the baserunning and situational hitting deficiencies “hurt us in what we had hoped to do offensively,” he said. In the end, though, Roberts had nothing but praise for the team in terms of work ethic and attitude.

“The players made it very easy for me,” he said, “because they were so cooperative.”

Gaston called it “a really big honor” to be selected by his teammates as the Kets’ Most Valuable Player.

“To come from the guys, it means a lot,” he said. “Having their respect is the most important thing to me.”

Roberts also lauded the catcher as one of the few he has seen in recent years who treats the position as baseball’s version of a take-charge quarterback.

“He is energetic,” Roberts said. “He’s involved in every pitch. He’s interested in every pitch.... He leads by his work habits and he appreciates the game.”

Roberts, who said Wednesday he had not discussed the 2006 season with Kets management but would welcome an opportunity to return, is an unabashed Cape League booster.

“I would like to thank all the fans ion the Cape League, in every town,” he said. “The fans help make this the best amateur baseball league in the world.”

By David Curran


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