Mets take first step in defense of Patriot Cup

 June 24, 2005


             The Hyannis Mets got their first defense of the Barnstable Patriot Cup off on the right foot with a 4-2 win over Cotuit Sunday at McKeon Field. For the second year, the Patriot will award the Cup to the winner of the regular season series between the only teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League that share the same home town.

ICEBREAKER - Mike Baxter (center) has a smile for teammate Alex Feinberg (left) and manager Greg King after his two-run double gave the Hyannis Mets the lead in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Cotuit.
David Curran/Barnstable Patriot

Mike Baxter, a returnee from the 2004 Mets, had the big hit in the game, a two-run double in the seventh, giving his team a 2-1 lead and plating the team’s first runs since opening day, breaking a streak of 26 scoreless innings.

“We just haven’t been able to hit,” said manager Greg King.

Baxter said he and his teammates were going through the adjustments that bedevil hitters in the early stages of every Cape League season, learning - or relearning - how to hit with wood bats while facing the best collegiate pitchers in the country every day.

“I think it’s the same with a lot of the boys on the team,” Baxter said. “It’s a big transition for the boys.”

King wasn’t surprised it was the Vanderbilt outfielder who broke the ice. “If one guy’s going to swing the bat, it’s going to be him,” said the second-year skipper.

Third baseman Kyle Norrid of Tennessee followed three batters later with a two-run single to put the Mets ahead 4-1.

Both teams got superb pitching, especially from their starters, neither of whom figured in the decision. The Mets managed only three hits while the Kets collected six.

Cotuit starter Nathan Culp (Missouri) threw five innings, giving up just one hit on a misplayed fly ball to left field. He walked two and struck out six. Mets starter Stephen Perry (Dartmouth) was almost as good, holding the Kets to one run and two hits. The run was manufactured after Perry struck out the first two Kets to bat in the third. He walked the speedy Emeel Salem (Alabama), who promptly stole second and came home on a base hit by Shane Jordan (Stetson).

Perry struck out four and walked two.

The Kets threatened in the eighth and ninth, scoring once in the eighth when Jordan singled home J.P. Padron, who had walked and advanced to third on a wild pick-off attempt and a passed ball. But Cotuit left the tying runs on base in both frames.

Kets manager Mike Roberts used four pitchers in the decisive seventh inning, and said he struggled with his pitchers’ roles after Culp had finished. “A couple of them I wanted to get a look at” in a live game, which cannot be replicated in practice or the bullpen, he said.

“We all struggle the first week to get to know our players,” Roberts said. Chris Ingoglia (Stetson) picked up the win for Hyannis with 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief, while Mike Koons (Arizona) picked up a hair-raising save, allowing three hits and walking one in his 1 1/3 innings work.

Casey Hudspeth (South Florida), back for his second year in Roberts’ bull pen, walked two in a third of an inning, watched both of them score and absorbed the loss.

Sunday’s game didn’t match the drama of the last Kets-Mets contest, on the last day of the 2004 regular season, but few contests do. With the first Patriot Cup on the line and the CCBL’s fourth and final playoff berth awaiting the winner, the Mets prevailed 5-4 in a 10-inning thriller.

This season’s first match-up did continue an all but unbroken string of close contests between the crosstown rivals since the Cup was introduced last year. All but one of the teams’ six games in 2004 were decided by one or two runs, and three of them went to extras innings.

The Kets and Mets next face each other Sunday at 5 p.m. at Lowell Park in Cotuit. After that, the crosstown rivals will not see each other for three weeks, when they play a home-and-home series July 17 and 18. They meet again July 28 before facing off on the last day of the season, just as they did last year. 

By David Curran



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