Kets close in on Patriot Cup
Back-to-back wins clinch tie in crosstown rivalry

 July 22, 2005


  The Cotuit Kettleers took two giant steps toward winning their first Barnstable Patriot Cup this week, defeating the Hyannis Mets Sunday at McKeon Field and Monday back home at Lowell Park. They have a three-games-to-one lead in the competition for the trophy awarded by the Patriot to the winner of the regular season series between the Cape League’s only crosstown rivals.

SIGN LANGUAGE - Alex Feinberg rounds third and heads for home, where his run gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the third inning of Monday’s Kets-Mets game at Cotuit. Hyannis manager Greg King (25) made the right call in sending Feinberg home on the play, but the Mets couldn’t break their losing streak, falling 6-3. 
David Curran/Barnstable Patriot

The Mets need to win both remaining contests between the two clubs, Thurday in Hyannis and on the last day of the season, Aug. 7 in Cotuit, to have a chance. And their combined victory margin will need to be at least eight runs.

That’s because the Kettleers won 7-1 on Sunday, the first really decisive win for either team head-to-head since the Cup was introduced last year. That margin, along with Monday’s 6-3 Cotuit triumph, gave the Kets an eight-run advantage in the tie-breaker if the teams split the six-game series. Josh Johnson (Mississippi State) threw seven innings of one-run ball to pick up the win Sunday. He scattered six hits while striking out seven and walking just one

He knew from his warm-up session in the bullpen he would have a good outing. “Some days you walk out on the mound, you feel like you’ve got it that day,” he said. “Today was one of those days.”

Johnson (3-0) said a key objective for him this summer was to regain his confidence, and he seems to have done that. All three of his starts have been strong, and his two relief appearances were none too shabby either. His earned run average is 1.71.

Brad Boyer (Arizona) led off the game with a home run for the Kets and added a pair of doubles, the second of which knocked in the team’s seventh run. Hyannis tied it in the second when Chris Johnson (Stetson) singled, stole second and came home on a single by Mark McGonigle (Houston).

Cotuit went ahead for good in the third. Todd Davison (Delaware) singled home the go-ahead run, then scored on a single by Bryan Harris (Louisiana State). Harris came around to score when Hyannis catcher Justin Tellam (Nevada-Las Vegas) tried to throw him out stealing second but no one covered the base, and the loose ball wasn’t retrieved in time to get him at the plate.

Devin Thomas (Brown) had a two-run double for Cotuit in the sixth. Cotuit scored in the first again Monday when Boyer led off the first inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on Davison’s ground out and crossed the plate on a passed ball.

Hyannis fought back to take a 2-1 lead with a two-out rally in the third. Alex Feinberg (Vanderbilt) singled, stole second, and scored as Chris Johnson reached on an error. Johnson stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single by Kyle Norrid (transferring from Tennessee to Memphis).

The Kets mounted a four-run fourth to take the lead for good. Julio Borbon (Tennessee), Michael Hollander (Louisiana State), Davison and Harris had singles in the rally, and Thomas had a double. 

Daniel Moskos (Clemson) picked up the win, giving up three runs, only one of them earned, on five hits in six innings to raise his record to 3-3 Hyannis won the inaugural Patriot Cup last year, clinching the prize and the final berth in the league playoffs in a ten-inning 5-4 thriller over Cotuit on the last day of the regular season. It was the Mets’ second playoff berth in a row, but the team has struggled most of the season and is all but out of the running for this year’s post-season at 6-22-1 through Wednesday.

Kets ’n’ Mets notes

Cotuit is in a tight four-way battle with Bourne, Wareham and Falmouth for the two Western Division playoff berths, though Bourne (17-12-1 through Wednesday) has maintained a narrow lead for the last couple of weeks. Cotuit and Wareham were tied for second at 15-14-1, while Falmouth was two points behind at 14-15-1.

“The league is really balanced,” said Kets skipper Mike Roberts. “It’s going to go down to the last day like it did last year.”

The Kets have hovered right around .500 all season. They haven’t been below break-even mark since June 27, but they haven’t been more than three games better than .500 all summer. 

“I would bet that we have the toughest schedule” the rest of the way, Roberts said, and a review of the contenders’ slates bears him out. Orleans had the league’s best record by far (21-9), and while Bourne, Wareham and Falmouth each face the Cardinals only one more time, Cotuit plays them twice. Chatham was second in the East (17-12); Wareham and Falmouth play the A’s one time each and Bourne plays them twice but Cotuit faces them three times. The Kets are winless in three outings against the East’s top two clubs.

“We’ve got to play better in those five games,” Roberts said, but, he quickly added, “not only those five.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the Kets have two games left against Hyannis, and so does Wareham, but Bourne and Falmouth face the Mets three times each.

Head-to-head matchups could be crucial. Wareham has the best chance of controlling its own fate, with two games apiece left with Cotuit, Bourne and Falmouth. Falmouth and Bourne also face off twice more, while Cotuit only sees Falmouth and Bourne once each.

The key for Cotuit? “We need to play well enough to get to Chris Toneguzzi, our closer, more often,” said Roberts. Last year close to half the Kets’ games were one-run affairs, but this year they’ve been in a lot of one-sided games, wins as well as losses, which in a wood-bats league has Roberts puzzled. Purdue’s Tonneguzzi has four saves. 

The league will announce the Eastern and Western Division All-Stars Tuesday in preparation for the annual All-Star Game, set for McKeon Field in Hyannis a week from tomorrow. Gates open to the public at 10:30 a.m., and parking will be at a premium, so plan to arrive well before the 3:05 p.m. game time. Plenty of pregame entertainment is planned, beginning at 11:15 a.m. with batting practice and autograph sessions. The home run hitting contest is set for 1:15 p.m., and the Eastern and Western Division All-Stars will be introduced beginning at 2:20 p.m. The All-Stars are scheduled to be honored at Fenway Park in Boston Aug. 2.

Vanderbilt University’s Mike Baxter became a former Hyannis Met last week. Baxter signed with the San Diego Padres, which selected him in the fourth round of this spring’s draft, 128th overall. Mets skipper Greg King said he and general manager John Howitt have known since the spring that Baxter, a returnee from the 2004 Mets, might go pro this year. At one point not too long ago, it looked like Baxter would be with Hyannis all summer, but then the Padres sweetened the deal, coming up with an offer he couldn’t refuse. King also said Baxter was a baseball exemplar, the first to arrive and the last to leave, taking extra batting practice, continually working on his skills and conditioning, and leading quietly by example. “That’s what it’s all about,” King said. “I wish him all the best.”

By David Curran


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